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Found here

S1;E1 ~ September 20, 1986

Directed by Peter Baldwin ~ Written by Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Martin


Widow Lucy Barker moves in with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. She immediately clashes with her her brother-in-law Curtis, with whom she is part-owner of a hardware store.

Regular Cast

Lucille Ball (Lucy Barker)was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. She began her screen career in 1933 and was known in Hollywood as ‘Queen of the B’s’ due to her many appearances in ‘B’ movies. With Richard Denning, she starred in a radio program titled “My Favorite Husband” which eventually led to the creation of “I Love Lucy,” a television situation comedy in which she co-starred with her real-life husband, Latin bandleader Desi Arnaz. The program was phenomenally successful, allowing the couple to purchase what was once RKO Studios, re-naming it Desilu. When the show ended in 1960 (in an hour-long format known as “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour”) so did Lucy and Desi’s marriage. In 1962, hoping to keep Desilu financially solvent, Lucy returned to the sitcom format with “The Lucy Show,” which lasted six seasons. She followed that with a similar sitcom “Here’s Lucy” co-starring with her real-life children, Lucie and Desi Jr., as well as Gale Gordon, who had joined the cast of “The Lucy Show” during season two. Before her death in 1989, Lucy made one more attempt at a sitcom with “Life With Lucy,” also with Gordon.

Gale Gordon (Curtis McGibbon)was said to be the highest paid radio artist of the 1930’s and was in such demand that he often did two or more radio shows a day. His professional collaboration with Lucille Ball started in 1938 as the announcer of Jack Haley’s “The Wonder Show” (Wonder Bread was their sponsor). He played Mr. Atterbury on Lucy’s “My Favorite Husband” and was a front-runner for the part of Fred Mertz on “I Love Lucy.” When scheduling prevented his participation, he appeared as Mr. Littlefield, the Tropicana’s owner inntwoepisodes of the show. In addition to Mr. Littlefield, he played a Judge in “Lucy Makes Room for Danny,” a 1958 episode of “The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour.” “The Lucy Show” solidified his partnership with Lucille Ball for the rest of their careers. He went on to play Harrison Otis Carter in “Here’s Lucy,” Omar Whittaker in “Lucy Calls The President,” and Curtis McGibbon in “Life with Lucy.” He died in 1995 at the age of 89.

Ann Dusenberry (Margo Barker McGibbon) was born on September 13, 1953 in Tucson, Arizona, two weeks before the start of the third season of “I Love Lucy.”  In the film Jaws 2 (1978) she played Tina Wilcox, a victim of the great white shark. Her screen acting career began in 1975 and ended in 1992.

Larry Anderson (Ted McGibbon) was born the same day the “I Love Lucy” episode “The Saxophone” (ILL S2;E2) first aired.  He started his career as a professional magician and and played himself on the Bil Bixby series “The Magician” (1974), his screen debut. He also played Harlan Ramsey on “Brothers and Sisters” (1979). He recently appeared on “This is Us” (2017) and “Law & Order True Crime” (2017). Larry has hosted or been the ‘product expert’ on numerous successful infomercial campaigns.

Jenny Lewis (Becky McGibbon) was born on January 8, 1976 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her acting debut was in a Jell-O commercial. She played Neala on “Shannon’s Deal” (1990) and Katie on “Brooklyn Bridge” (1991). She is currently the lead singer of the rock band Rilo Kiley.

Philip Amelio (Kevin McGibbon) made his screen debut on “Life With Lucy” at the age of 10. He played Stephen Baldwin’s younger self in the film Born on the Fourth of July (1989).  He gave up acting by his early teens to pursue sports and a career in teaching. In March 2005, he complained of a sore back and his doctors assumed that he was suffering from herniated disc or sciatica. However, he in fact had a bacterial infection of the heart valve that flared up due to the misdiagnosis of his condition. Philip died on April 1, 2005 at the age of 27.

Donovan Scott (Leonard Stoner) was born on September 29, 1947 in Chico, California. He made his screen debut in 1979 and was seen on “Alaska Kid” (1993) as Shorty. Lately, Scott has been frequently cast as Santa Claus in more than 15 films and TV shows! He also played Santa Clause on an insurance commercial.  

Leonard is a clerk at M&B Hardware. He is trying to quit smoking.

Guest Cast

Ruth Kobart (Mrs. Finley) was an opera singer who went into musical comedy and played Miss Jones in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961) and repeated the role in the 1967 film. She was nominated for a 1962 Tony Award for playing Domina, the shrewish wife in another long titled show, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Kobart died in 2002.  

Mrs. Finley has been a customer of M&B Hardware for 20 years.

Gary Allen (Customer Who Just Wants To Browse) made his screen debut on “The Jack Benny Show” in 1956.  He played Norman on “Harper Valley PTA” (1981) and just prior to “Life With Lucy” he did a 13-episode stint on the soap opera “Santa Barbara” as Owen.  

A female customer with no dialogue is played by an uncredited background performer.

