Archive for the ‘"I Love Lucy"’ Category

Remembering “I Love Lucy” Editor Dann Cahn

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The Archive is sad to hear of the death of editor Dann Cahn, who passed away on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at the age of 89. Cahn edited I Love Lucy and several other Desilu productions, including Our Miss Brooks, The Untouchables, and The Loretta Young Show Cahn also edited The Beverly Hillbillies, Police Woman, and Remington Steele and served as head of Post Production at Glen Larson Productions.

Below are some selections from Cann’s 1999 Archive interview:

On acting when he was a child:

I went out on another set around nineteen-thirty-seven. These Dead End Kids were the rage, and we were in for a long series of tough kid pictures. They went from being the little tough guys to the Bowery Boys at Monogram. They went on and on and on making these tough kid movies. Well, I was out on the set and the producer had quite a close relationship with my dad. He’d cut several pictures for him.  nd he took a look at me – and I was the same age as the kids, or maybe a couple of years younger – and he said, “gee, Danny, you ought to be in the picture.” I looked at my dad and he said, “okay.”  So I went and joined the Screen Actors Guild. I still have my card.

On watching his father edit:

I’d watch my dad work in the cutting room and I’d learn how to, well actually, by the time I was in my teens I knew how to splice film. At that point the machine to put film together was what they called a foot pedestal hot splicer. It had two pedals like your brake and clutch on an old car, and you took these blades up and you put the film in and you brought it down with film cement, which splashed all over you. It was a mess. Smelled kind of like fingernail polish, but it was much more potent. Then you had to use acetone, which is a very strong chemical, to keep the machine clean because the cement would clog it up. It was a kind of dirty job.

On how he got hired on I Love Lucy:

A young fellow stuck his head in the cutting room door from his cutting room down the hall, and his name was Bill Asher. I had known Bill from before the war – when I was an apprentice he was an assistant editor – he’s a couple of years older than me. He showed me the initial ropes of how to splice and number film. The war had come and ten years had gone by. So he said, “Danny,” he said, “I just got offered a job to cut a thing with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz called I Love Lucy. It’s going to be for CBS. I’m directing and cutting some very short films that I’m trying to get going, and I wrote them too, and I don’t want to take an editing job; I want to make it as a director. So I’m going to pass but I can get you an interview with the producer, who I know, uh, if you’re interested.” I said, “well, yeah, I’m looking for new connections.  I’ll go if I can get the interview.” It was arranged and I went and I met Jess Oppenheimer.

On editing I Love Lucy:

Mark (Daniels) was so involved, he just said, “I’ll see you at the dailies.” I came to the show that Saturday night, the film went to the lab, came out Monday morning, and I said to Bud, “they’ve got this thing here, this multiple moviola, but I’ve never run it. I’m going to have to mark each moviola and take a guess when I make cuts, and it’s going to take time.” Al Simon, who had hired George Fox said, “well, you should try this multiple-headed moviola, and it’s going to save you time. George swears by it.” So they bring this thing over on a truck and it’s like three moviolas in a line with a sound head, and it’s in a big base.  And I said, “what are we going to do with this three-headed monster?”  Bud Molin, who at the time was my assistant, started to laugh, and he says, “yeah, it really is a monster.” We didn’t know where to put it. It wouldn’t fit in our tiny cutting room, where I had one moviola. So they put it in the prop room, where all the props for the show were kept, and the corner of the prop room was part of our sound stage, and that’s where we put the monster.” I had a little mini bleachers made for about four people so they could see the dailies.

On the reaction to his cut of the first episode of I Love Lucy:

The silence seemed an eternity to me. And then Lucy was sitting directly behind me. Desi didn’t open his mouth himself. And Lucy put her hands on my shoulders and she says, “Danny, it’s a good cutting job.” That broke the tension and everybody started talking. “Oh yeah, it’s going to be a hit. It’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be fine.” They were all congratulating each other and themselves for coming up with this I Love Lucy.

