‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball Said Cast Never Ad-Libbed, Called Out Critics Who Implied Otherwise

by Keeli Parkey

On many television shows, especially comedies, a certain amount of ad-libbing by actors is allowed. This, of course, depends on the show. However, according to Lucille Ball, ad-libbing never took place on “I Love Lucy.” And, the legendary comedic actress was not happy with anyone who thought otherwise.

Ball talked about this issue according to a 2011 article by The Hollywood Reporter. And, the beloved actress said she and other members of the cast work diligently to make sure that they were more than prepared to film episodes of the classic show. There was a lot of rehearsal that took place before the filming of episodes of “I Love Lucy.”

Lucille Ball reportedly talked about his issue in the commentary for the “Criterion Television Classics: I Love Lucy” laserdisc release. This came out in 1991.

“Because Viv [Vivian Vance] and I believed, and because we knew what we were going to say and because we were thinking, we were listening to each other, and then reacting and then acting, it came out like may we’d made it up,” Ball said. ” We never ad-libbed. We never ad-libbed on the set when we were putting it together. It was there.”

Lucille Ball Also Praised Writers of ‘I Love Lucy’ for Show’s Success

One of the main reasons that the cast of “I Love Lucy” never ad-libbed while filming episodes was that the writing on the show was done at such a high level, according to Lucille Ball. And, the actress named two writers specifically for how much the audience loved the show.

These writers were Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Davis, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And, Ball said she believed those writers influenced many, many others.

“Many times when we would review at the beginning of the season, they would say Viv and I ad-libbed our way through some mediocre writing. They have since found out that that was ridiculous,” Ball said. “They know how great our writers are because hundreds of people have copied from them. I have such respect for those kids, my writers I call ‘the kids,’ Bob and Madelyn.”

“I Love Lucy” premiered in 1951 and aired until 1957. During those years, the show left a mark on television that is still felt to this day.

And, if you’re a fan of the show or its famous cast there is a movie in the works that will be right up your alley. That movie is titled “Being the Ricardos.” It is being produced by Amazon Studios. Set to star as Lucille Ball in the film is Nicole Kidman. Javier Bardem has been cast in the role of Ball’s famous husband, Desi Arnaz. Arnaz played Ricky on “I Love Lucy”

Also in the cast are J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda. Simmons will play William Frawley. Arianda will play Vivian Vance. Frawley and Vance famously played Fred Mertz and Ethel Mertz on “I Love Lucy.” They were neighbors and good friends of Lucy and Ricky.