Two days from now will mark the 60th anniversary of one of television’s most groundbreaking events— the birth of Little Ricky on I Love Lucy. The episode, titled “Lucy Goes to the Hospital,” proved memorable for two reasons: First, nearly 99 percent of households watching television that night tuned in (that’s the highest Nielsen share in history) and second, Lucille Ball was the first actress not only to be pregnant on television but also to have her real-life pregnancy written into the show.
That practice has become common, but in 1953, with no one leading the way for women on television, that choice took balls– so to speak. The 41-year-old was pregnant with her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr., to whom she gave birth hours before CBS aired the episode. “It’s a very cool moment in television history to recognize because it gives one a sense of the significance of the show in American culture at that time, and because [a 98.6% Nielsen share] will almost certainly never happen again,” said Journey Gunderson, executive director at the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy.
To help celebrate the anniversary, a new audiobook, I Love Lucy: The Untold Story, has been released. Written by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of Jess Oppenheimer (I Love Lucy co-creator, producer and head writer), the book is actually a fully cast radio play, which explores the creation of the iconic sitcom. In addition, the audio download includes plenty of funny anecdotes about life on set and as a bonus, a 15-minute previously unreleased interview with Jess Oppenheimer from 1961. At $15 – available on iTunes, Amazon and Audible – the audiobook is a must-have for all comedy lovers. Oh, and all proceeds go to the Motion Picture & Television Fund!
And because we really do love Lucy and our readers, we wanted you to check out this great 10-minute clip taken from the four-hour package. Enjoy!