On the transition of I Love Lucy to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour:

On editing The Beverly Hillbillies:

I did the whole year of The Beverly Hillbillies. I did what two editors had done the year before. I did it all myself, except for the Christmas show. And they promised me certain things that for reasons I won’t go into, they didn’t deliver it. They wanted me to pick it up for the third season, just the way I did.  And I recommended a pal of mine, who, from the Republic days we had been assistant editors together, and his name was Bob Leeds, and I recommended him as the editor, and he signed up and took my job, which I gave to him. Some of us weren’t through cutting our competition. We were friends with it.  Paul liked Bob, and the guy he picked as third year director collapsed, and Bob Leeds became the director of The Beverly Hillbillies. If I just stayed I would have been the director of The Beverly Hillbillies. That’s timing, and I missed it again.

On editing:

Watch Dann Cahn’s full Archive interview and read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Remembering William Asher

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report that director/producer William Asher passed away on Monday, July 16, 2012 at the age of 90. Asher got his big break at Desilu, first directing episodes of Our Miss Brooks, and then becoming a regular director of I Love Lucy (he directed the famous “Job Switching” episode where Lucy and Ethel work in a candy factory). Asher went on to direct episodes of The Danny Thomas Show, co-created The Patty Duke Show with writer Sidney Sheldon, and created Bewitched for then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery. Asher also directed JFK’s Inaugural Ball and the President’s famous Birthday Special with guest singer Marilyn Monroe.

Here are some selections from Asher’s 2000 Archive interview:

On how directing Our Miss Brooks led to directing I Love Lucy:

I had a contract to do the first ten if Our Miss Brooks sold, and it did. And Lucy and Desi and everybody wanted me to come on and do their show. So everything happened at once. I found myself doing both shows at the same time. That was a challenge, because they overlapped during the week. I’d work the first couple of days rehearsing Our Miss Brooks and then I’d start with Lucy. I don’t remember quite how it worked, but I did those first ten shows and broke in Sheldon Leonard as the director.

On directing the “Job Switching” episode of I Love Lucy:

It was one of the most memorable of the shows, actually. It was where she and Ethel got a job, dipping candy, chocolates. The boys would take care of the house, do all the home work, and the girls would go out and make a living while Ricky and Fred made dinner and cleaned up the apartments. It didn’t work either way. We did scenes with Desi and Fred messing up the house and dinner and everything, while we were cross-cutting with Vivian and Lucy screwing up dipping the chocolate. It was quite a wild scene or scenes, I should say – both sides of it.  They came home a wreck and the guys were a wreck, then everything got back together again.

On working with William Frawley on I Love Lucy:

On directing three cameras at Desilu (the first studio to use three):

The cameras came in and they were rehearsed and they were all marked on the floor what the scene was – little tapes – and what number it was in terms of their movement. They would follow the A, B, C, whichever letter, and go from one, two, three, four, five, six – whatever the numbers were and the character. We had no trouble at all with that and it seemed to baffle people. I don’t know why, but people would come and ask, “how do you do this?” It was really very simple.

On Lucille Ball telling Desi Arnaz that she was pregnant with Desi Jr., during the taping of I Love Lucy:

When she was pregnant with Desi, little Desi, we wrote it into the story so that she was actually pregnant. One of our best shows was when she told Desi she was pregnant. She kept trying to tell him and he just didn’t hear it. She went down to the club, she sat there on the chair and he had a song he was going to sing to someone who was pregnant in the audience, and she set it up. I forget exactly how we did that, but he went around the room singing this song, “We’re Having a Baby,” and he came to her and she said “yes,” then he went on and two people later he had his double-take that she had nodded yes. He ran back to the table and he said, “really?” and she said, “yes.” And he sang to her. It was very moving. It really was.

On directing JFK’s Inaugural Ball:

It was a fabulous show. We had a cast of people that you could never, ever achieve.  Closed two Broadway shows with actors who came in to do the show. The weather was terrible. Just awful. The show went on about two hours late because people couldn’t get there. I know we picked up a couple of people who were stranded. But when everybody got there, at the armory, the show went on and it was wonderful.

