Back on Nov. 6, 1957, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz started a very different, very bittersweet time in their relationship.
Their comedy I Love Lucy morphed into the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. All the characters remained the same for a 13-episode run. The only change came to the schedule and length of the show. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz still played their lovable Ricardo characters. But the episodes didn’t come every week. In fact, the 13 episodes stretched out over three years.
You could say that these Lucille Ball shows were more like comedy specials. America didn’t see Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred on a regular basis. But they got to see them enough.
The official description of the show — “Follow-up to I Love Lucy (1951), Lucy Ricardo continues her wacky schemes as she travels with her husband, Ricky and their friends Ethel and Fred to various locations and meeting celebrities.”
The first episode, which ran 64 years ago tonight, was called Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana. In it, the Ricardos reveal how they met during an interview with journalist Hedda Hopper. Yes, it was on a cruise ship. Guest stars included bandleader Rudy Vallee and Cesar Romero, who was a few years away from playing The Joker on Batman.
The next episode ran almost a month later, about a week after Thanksgiving. Film and stage star Tallulah Bankhead moved in next door to the Ricardos. Most of the episodes featured a big-name celebrity. Stars included Fernando Lamas, Danny Thomas and Milton Berle.
The final episode ran on April 1, 1960. In Lucy Meets the Mustache, comedian Ernie Kovacs and wife, Edie Adams moved in next door to the Ricardos.
And here’s why the series was bittersweet, especially the ending. Lucille Ball kissed her husband on screen in the final scene. She’s crying, as she says to Ricky: “You’re supposed to say ‘Cut.’”
Lucille Ball filed for divorce the next day to end her 20-year marriage. The marriage almost came to an end a decade before, but the two stayed together. With her TV shows over, Lucille Ball fell into a depression. Plus, she felt like her divorce disappointed millions of her fans. According to the New York Times, she stayed with friends in New York and cried on their couch. “What I do is so meaningless, so unimportant,” Lucille Ball said, according to her biographers.
However, two years later, Ball evolved again with another comedy, The Lucy Show.
But daughter Luci Arnaz said the best thing that ever happened to her parents was their divorce. She told Closer Weekly in 2018: “They had a great divorce.”
“If their parents can’t get along and that happens, then kids should be so lucky to have a divorce like my mom and my dad did,” Arnaz said. “Because they were kind. They never said bad words about each other in front of their children and they stayed friends till the day they died.”