In a show that was full of comedic schemes and humor-filled dialogue, Lucille Ball was reportedly more strict about what kind of behavior happened behind-the-scenes.
The show was on CBS from 1951 to 1957. “I Love Lucy” is the most-watched in the U.S. for four out of the six total seasons. It was also at the top of the Nielsen ratings at the end of its run. The show was voted as the “Best TV Show of All Time” by People and ABC News in 2012.
Behind all of it was in great deal Lucille Ball, one of the most influential actors of her generation. She was also the first woman to run a television studio. She opened Desilu Productions.
Lucille Ball was a leading lady both on the screen and behind-the-scenes.
Lucille Ball in Control
According to interviews from Television Academy Foundation, crew members have talked about what it was like to work on set with Ball.
On the show, Ricky and Lucy had a son. Little Ricky was played by Keith Thibodeaux. He would later say that Ball was a “very passionate [and] very complex” person. Also, she was incredibly nice but was sometimes had a “very tightly-wound, a no-nonsense” attitude toward her work, according to Showbiz CheatSheet.
Lucille Ball was a phenomenal actor. She played one of the most extravagent, larger-than-life characters on television. Through facial expressions, dialogue, and movement she had created a dynamic and engaging character that TV viewers across the country came to love.
It wasn’t without a lot of hard work, however.
According to Jay Sandrich, the assistant director of the show, Ball’s character often had to learn new skills for different episodes. When it came time to do this, Ball didn’t just fake it. Instead, she studied these activities intensely with an amazing level of precision and dedication.
It all came down to making sure her acting was at her best. If she had to focus on the task at hand, it would take away her concentration on acting and portraying her character.
“Whatever the project was she was doing, she had to be an expert at it by the end of the week so she could relax and be comedic,” Sandrich said in a Television Academy Foundation interview.
Helping Others on Set
Besides meticulously getting into her own character, Ball wanted everyone else to be the same way.
While sometimes comedy can be revised or improvised, Ball wanted everything to be according to plan.
“The rest of the cast … the guest actors, had to do the same line-readings to Lucy every time so she could get her timing … Somebody couldn’t come and ad-lib or do it slightly differently. She wanted to know exactly,” Sandrich said.
In the end, “I Love Lucy” remains one of the most iconic series. Movies (including a new one soon), books, and documentaries have all studied the show’s impact on the industry. Lucille Ball even wrote an autobiography called “Love, Lucy.”
It would be fair to believe that Lucille Ball should be created with a lot of that success.
H/T: Showbiz CheatSheet