On being scheduled to have dinner with Peter Lawford and Marilyn Monroe the night Monroe died:

The night that she killed herself Peter Lawford called me. We were going to have dinner with her, and Peter called me and said, “I can’t get her on the phone. I’ve been calling.” I had been down at the beach with her and Peter, and she left with her publicity girl, whose name escapes me. He said, “I can’t get her on the phone, the line’s busy. Why don’t we cancel dinner and I’ll keep trying to get her, and if I can you can come on down to the beach (where he lived).” I said, “fine,” and he called me again, then he called me again about twelve o’clock, and he said, “I’m worried about her. I think we should go over and see what’s happening at the house.” I said, “Peter, I don’t think we should do that. I think she’s probably asleep with pills and she’ll be fine.” He said, “well, I’m worried.” I said, “I tell you what you do. Call Joe Kennedy.” Joe Kennedy and I had become very friendly, and I said, “you call Joe and ask him what to do.”  He did and Joe told him, “under no circumstances go there.” There’s just nothing to be gained. It was about three or four o’clock he called me, and he said that Mrs. Murphy, her maid, had called her doctor, who came over and broke into her bedroom, and she was dead. Whether or not Peter and I going there earlier would have saved her life, I don’t know. That haunts me.

On shooting The Patty Duke Show:

United Artists had a deal with me to do a pilot, and they selected Patty… We did the pilot here and she played two characters, and playing two characters took a lot of time. We’d have to stop it and she would change and it was a hard show to do. Under the children’s labor laws of California, there was a limit of only, I don’t know, eight hours or something when she could work. When the show sold we went to New York where there were no rules. The little boy who played her brother – their family didn’t want to go to New York, so we were in New York and we recast the little brother, and he was playing “Oliver” in the show “Oliver.” He was in the show ’til midnight and on our set at eight o’clock in the morning. Nobody complained about it.  It was fine.

On creating Bewitched:

Liz and I had done a movie together, Johnny Cool, and we started going together, and we got married, and I was busy doing television and so was she. She made up her mind she didn’t want to work anymore. She insisted upon it. She had an offer of some kind and she turned it down, and she just wasn’t going to work anymore. I said, “this is not right. This isn’t fair. You’re too good. You just don’t belong retired.” We’d had a baby, and she said, “I don’t want to leave the baby, and I don’t want to be away from you. I just don’t want to work.” I suggested, “what if we do something together, how would you feel about that?” She said,”I would do that. If you can find something.” So I wrote something. I was doing a pilot with Paul Lynde, and I wrote something for us to do and submitted it to Columbia, and they liked it, but they said it’s close to something else that we have. My script was about a young girl, like a Gidget character, who was going with a boy on the beach, and there were no last names on the beach. The beach kids all had only first names. They were in love and they got married and on the night of their marriage she tells him that she’s the daughter of J. Paul Getty or the equivalent. He was furious. He said, “that’s something you tell him after you marry him? You tell before!” They had quite a scene about that. He said, “your family’ll be interfering all the time.” They had a house at the beach on stilts, and he worked at a gas station, and when the surf was up, he was out there with her. That was the basic idea… Columbia said, “we have something here that was written for Tammy Grimes and we like it and want you to read it. Well, I read it to Elizabeth and she liked it very much. The problem with it was it was dark, it was very witchy. It was boiling cauldrons and cobwebs and quite witchy. I didn’t like that. I thought she should be the girl-next-door, what she ultimately became. I went back to Columbia and I said, “let me do a rewrite on this,” and they said, “if we like it we’ll do it.” I did the rewrite. Elizabeth typed it, they liked it and we did it. It was all very quick.

On “Samantha’s” nose twitch on Bewitched:

That was something that I saw Elizabeth do. I was looking for something that was inherent in her to motivate the witchcraft, and I didn’t want to do any abracadabra stuff. She had done that, and when I first realized that would make a good motivator for the witchcraft I told her about it, and I tried to show her what it was, and she said, “I’ve never done anything like that.” I said, “you have, and I want to use it.” She said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I kept after her and as we got closer and closer to doing the show, I kept pushing on her to try and remember it. The night before we did the show she was at the bar making a drink and she spilled something or did some kind of a mistake, and she did it, and I said, “that’s it, that’s it!” She did it, “that?” I said, “that’s it. That is it.” She said, “I don’t want to do that.” I said, “yes, you do. That’s it.” That’s how it was born.

On directing 1960’s beach party films:

The idea came from American International Pictures. Sam Arkoff and Jim Nicholson came to me to do a beach concept, and they had a script and it wasn’t right at all. It was like all the others. It just wasn’t very good, or at least I didn’t think so. I felt that the beach pictures should be about young people having a good time, with no heavies, no parents, no last names, no sex. Just fun. When I told them that they said, “well, what would it be about?” I said, “just what I said – it would be about having a good time.” I’d have comedy heavies in it and I’d have a bike group, which would be the Von Zipper and his gang, and treat it all comically. It would just be fun. They accepted it.

