‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball Discussed Her Parenting Strategy on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ in 1974

by Suzanne Halliburton

I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball charmed late-night host Johnny Carson with her parenting advice.

Always the comedian, Ball also dished out some timeless guidance for parents back then — the interview was March 22, 1974. You can still use it today.

Carson, the iconic host of the Tonight Show, asked Ball about her two children. She and former husband Desi Arnaz were the parents of two — son Desi Jr and daughter, Lucie. Back in 1974, both were grown. Lucie was 23 and Desi Jr was 21. The Lucy Show ended in 1974. Both children had roles in the series playing Lucy’s kids. However, neither was in I Love Lucy, the show that made their parents famous.

And Carson asked Ball what she would tell her kids. Keep in mind, Lucille Ball was on the show to promote her new film Mame. I Love Lucy ended in 1957. Ball was so much more than that show.

“All my kids are doing well,” Ball said. “They’re learning, they’re making their mistakes on their own. That’s good.

“I’ve given them all the advice I can give them. And I’ve given them all the training I can give them. They’re out on their own.”

I Love Lucy Star Then Talked About What She’d Tell Her Kids If They Wanted a Role in an Adult Film

Then Carson’s line of questioning took a turn. Carson asked Ball what would she say if either of her children came to her and asked whether they’d take a role in a “nude” or “X-rated” movie. Carson asked, “would you give them some advice then?”

And Lucy quickly answered, relying on a buzz phrase from the TV show Laugh In.

“Well, first of all, you bet your bippy,” Ball said, so yes, she would tell her kids what to do in this specific case.

And then the stay of I Love Lucy continued:

“They wouldn’t come to me with that because they’re beyond that. They wouldn’t come to me with that because they know that’s prostitution and they wouldn’t do it. They don’t need it. I feel sorry for the young people who do need (to work in X-rated movies) because they’re being exploited.”

Carson knew he was about to bring out a special guest. Following the clips about Ball’s new movie, Desi Jr walked on stage. He’d been next door, working on a show. And then came classic mother-son kind of dialogue.

Lucys says to him: “Hey, you found to come over here and say hello to your poor old mother, huh?”

This clip is almost 50 years old. But it’s timeless. Carson and Lucille Ball had great chemistry. She appeared on his show 16 times from 1968-80. So he definitely knew he could ask her anything.