‘I Love Lucy’: John Wayne Once Guest Starred on the Classic Sitcom

by Matthew Wilson

John Wayne and Lucille Ball were titans of the film and television industry. But the Duke made a rare stop in TV land to guest star on “I Love Lucy.”

Wayne guest-starred as himself at the start of the sitcom’s fifth season. And the western icon was so big, the show had two episodes revolving around Wayne. Ball, as her character Lucy Ricardo, is up to her usual hijinks and clumsy nature. In the Season Five premiere “Lucy Visits Grauman’s,” Lucy steals Wayne’s cemented footprints from outside the Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Lucy wants the footprints as a souvenir, and she recruited Ethel and Fred to help her. In usual Lucy Ricardo fashion, she winds up dropping and shattering the cement. In the next episode “Lucy and John Wayne,” the theater orders for Lucy to return Wayne’s footprints. Wayne is having a big movie premiere that night. The characters hatch a plan to give the theater a forgery.

John Wayne Guest Starred on ‘I Love Lucy’

Meanwhile, Lucy’s husband Ricky calls John Wayne himself to smooth over the situation. The Duke agrees to make a new cemented print to keep the couple out of trouble. What follows is a classic “I Love Lucy” comedy of errors. Wayne makes new cemented prints. But much to Ricky’s dismay, his fellow sitcom characters keep ruining them.

Lucy and the other characters track down the Duke to make more cemented prints as a result. The episode culminates in a scene where Lucy sneaks into Wayne’s dressing room to steal his boots. There, Wayne mistakes her for his masseur. And she winds up throttling the man before quickly running out of the dressing room.

Fortunately, Wayne comes through for the characters in the end. He agrees to give them a six months supply of cemented prints because they keep accidentally destroying them. The Duke gets a kiss from Lucy and Ethel on the cheek and all is well.

The episode proved that Wayne was as deft at making people laugh as he was at action and being a tough cowboy. The entire episode was a hilarious comedy of blunders as only Lucy Ricardo could pull off.

In real life, Wayne and Ball became friends. The actor even appeared on one of her follow-up sitcoms years later. Wayne showed up as a guest-star on “The Lucy Show,” a little over a decade later. Once again, he got caught up in Ball’s sitcom antics on the show as well.