‘I Love Lucy’: The Hit TV Series Started As a Radio Program

by Clayton Edwards
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I Love Lucy changed the face of television forever. It broke ground in several ways. From the use of multiple cameras for TV to the invention of reruns, the show had several firsts. However, many fans might be unaware that the classic series didn’t start on the small screen. In fact, it didn’t start on the screen at all.

In the beginning, I Love Lucy was a radio program. What would become a hit television show ran for over 100 episodes before it ever saw the screen. The format wasn’t the only major difference, though. For one, it didn’t even have the same title.

I Love Lucy‘s Radio Days

I Love Lucy started its long and successful life as My Favorite Husband. From the titles alone, you would never guess that the two shows were related in any way. At the same time, Desi Arnaz was not involved in the show. Instead, Lucille Ball‘s husband was played by Creature from the Black Lagoon star Richard Denning. When the show first aired they played Liz and George Cugat. However, they later changed the surname to Cooper, according to Old Time Radio Catalog. Instead of being a bandleader and his wife, the couple started as a banker and a socialite. In later episodes, the Coopers were transformed into a middle-class couple. This change was to make them more relatable to the wider listening audience.

Similarities Between the Shows

Some things from My Favorite Husband did carry over into I Love Lucy, though. For instance, the plot of many episodes featured the couple having some crisis brought on by Liz’s crazy ideas. However, they always figured it out by the end of the episode. Everything always worked out in the end. At the same time, the radio show featured Lucille Ball’s expert comedic timing.

The couple’s dynamic was much the same on My Favorite Husband as it was on I Love Lucy. Both George and Ricky were fairly serious and straight-laced men. On the other hand, Lucille Ball played pretty much the same character on both shows. Both Lucy and Liz are quirky and mischievous characters that lend chaos, heart, and humor to the shows.

Many early television shows are nearly impossible to find. However, you can still find My Favorite Husband episodes online. In fact, Old Time Radio Catalog offers CDs and downloads of the classic radio show. So, if you want to hear what I Love Lucy was like in its earliest form, you can still do so.

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