VIDEO CLIP: “I Love Lucy, The Very First Show” (1990)

Monday, April 30, 1990

“If you are wondering how we got tonight’s film [the Lost Pilot of “I Love Lucy”], my father (Desi Arnaz) gave it to Pepito the Clown as a thank you for guest-starring in the Pilot … but more importantly, for creating my parents’ vaudeville act.  Only after hearing it was missing, did Pepito’s widow [Joanne] realize what she had been showing at family gatherings all these years.”    — Lucie Arnaz 

Unlike most film classics, throughout the years, much of classic television has either been lost or destroyed. Before the advent of VHS and DVD, television was a disposable medium much like newspapers. As a result, significant chunks of television history have vanished, such as the pilot episode of “I Love Lucy”, and the local Detroit years of Soupy Sales’ masterpiece children’s show. In Soupy’s case, as in others, the tapes were erased and reused as a matter of economics. This process was known as “wiping.”

The pilot for “I Love Lucy” was assumed to be lost until Joanne Perez, widow of the entertainer known as “Pepito the Spanish Clown,” contacted CBS thirty-nine years later to tell them that she possessed a canister of 16 mm movie film labeled “Lucy-Desi-Pepito Audition.”  Her husband Pepito had appeared in the 34-minute production, and Desi Arnaz had given the only copy of the pilot to Pepito as a thank-you for being a guest star. Because Desi and Lucy had owned and financed the pilot itself, Desi was able to give it away. In 1990, the pilot, which had never made it to air, was broadcast for the first time on April 30, 1990 as a television special on CBS, titled “I Love Lucy, The Very First Show,” hosted by Lucie Arnaz.


  1. Suite101: Lost TV Pilots and Episodes: I Love Lucy, All in the Family, and More
  2. “MIC Remembrance Wall”, Library of Congress Moving Image Collection
  3. •Museum of Television and Radio “Lost” Programs List
  4. “You’ll love the lost “I Love Lucy” pilot”, Craig Shapiro, The Virginian-Pilot
  5. “Wiping”, Wikipedia

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