Life with Lucy” aired from September 20 to November 15, 1986. Only 8 out of the 13 episodes produced (14 were written) were aired before ABC canceled the series. Unlike Ball’s previous sitcoms, “Life with Lucy” was critically panned and a ratings flop. In 2002, TV Guide named the show the twenty-sixth worst TV series of all time. Its quick cancellation was devastating to Ball, who believed that America did not want her kind of comedy anymore.  

Lucy Barker: “Being despised takes a lot out of you.”

Ball played a widowed grandmother who had inherited her husband’s half-interest in a hardware store in South Pasadena, California, the other half being owned by his partner, widower Curtis McGibbon. Lucy’s character insisted on 'helping’ in the store, even though when her husband was alive she had taken no part in the business and knew nothing about it. Lucy’s daughter Margo is married to Curtis’ son, Larry, and all of them, along with their young grandchildren Becky and Kevin, lived together under one roof.

In 1984 NBC had a massive success with “The Cosby Show” and “The Golden Girls” so combining a family sitcom with comedy legends was appealing to ABC as counter-programming. Producer Aaron Spelling (who had appeared on an episode of “I Love Lucy” in 1955, above) had been talking with Ball and her second husband Gary Morton since 1979 about possibly doing another series. Ball was hesitant, but agreed as long as she was given complete creative control. Spelling later regretted agreeing to her demands. Naturally, Ball wanted her original writers, Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis.

The show’s theme song by Martin Silvestri, Jeremy Stone, and Joel Higgins, was performed by Eydie Gormé , who had guest-starred on “Here’s Lucy” in 1973 (above). An alternate theme was written by Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, with Cy Coleman, but was rejected. Lucie had appeared in Coleman’s musical Seesaw on Broadway and on tour.

“Life With Lucy” was never syndicated, re-run, or released on home video; it briefly re-aired on Nick at Nite as part of a Lucille Ball-themed marathon in 1996. The episodes were originally aired by ABC out of filming order.

Peter Baldwin directed the first episode and four more episodes of the series. He previously won a directing Emmy for a 1972 episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”  After “Life With Lucy” he won two more Emmy Awards.  Baldwin died in 2017.

In addition to writers Carroll and Davis, hairstylist Irma Kusely and sound engineer Cam McCullough had both worked on all Ball’s television shows since the early 1950s.  

Madelyn Martin was also a producer and hired her son, Michael Q. Martin (Quinn Martin’s son) as an assistant. Thomas J. Watson, president of Ball’s fan club and author of books about the star, was also hired as a production assistant.

The same evening the series premiered, September 20, 1986 ABC also premiered “The Ellen Burstyn Show” as Lucy’s follow-up. Like “Life With Lucy,” it starred a beloved Hollywood actress in a family situation comedy. Burstyn played college professor Ellen Brewer, who had to deal not only with the students, but also with her meddling mother (Elaine Stritch), her divorced daughter (Megan Mullally), and her five year-old grandson. As with “Life With Lucy” it was not well received and was canceled before the end of the year. ABC’s 9 o'clock hour fared no better.  The new crime drama “Heart of the City” starring Christina Applegate was also canceled after its initial 13 episodes, although the first episode still managed to earn an Emmy Award for cinematography. By the first week of 1987 ABC’s entire Saturday night line-up had been gutted.

Over on NBC at 9pm, Lucy’s Mame co-star Bea Arthur was thriving on “The Golden Girls,” although their season did not launch until September 27, 1986. Interestingly, Elaine Stritch was nearly cast as one of the “Golden Girls,” but instead landed instead on ABC with “The Ellen Burstyn Show.”  

CBS, Lucille Ball’s former network home, was still airing repeats and would not debut their new season until September 27. So for one night, Lucy was up against Angela Lansbury’s ratings-winner “Murder She Wrote.” Ironically, Lucy and Lansbury had both played the title role in the musical Mame; Lansbury on stage, and Lucy on film, so it was the battle of the Mames!  Lucy won the night in the ratings, clearing the top twenty, but likely because “Murder She Wrote” was a rerun. 

This was the first time in Lucy’s career her sitcom was not seen on a Monday nights. During the heyday of “I Love Lucy” in the 1950s the evening 'belonged’ to Ball. It is said that businesses often closed or saw a drop off in sales on Monday evenings due to people gathering around the TV to watch “I Love Lucy.”

While she did not get her old time slot, Lucy did get to name her character using the letter combination of “AR” that had brought her so much luck in the past: ARnaz, RicARdo, CARmichael, CARter, and now BARker. It was Carole Lombard’s mother who suggested to Lucy that the letters would bring her luck.  

The very first frame of the series is an exterior shot of a van with the sign “Martin’s You Move It! Pasadena, Calif. 555-1234” pulling away from a suburban home, moving boxes on the front porch.  The name is a tribute to writer Madelyn Martin, who had been writing for Ball since her days on radio and contributed to all of her television endeavors. The brief shot also quickly establishes the show’s location (Pasadena) and that someone (Lucy) is moving in!

Margo remarks that her mother brought all her board games: backgammon, Trivial Pursuit, and Scrabble. Lucille Ball was a devoted game player and even endorsed several commercially available games with her photo on the box. Ball’s board game enthusiasm made its way into the scripts of several episodes of “Here’s Lucy.”  

