There's a reason 40 million Americans still watch syndicated episodes of I Love Lucy every year: The show is an example of entertainment at its finest — and, honestly, it just gets us. But there's a lot about the show's backstory that you can't witness in reruns.
In 1948, CBS went to Lucille Ball in hopes to turn her popular radio show called "My Favorite Husband" into a television program. While the radio version originally featured Richard Denning as Lucy's husband, she told the network she'd agree only if her real-life husband (Desi Arnaz) was cast in the role. Originally, the network had their doubts, but ultimately they agreed (and we bet they're glad they did!).
Fortunately, producers didn't like the alliteration of Larry and Lucy.
Before then, most shows were taped live in New York City, but since the Arnazes didn't want to move away from their Los Angeles home, the set was in California. It was also the first show to use three different cameras, which was revolutionary at the time.
No pressure. But the actors were so good that scenes very rarely had to be re-taped (meaning the audience often got a start-to-finish experience). This also helped Ball, who worked best when she had immediate audience feedback.
Say it ain't so! Sadly, William Frawley and Vivan Vance had to force themselves to be affectionate towards one another on the show. This conflict was so deep, that it even prevented them from spin-off success after the series ended, because they refused to work together.
Which initially made CBS wary of hiring him. But Arnaz (who had his own similar reputation) thought Frawley was the perfect actor for the role. He fought to bring him on, with the agreement that if he missed work for any reason, other than being legitimately sick, he would be written out of the show.
It only became the iconic opening once CBS started rerunning the series in 1959. Before then, the opening and closing credits featured clay figures of Ball and Arnaz with sponsored products from companies like Phillip Morris Cigarettes, Procter & Gamble, and Lilt Home Permanent.
In fact, Arnaz is credited for inventing the rerun. He came up with the concept as a way to give Ball some much needed time off after having a baby.
That's 72% of all U.S. homes who owned TVs at the time. And more watched this episode than Dwight D. Eisenhower getting sworn in as President the very next day.
He listed his official height as 5'11", but he was really 5'9" and can credit his two inch boost to his special shoes.
Although it's never been officially confirmed if this is a fact or just a joke. But perhaps it doesn't matter, because the two woman remained friends even after their time on the show ended.
But it wasn't just the last season that reigned supreme: I Love Lucy held the top title for four out of its six seasons.