Monday, December 17, 1956
I Love Lucy, Season 6, Episode 163, filmed October 25, 1956 at Ren-Mar Studio., aired December 17, 1956. The Ricardos and the Mertzes get more involved than they anticipated in Little Ricky’s school pageant, “The Enchanted Forest.” The sets and costumes for the pageant were designed by Pepito Perez, and choreography was by Joanne Perez.
The children who performed in this ten minute segment of the episode, other than Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux), were all from The Pepito and Joanne Academy of Dance in Orange County, California.
The names of the children in the cast remain a bit of a mystery. Those identified to date include the little girl who played Suzy Brown, Candy Rogers Schoenberger, one of Pepito and Joanne’s star students; Henry Fernandez; Bonnie Brown, now Bonnie George.
The clever Hippity-Hoppity The Frog costume for William Frawley and the darling Owl costume were created by Pepito in his workshop behind his Santa Ana house, and were auctioned off after Joanne’s death in 2004.
The costumes for the Frog and the Owl are now in the Lucy-Desi museum in Jamestown, New York. www.desi-lucy.com.
Of particular note is the sumptuous “Enchanted Forest” backdrop, hand-painted on a giant canvas by Pepito, with additional three-dimensions flowers and vines placed on the stage for added depth and dimension.
Over the years, Pepito and Joanne used this “Enchanted Forest” backdrop and the costumes many times for their “Hansel and Gretel” productions in Orange County, California in the 1960s. For Joanne’s later recitals (1970s onward) on the outdoor stage at the dance school, just the blacklighted dream sequence from Hansel and Gretel was used, involving Baby Butterflies, and the memorable Giant Butterfly.
At the end of the episode was a special on-screen credit for Pepito and Joanne’s academy which read “Settings and Choreography for ‘The Enchanted Forest’ by Pepito and Joanne Dancing Academies.”
The final fate of Pepito’s canvas backdrop is unknown. It was last spotted in Joanne’s attic around 1989 by a friend of Joanne’s named Shirley. A person who was involved in cataloging Joanne Perez’s items in her house after her death in 2004, recalled that the backdrop was damaged beyond repair due to improper storage, and sadly ended up in a dumpster.
If anyone reading this page was once a child in a Pepito and Joanne show, please contact me using the link at the bottom of this page. I would love to know the names of the children from the Pepito and Joanne Academy of Dance who participated in this 1956 episode of “I Love Lucy.”
Signed cast photo from “I Love Lucy” Season 6, Episode 163, “Little Ricky’s School Pageant,” the “Enchanted Forest” recital-within-the-episode. This photo once hung on the wall of Joanne’s dance studio in Santa Ana, and is familiar to all who entered those doors.
Pepito & Joanne Archive, courtesy of Melani Carty
Papermoon Loves Lucy, https://papermoonloveslucy.tumblr.com/post/118875365543/little-rickys-school-pageant
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 – 02:26 AM
The show took 3 days to film. This picture was taken on the final day. I was pretty distracted by the antics of Lucy in the background. I was the tallest bunny.
Thursday, July 28, 2011 – 07:42 PM
I was the blonde bunny w/ the curls and you can tell which one I am by the string my mother had sewn between the bunny ears. I was also one of the taller bunnies. My name is Bonnie “Bonita” George
Thursday, July 28, 2011 – 07:46 PM
I have this photo as well, and I am the bunny standing smack dab in the middle, beside the little girl who read the story. I had such a blast shooting this. I got to meet the actor who played Wyatt Earp on his popular western show!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 – 07:37 AM
Where can I purchase a copy of this picture? This was one of my favorite episodes…
Saturday, September 10, 2011 – 10:06 PM
I am almost certain that Joanne Perez played the piano during “Little Ricky’s School Pageant.” Listen carefully … it sounds just like her style.
Bonnie Brown / Bonnie George, I would love to talk to you about your memories of Pepito and Joanne. Please email me using the link below.