Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz legacy

It’s been 70 years since Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s iconic television show “I Love Lucy” premiered in 1951. Yet, the legacy of the two stars continues to live on to this day. Television critic Joe Neumaier spoke out this week to explain that the reason behind this is that Ball and Arnaz “intrigued people.” 

“It was a cross-cultural moment in the 1950s when a Cuban performer and his redheaded American wife became America’s sweethearts,” Neumaier told Closer Weekly

‘I Love Lucy’s’ Origins

Fans today would be surprised to learn that “I Love Lucy” nearly never came to be.

Ball had been in Hollywood for over a decade, and needing a job as she approached 40, she managed to find a new niche on radio starring opposite actor Richard Denning in “My Favorite Husband.”

The show was so popular that CBS offered to bring it to television, but Ball would only agree to do it if Arnaz, a bandleader who was her husband in real life, could be her costar. 

“TV started for me just as a means of keeping my husband Desi off the road,” Ball once said. “He’d been on tour with his band since he got out of the Army, and we were in our 11th year of marriage and wanted to have children.”

Related: Lucille Ball’s Daughter Reveals Secrets About Her Mom’s Marriage to Desi Arnaz

Network Executives Wary 

At first, network executives were not interested in hiring a Cuban-born performer. They even feared that audiences would not buy that Arnaz and Ball were a couple. 

“At the time, the consensus was, ‘What the hell do we want with a Latin bandleader who can’t speak English?’” said Bob Weiskopf, a longtime writer on “I Love Lucy.”

Thankfully, the network eventually decided to give in and went through with the show. The rest, as they say, is history. 

“I Love Lucy” was a massive hit from the start, and it was one of the first shows were the female protagonist was the one getting most of the laughs.

Here’s a clip from one episode of “I Love Lucy” where Ricky claims to have cooked breakfast for Lucy: 

Ball had discovered in her early days in Hollywood that she was good at physical comedy, which made her game for anything on the show.

“Beautiful girls didn’t want to do some of the things I did — put on mudpacks and scream and run around and fall into pools,” Ball said. “I didn’t mind getting messed up.”

Being The Ricardos 

A major Hollywood movie is currently being filmed about Ball and Arnaz called Being The Ricardos, which has a script from writer and producer Aaron Sorkin.

Oscar-winning stars Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem have been cast to play Ball and Arnaz. The film is about one week on the set of “I Love Lucy” when the stars face a crisis. 

Full Story: Nicole Kidman Transforms Into Lucille Ball On Set Of New Movie

The fact that this movie is in the works just goes to show that audiences are still just as captivated with Ball and Arnaz as they were in the 1950s. 

“In the 1950s, audiences accepted the Ricardos in a way that was sort of advanced for the time,” explained Neumaier. “They are still looked back upon as an intriguing couple today.”

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