Deseret News: Long Lost ‘I Love Lucy’ Pilot Is Found (1990)

Tuesday, April 10, 1990

By Scott D. Pierce, Television Editor, Deseret News

If you still love Lucy, you’re in for a treat.  The “I Love Lucy” pilot has been found, and will be broadcast by CBS next month.

For TV buffs, this find ranks up there with discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Most experts believed no copies existed.  But it was discovered in the possession of a clown’s widow.

Bud Grant, head of the Grant/Tribune Co. and former programming chief of CBS, was given the tape by Joanne Perez, Pepito the clown’s widow. Pepito appears in the show with Lucy and Desi, and was apparently given the only copy in 1951.

Back in 1950, CBS was anxious for Ball to take the character she’d created on radio’s “My Favorite Wife” to television. But the network wasn’t so sure about casting Cuban-born Desi Arnaz as the all-American husband.

So Ball and Arnaz took to the road, performing their act before live audiences. And in early 1951, they took $5,000 of their own money and produced the pilot — which so impressed CBS executives that “I Love Lucy” was scheduled to premiere that fall.

It’s unknown how good the quality of the tape is. It’s actually a kinescope, a film shot from a TV monitor.

The show runs 34 minutes, but fear not — the network won’t cut it to fit a half-hour time slot. An hour-long special is planned, which will include a tribute to Ball and deal with the origins of “I Love Lucy.”

The “audition tape” includes Desi and Lucy doing their famous cello routine, seal act and “Cuban Pete-Sally Sweet” duet and clown bits from Pepito.


Deseret News: “Long Lost ‘I Love Lucy’ Pilot Is Found,” Tuesday, April 10, 1990.

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