1951 “Lucy” Pilot Beats 1990 Shows (1990)

Wednesday, May 2, 1990

NEW YORK (Associated Press)

America still loves Lucy — particularly the pilot for what became CBS’s classic “I Love Lucy” series.  No matter that the show was made during the Korean war, when Harry S. Truman was president.

By a CBS estimate, 40 million viewers saw “I Love Lucy: The Very First Show,” a Monday special featuring the 34-minute pilot, which Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz filmed in black and white at their own expense on March 10, 1951.  Despite the years, it was the first time the show had been broadcast.

The one hour CBS special easily trounced its modern network rivals in the ratings, according to national Nielsen estimates Tuesday.  It had a 21.2 rating and got 37 percent of the audience in its time period.  

Monday’s CBS special was the premiere of the “I Love Lucy” pilot, made on kinescope when Ball, who died last year, was five months pregnant with her daughter. 

Produced by Ball and her husband for $5,000, the show was never broadcast.  CBS preferred a different version, which it used as the basis for its first 26-show order for the series.

The “I Love Lucy” pilot, once thought to have been lost, was rediscovered last year by former CBS Entertainment president Bud Grant.  He found that a copy of it was in the possession of Joanne Perez, the widow of a vaudeville performer, Pepito the Spanish Clown, who appears in the show.

“I Love Lucy” ran on CBS from 1951 to 1961.  Arnaz and Ball were divorced in 1960.


The Victoria Advocate


Associated Press News Archive


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s