Color me Lucy!
(1) There were 180 half-hour episodes of “I Love Lucy”…none were filmed in color. Desi Arnaz had expressed interest in filming the one-hour shows in color…there would eventually be 13 of them, collectively known as “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour”… originally aired as the “Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show” and “Westinghouse Deslilu Playhouse Presents The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show.” This was never done, as the cost would have been prohibitive…at least twice the normal budget per episode.
(2) As its commitment to the future of color broadcasting, CBS announced in a press release dated August 19, 1954 that 42 episodes of their various shows would “color-cast” by the end of the year…and 29 more in the Spring of 1955. The Dec. 6, 1954 episode of “I Love Lucy” was mentioned, altho not by name. This would have been the episode entitled “Ricky’s Contract”…but of the 38 color shows during the 1954 calendar year, totaling 50 hours, “I Love Lucy” was not among them…it was dropped from the list for whatever reason.
(3) Lucille Ball died on April 26, 1989. CBS decided it would be a fitting tribute to show the “lost” Christmas episode on Monday, Dec. 18. It was shown entirely in black and white. This show originally aired Christmas Eve, 1956, and had never been included in the syndication package…altho as you can see from the TV Guide article that week, it wasn’t completely lost…bits of it having been broadcast in 1981 and after Lucy’s death.
(4) It was shown again in 1990…this time partially colorized. The episode takes place on Christmas Eve, but only about half of it was newly filmed, the rest being flash-backs to other episodes…and only the Christmas “wraparound” parts were colorized…you can see them here. This hybrid version has long been available on video cassette and DVD. At least one other episode was colorized and shown at fan conventions…”Hollywood at Last” with William Holden…the one where Lucy lights her fake nose on fire. There are rumors of others…track them down at your leisure.
(5) The version airing Dec. 20, 2013 is not the 1990 version…it is newly colorized, and here is a still from that show (right) compared to a screen capture from 1990 (left).
(6) But here’s the kicker…a color “home movie” taken by an audience member does exist…of the 1951 episode “The Audition”…you can see parts of it here, interspaced with black and white footage from the actual episode…fascinating, no?
(7) So when you heard about these new color episodes…and you thought to yourself hey wait a minute…you were right…you must have been paying attention. Have a Lucy Christmas…and a very Ricky New Year!
And just as an afterthought…isn’t it interesting what a major part Lucy’s hair color played in the show…yet the audience watching at home never saw it…
Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved