We All Love Lucy

The fifties' most iconic television situation comedy "I Love Lucy" first aired on Columbia Broadcast System (CBS) on October 15, 1951. The black and white series starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley, and Vivian Vance would go on to become one of the most popular and innovative sitcoms in television history. Not only was Lucille Ball a legendary comedienne, she became a pioneer in shaping American culture.

Maurice Chevalier, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz in rehearsal for 1959 I Love Lucy
Maurice Chevalier, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz
I Love Lucy August 1959
Leonard Mccoomb
Feminism Pioneer

As was the norm in 1950's films and television, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's matching twin beds were separated by a nightstand.
Acknowledgement of a pregnancy in the movies or television was considered too provocative for American viewers. If an actress did become pregnant, they were forced to bow out of a film. Yet, in typical Lucille Ball trail-blazing form, Lucy insisted her pregnancy be scripted into the show. 

Lucy's ability to circumvent Ricky's wishes through her comedic acumen, allowed her to combat the subservient housewife stereotype without losing her conservative viewership. 

Lucille Ball as a clown and Desi Arnaz in a suit in scene from I love Lucy. 1951 Loomis /dean photo
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Loomis Dean November 1952

Circumstances defeated her efforts to pursue opportunities outside the home yet clearly indicated the fifties' women discontent. Contrary to her portrayal of a hapless housewife, Lucille Ball was actually an astute business woman and a production head for Desilu Studios.

Ethnic Diversity

Except for the occasional portrayal of people of color as servants, television in the 1950's was an all-white medium. The "I Love Lucy" show will be forever recognized for not only having a Latino actor play a leading role in a popular sitcom but as the intelligent businessman counterpart to the zany housewife. 

While the show's producers did not think the public would be accepting of an interracial marriage, Ball insisted and set the standard for racial inclusion. Sadly, only one African-American had a role on the show. Sam McDaniel played "Sam the Porter" in a 1955 episode. 

Polka Dot Dresses  

And then we have the iconic polka dot dresses. Lucy's Elois Jennsen designed signature polka dot dresses, will go down in television costumes history. Often paired with a starched cocktail apron, Lucy accurately depicted fifties' fashions for women. 

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