Lucy Barker: “It’s so good to be here!”

Lucille Ball makes her much-anticipated first entrance two and a half minutes into the episode, holding a potted plant and enthusiastically greeted by her grandchildren, Becky and Kevin. Except for guest starring on “The Practice” for her old friend Danny Thomas in 1976, this is her first time on series television since “Here’s Lucy” ended in 1974. This is also the first time she has been called Grandma. Lucille Ball was then 75 years old and in real-life had four grandchildren: Julia, Simon, Joseph and Kate, who was just one year old at the time. Ball not only gets an enthusiastic round of applause from the studio audience on her entrance, but also on her exit, marching up the stairs to her third floor bedroom holding her plant.

When Kevin asks Lucy what spider mites are, Lucy imitates them eating plants by making one of her classic funny faces – the first sign that Lucille Ball is back. More funny faces ensue when Lucy drinks her own healthy concoction of yogurt, wheat grass and bee pollen. It is similar to her face of shock and revulsion when Lucy Ricardo first tasted Vitameatavegamin (above).

Curtis: (To Lucy) “I never think of you as family.”

Lucy moves in while her brother-law Curtis (Gale Gordon) is on vacation in Hawaii. Hawaii, a favorite get-away destination of the Arnaz family, has been mentioned since the early days of “I Love Lucy.” Gordon’s entrance comes nine minutes into the episode and he is also greeted by studio audience applause and hugs from his grandchildren. Gordon was 80 at the time and had no children or grandchildren – just seven dogs!

We learn that Lucy’s deceased husband was named Sam. In both “Here’s Lucy” and “The Lucy Show” Ball played widows, but her husbands’ names were never revealed. It was Ball’s opinion that death was one of the things that couldn’t be funny.  

Margo: (To Lucy, who is laughing) “It’s not really funny, Mom.”
Lucy: (stops laughing) “No, not really.”

Health conscious Lucy warns Leonard about the dangers of smoking. Ball herself was a life-long smoker. “I Love Lucy” was initially sponsored by the Philip Morris tobacco company. 

When Lucy comes jogging through the front door jiving to unheard music on her headphones, Ted asks Lucy if it is Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller she’s listening to.  Lucy replies, “No, Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs!”  Clearly this is a new-age Lucy. Benny Goodman (1909-86) had been mentioned in all of Ball’s sitcoms:

 In “The Publicity Agent” (ILL S1;E31) Lucy Ricardo reads that the Shah of Persia has a standing order for all Benny Goodman’s records, which inspires her disguise as the Maharincess of Franistan. 

In “Lucy the Music Lover” (TLS S1;E8) Lucy Carmichael prefers Benny Goodman over boring classical music when staging a benefit concert. 

Phil Harris’ clarinetist Ted Nash plays in the style of Benny Goodman in “Lucy Strikes Up the Band” (HL S6;E21) when Lucy Carter gets in the act.   

Pasadena had often been used as the punchline of jokes about its senior citizen population due to the popularity of the Jan and Dean song “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”  In “Lucy Meets Liberace” (HL S2;E16) Liberace says of his light-up jacket: This’ll really turn them on in Pasadena!”  

In “Lucy and the Ex-Con” (HL S1;E15) Lucy and Wally Cox go undercover as typical little old ladies named Abigail Throckmorton and Lydia Perkins. Cox adds “of the Pasadena Perkins’.”  

Coincidentally, actor William Holden was raised in South Pasadena and graduated high school there. Holden was the first celebrity guest-star on “I Love Lucy” when the show was set in Hollywood.  

Throughout the series, Lucille Ball indulges in physically comedy surrounding the hardware store’s shelf ladder on wheels. This same device was used by Lucy Carter in “Lucy, the American Mother” (HL S3;E7) when Lucy caused havoc in an otherwise quiet library.  

Another physical comedy bit involves shredding Curtis’ necktie in a hand-cranked pasta maker. Gale Gordon has lost a few ties to Lucy in the past.  In “Lucy and the Missing Stamp” (TLS S3;E14) Lucy accidentally sucks up Mr. Mooney’s tie in the hose of a Handy Dandy vacuum cleaner and Viv has to cut it free.  

Lucy Carter stapled a contract to Harry’s necktie in “Lucy, the Cement Worker” (HL S2;E10) and cut the document off with a scissors. 

She then converted his severed necktie into a bowtie!

Much to the chagrin of Curtis, Lucy has re-arranged the merchandise at the hardware store in alphabetical order. Filing has never been Lucy’s strong-suit. It frustrated Gale Gordon as Mr. Mooney and Harrison Carter!

When the industrial-sized fire extinguisher turns the hardware store into a virtual foam party, it is reminiscent of when Lucy Carter and Kim were engulfed by suds while shampooing pooches in “The Bow Wow Boutique” (HL S6;E5).  

Foam also flooded Mr. Mooney’s office in “Lucy’s Substitute Secretary” (TLS S5;E14) when a rug shampoo machine runs amok!  

This Day in Lucy History

  • “Lucy and the Mountain Climber” (HL S4;E2) September 20, 1971

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