‘I Love Lucy’: Desi Arnaz Once Hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’

by Emily Morgan

The legacy of “I Love Lucy” would remain the gold standard in which all television comedy sitcoms would use as a blueprint. In addition to the show’s plot and the writing, the cast members set the show apart. Even though Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz divorced after twenty years of marriage, their on-screen chemistry was evident. 

Years after taping new episodes, Arnaz made a return to television when he hosted another iconic show. Lorne Michael, the co-creator of “Saturday Night Live,” asked Arnaz if he would host the show in its debut season. 

Of course, Michaels knew that Arnaz would be a great host considering Arnaz had spent six years playing Ricky Ricardo in the hilarious series. 

On February 21, 1976, Arnaz took the iconic “SNL” stage. In addition to seeing him in various sketches, the show also made it a family affair. Arnaz’s son, Desi Jr., performed with his dad for the episode’s musical segments. The father and son sang a duet on the song “Cuban Pete” and the iconic “Babaloo.” Arnaz closed out the show by playing his signature drum and leading a conga line through the audience. 

During his opening monologue, Arnaz thanked the cast for the gift of cigars and said that the comedy-sketch series was “one of my favorite shows.” 

Desi Arnaz Parodies Own Show on ‘SNL’

Sketches included Chevy Chase as President Gerald Ford, Arnaz reciting Jabberwocky, and a parody of The Untouchables.

Arnaz also played the role of an acupuncture doctor. He uses cigars in place of needles, with the late John Belushi as his patient.

Of course, the show also included a parody of the show that put Arnaz on the map. In the episode, veteran SNL star Gilda Radner portrayed Ball while Arnaz introduced several failed ideas for its premise.

One of the most remembered sketches was “I Loathe Lucy.” In the skit, Radner jumps through hoops trying to please Arnaz.

Another sketch that garnered laughs was “Lucy’s Costumes.” Radner reveals her wacky costume ideas with “Ethel” before sneaking into Ricky’s club. 

Even though Arnaz didn’t book many acting gigs after “I Love Lucy,” he would remain in the spotlight. Arnaz was on several talk shows like “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” and “Late Night with David Letterman.”