‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball was First Pregnant Actress To Play a Pregnant Woman on TV

by Jennifer Shea
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It may seem archaic today, but when “I Love Lucy” first aired, not only were they forbidden to use the word “pregnant” on the show, but a pregnant woman had never appeared on television before.

As she did with so many others, star Lucille Ball became the first woman to break that barrier.

Ball had not appeared on television while pregnant with her first child, daughter Lucie. But when she became pregnant with son Desi Jr., the show’s writers decided to write the pregnancy into “I Love Lucy” rather than try to work around it, per Good Housekeeping.

Even so, on the show, everyone used the term “expecting” instead of “pregnant,” which was for some reason verboten.

Lucille Ball’s Daughter Remembers ‘I Love Lucy’ Years as Mostly Normal

In an interview last year with Closer Weekly, Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, said growing up with two TV stars for parents felt normal to her. She and Desi Jr. were in many ways not so different from typical latchkey kids, she claimed.

“To me, it was just the way it was,” she said. “And because I grew up with it from the moment of my birth, I don’t remember anything else. Neither does Desi. This was what my dad and my mom did for a living. This is the work that they went away to go and do. And that’s all.”

“But we lived a pretty normal life away from all of that,” Arnaz added of the trappings of Hollywood. “If anything, it’s just that they were working parents, like many kids have working parents today who don’t get home till late.”  

Of course, when they went out to eat as a family, her parents’ celebrity became an unavoidable part of the experience. But Arnaz said her parents would never shoo fans away, much as she and Desi Jr. might wish they would. They remained grateful for the attention that had launched their careers right up until the end.

The Timelessness of the Classic Show

Despite the quirks that by now seem dated – for example, saying “expecting” instead of “pregnant” – “I Love Lucy” has managed to stand the test of time. And in some ways, it’s managed to stand outside of time. Reruns of the show are still on the air. And new generations are now watching it.

“I think what happens is that parents put their kids in front of the TV, because they know it’s safe,” Arnaz explained to Closer Weekly. “With ‘I Love Lucy,’ they know that they can watch it and no one is going to be insulted. It’s not mean humor. [It’s] not even currents events humor.”

What the show is about, she said, is unconditional love. Lucy does all sorts of wacky, zany things. But at the end of the day, Ricky still cares about her. And Ethel and Fred are still her friends.

“At this point, that show has probably babysat four generations,” Arnaz said.

Outsider.com