In an archived interview, the late Lucille Ball gushed that her time with I Love Lucy was filled with fond memories. The episode she went into labor, however, was her “happiest memory.”
The installment, titled Lucy Goes to the Hospital, aired in 1953. In it, Lucy gives birth to her onscreen son, Ricky Ricardo Jr. At the time of filming, the actress was actually pregnant with her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr. So acting out the upcoming big day was particularly special.
“I was really having a baby. It was really my last show before I had the baby. And it was for real, and it was the most exciting thing in my life,” she admitted.
The Word ‘Pregnant’ Deemed too ‘Suggestive’ For ‘I Love Lucy’
Interestingly, I Love Lucy was the first major network series to showcase a pregnant woman on TV, and Lucy was the second actress to show her growing stomach on the airwaves. When she first told CBS execs she was pregnant, they insisted she hide her condition during filming just as she did when she was pregnant with her first child, Lucie. But this time, she and her husband refused. They believed it was the perfect opportunity to grow the Ricardo family. Eventually, CBS caved. But they gave the couple one hard rule.
According to Time, the subject of pregnancy was far too taboo for the average 1950s audience. Executives said it was sexually suggestive and broke The Code of Practices for Television Broadcasters. So, to ease people into the idea, the writers made sure to only refer to Lucy as “expecting” or “with child.” The episode that reveals Lucy’s bundle of joy is named Lucy Is Enceinte. Enceinte is French for “pregnant.”
Lucille scheduled a c-section on January 19, 1953. That happened to be the exact day that Lucy Goes to the Hospital aired. Her onscreen and offscreen doctors were also both named Dr. Harris. So Lucille Ball went to great lengths to celebrate her real and fictional births. The majority of the United States was there to celebrate with her, too.
According to MeTV, 72% of households with TVs tuned into Lucy Goes to the Hospital, which equaled about 44 million people. That next night, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was sworn into office. It was only the second time a presidential inauguration aired on television, and only 29 million people watched that. The numbers proved that the majority of the population wasn’t actually offended when Lucille Ball dared to be pregnant on network TV.
- New Behind-the-Scenes ‘Married… With Children’ Memoir Coming Soon
- What Happened to Jasmine Guy? What the ‘A Different World’ Star is Doing Now
- ‘The Outsiders’ Director Shares Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon Casting Video 42 Years Later
- When Does an Old Car Become a Classic?
- Kadeem Hardison Net Worth: How Much Did the ‘A Different World’ Star Make Per Episode?