Pepito + Lucy = The Cello Routine (1950)

Thursday, June 1, 1950

Pepito devised the famous cello routine for Lucy, and built the trick cello from an old cello he bought in a pawn shop.  In fact, he came up with an entire vaudeville act for Lucy and Desi to perform around the United States, to prove to television executives that the public would accept that it was possible in 1950s America for an all-American girl from upstate New York to be happily married to a Cuban bandleader. — Melani Carty

Variety called the Arnaz’ stage tour — which they did to prove to CBS execs that the average viewer would “accept” them as a married couple — “top fare for vaude houses and niteries.” [Much of this routine ended up in The Lost Pilot and Episode 6 of I Love Lucy.] Their 20-minute routine [consisted] of a quickly assembled first-rate vaudeville act devised by an old friend, the renowned international Spanish clown, Pepito, involving a physical-comedy sketch for which he coached the couple personally and rigorously at the Coronado Hotel in San Diego; the creation of a xylophone and “an incredible cello” [prop] based on an invention of his own, which had been part of his act. Other routines included a Pugh-Carroll-scripted skit and musical routine based on “Cuban Pete” [Desi’s creation] and “Sally Sweet” [for Lucille to join him in a second chorus], as well as a comedy sketch illustrating a married couple’s true-to-life difficulties, busy lives and predicaments.


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