On Saturday, the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum in Jamestown will be in a tizzy. And it has nothing to do with Scary Lucy, the infamous statue in Celoron.
Oct. 15 is National I Love Lucy Day.
“I Love Lucy,” the classic sitcom starring Celoron native Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley, debuted Oct. 15, 1951. The National Day Calendar, which recognizes this momentous occasion, isn’t sure who made the anniversary a national holiday, or when. But there’s no denying that “I Love Lucy” made history on several levels.
It was the first show to have reruns. It was also the first filmed and scripted show to welcome a live audience. That’s real laughter, not canned laughter, that you’re hearing.
Plus, Lucy and Desi were seen as television’s first interracial couple.
“Lucy really pushed for that,” said Steve Neilans, marketing director for National Comedy Center Inc., which oversees the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. “People got freaked out at first, and she was told, 'We think the crowds respond better to a white husband than a Cuban husband.' She said then there’d be no show.”
The episode of “I Love Lucy" that aired Oct. 15, 1951 was titled "The Girls Want To Go To A Nightclub."
Feminism would make some of the show's humor difficult now. Political correctness would also frown on what might be seen as the stereotyping of Cubans. Comedy was simpler back then.
“Some of the jokes wouldn’t fly now,” Neilans admitted.
But nostalgia adds to the show's appeal.
“We can be back in the day,” Neilans said. “It’s kind of cool. It can take people back to a good childhood memory, or just take them back in time.”
“I Love Lucy,” for four of its six seasons, was the most-watched show in the United States. It was the first show to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings. TV Guide praised it in 2002 as television’s second-greatest show of all time. (“Seinfeld,” the magazine decided, was first.)
How to celebrate National “I Love Lucy” Day? The National Day Calendar suggests an “I Love Lucy” marathon, and posting on social media, using the hashtag @NationalILoveLucyDay.
Western New Yorkers can take things to the next level.
Go to the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and declare, boldly, “I love Lucy!” With those magic words, the recorded tour, narrated by Lucie Arnaz and normally costing $7, will be yours free. You will also enjoy a 15 percent discount on merchandise.
“We have a photo of Fred (Mertz) that’s pretty popular,” Neilans said. “People love Lucy, and we have a ton of Lucy stuff. Sometimes a couple comes in, and it’s like, ‘I’m more Fred than Ricky, ‘I’m more Ethel than Lucy.’ We have merchandise for everyone.
“It’s a cool day, and cool to see people remembering Lucy,” he added. “I doubt there are many shows that celebrate a 65-year anniversary that people recognize as much.
“It’s a testament to Lucy and the impact she had.”