‘I Love Lucy’: Why Businesses Would Close When New Episodes of the Series Aired

by Joe Rutland

Monday nights in television’s Golden Age of the 1950s meant “I Love Lucy” was on CBS and businesses would simply close their doors.

This might seem a bit weird since today’s TV landscape is filled with reruns. But back when the show originally ran, there were no reruns at that time.

“I Love Lucy” was on CBS and viewers only could get one chance at watching the episode. That’s according to an article from ScreenRant.

Why wouldn’t stores just go ahead and stay open? Wouldn’t they want business? Of course. Yet if people are choosing to stay home and watch Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel instead, then there was little use in doing so. Even stores selling television sets, a hot commodity back in that time, wouldn’t sell any during the 9-9:30 p.m. Eastern time period.

‘I Love Lucy’ Star Provided TV Major Boost By Creating Rerun

That’s just an example of the power “I Love Lucy” had on television when the episodes first ran on CBS. Now TV history might not look too kindly upon Desi Arnaz who, obviously, was married to Lucille Ball. But Arnaz did have some creative ideas and he’s received some credit for coming up with the rerun.

Filmed episodes would be replicated and able to be sent out for other television stations to carry the show. That creation changed the television landscape, allowing for viewers to see their favorite episodes at different times.

While Ball and Arnaz had a very acrimonious marriage off-screen, their on-screen chemistry brought viewers back to their TV screens each Monday night.

Besides Ball playing Lucy Ricardo and Arnaz playing Ricky Ricardo, obviously Vivian Vance played Ethel Mertz and William Frawley played Fred Mertz. All four stars of “I Love Lucy” have died.

Vance Joined Lucille Ball’s Next Show With An Important Condition

All good things must come to an end. Such was the case for “I Love Lucy” and “The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour,” which kept the same cast together in hour-long specials.

In 1960, Ball divorced Arnaz and looked for another show to start. She developed “The Lucy Show” and asked Vance to join the cast.

Yet Vance did have an important condition for Ball. Vivian would have to be the character’s name, MeTV said. Vance and Ball played well off one another on the other sitcom. Fans, though, would call out for “Ethel” and not “Vivian.”

That was not going to happen going forward for Vance. She didn’t stay on as a full-time cast member for “The Lucy Show” for its entire run. Vance lived on the East Coast and got tired of the traveling for work. She would make occasional guest-star appearances but not return in a full-time capacity.

Vance died on Aug. 17, 1979, at 70 years old.