‘I Love Lucy’: Show’s Iconic Heart Figure in Credits Didn’t Exist When Show First Aired

by Matthew Wilson

The opening heart logo is almost as iconic as “I Love Lucy” or Lucille Ball herself. But you may be shocked to discover it didn’t originally exist when the show first aired. The network added the Valentine heart later.

Back during “I Love Lucy” initial run, the opening credits featured little animated figures of the cast. Think miniatures cartoon stick figures of Ball and Desi Arnaz. The show had a built-in advertisement spot for various products. For instance, Philip Morris cigarettes sponsored the show at one point.

TV programming couldn’t get away with that kind of advertisement these days. While the animated figures got the job done, the opening and closing credits were less than iconic. The signature heart didn’t become a part of the show until it entered syndication. When CBS began reairing the show in 1958, they commissioned the heart to fill up space during the opening and closing of the show. Soon the icon took on a life of its own and became ingrained as part of the show’s mythology. It was a symbol of the Ricardos unwavering love for each other.

‘I Love Lucy’ Enters Syndication

Of course, the iconic heart would have never graced television screens if “I Love Lucy” had been a one-and-done. The TV show changed the scape of television itself thanks to some intuitiveness from Ball and Arnaz. The duo pioneered filming TV shows on film, which they could then replay at a later date.

Up until that point, television networks had been broadcasting shows live on the East Coast for audiences. They then made poor, temporary copies on kinescopes to air out to the West Coast. Entering the television landscape, Ball and Arnaz shook up this norm. They wanted their show to be of the same quality for audiences across the nation, and they also wanted to save their show from the television abyss.

Taking less money upfront, the two ended up being two of the most successful TV pioneers. Because they owned the rights to “I Love Lucy,” they later sold the show back to CBS to air in syndication. Additionally, through re-airing, the show found new audiences and became a classic. Of course, by that time and in the generations to follow, the show aired with its heart logo. Unless you originally watched “I Love Lucy,” you probably wouldn’t have realized the change regarding the credits.