On advice to an aspiring director:

Directing is an instinctive thing. It’s knowing the material, understanding it, getting that character out of the actor. There are no tricks to it. You’re in charge of everything. You’re in charge of the cameramen, the photography is in your hands, the casting, the art direction… The whole package is the director. Even though there’s a producer, it’s in the director’s hands. It’s a very taxing job. It’s hard work. It really is. You get there early, you’re the first one there, and you’ll be the last one to leave. It’s a lot of work. Very tough. I don’t know how you’d break someone in. I’ve done it, but I did it just in the way I explained it to you. You’ve got to be prepared to do that and know how to do it. A lot of people have that and a lot of people don’t.

On how he’d like to be remembered:

I think as a good director. That’s it.

Watch William Asher’s full Archive interview

Read his obituary in The Hollywood Reporter

Remembering Doris Singleton

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of actress Doris Singleton. Singleton passed away on June 26th at the age of 92. The multi-talented performer began her career as a ballet dancer in New York and transitioned to work as a singer and actress in network radio, where she appeared on many of the medium’s now-classic shows. She is probably best known in television for her recurring roles as “Carolyn Appleby,” one of Lucy’s friends on I Love Lucy; and as “Magda” on Hogan’s Heroes. She was married to writer Charlie Isaacs, who passed away in 2002.

The Archive interviewed her in 2005. Here are some selections from the interview:

On working on I Love Lucy

The camera over here was Lucy’s, over there was Desi’s, and there was one in the middle that got the whole thing.  You had to be very, very careful in your scenes with them that you did not put a hand in her camera. You had to be sure that you were back far enough.  It was quite different.  We didn’t have any teleprompters — we had notes all over a sweaty palm, which didn’t do us any good at all. And then there were many funny things that happened. Lucy and Vivian Vance were in a scene, and they were having a hard time because we had changes up to the very last minute.  And they were having a hard time with this particular scene and remembering the changes, so they wrote them all out on the coffee table, and that was fine.  And then we always had a break between acts.  The prop man would come and spray you if you had any jewelry on, anything that glittered was sprayed.  And then he sprayed their whole coffee table, and they had all of their notes on the table, so that was obliterated completely.  But they did it just fine.

On her recurring character on I Love Lucy, “Carolyn Appleby”

On the legacy of I Love Lucy

Every woman thinks that she sees herself in Lucy, wanting to do something more.  This was before women’s liberation and everything, and women were still housewives and they took care of the children and that was it, and they didn’t have big careers and so forth.  So she represented  what a lot of women would like to have in their lives.  And the show was funny.  It was clean.  It could be seen by anyone of the family, from the little child to the grandmother, and it wasn’t going to offend anyone. Of course, at that time, there was a lot of censorship.  I mean, they couldn’t be in the same bed together, ever.  And they couldn’t say when she was pregnant.  It had to be, “we’re having a baby.” and they did.

On her advice to aspiring actors

On a photo with her husband, writer Charlie Isaacs

That is my husband, Charlie Isaacs.  Best, best writer in television, bar none.  And that’s Doris Singleton, his loving wife.  Married for 60 years.  And loving every minute.

The entire 3-1/2 hour Archive of American Television interview is available at

Vitameatavegamin Time! Lucy Did a TV Commercial 60 Years Ago

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

When you think of I Love Lucy, a few images probably spring to mind. Lucy stomping on grapes, Lucy and Ethel stuffing bon-bons down their shirts, and Lucy attempting to say “Vitameatavegamin.” That last scene occurred on the 30th episode of the show, “Lucy Does a TV Commercial”, which first aired on CBS sixty years ago on May 5, 1952.

In the classic episode, Ricky is hosting a TV show and needs someone to do a commercial spot. Lucy begs to do it, but Ricky refuses, even after Lucy pulls apart their television set, climbs inside and demonstrates what a fine spokeswoman she would be. She schemes her way onto the show, and does take after take of the ad for the cure-all tonic “Vitameatavegamin,” which contains 23% alcohol. The more takes she does, the better the product tastes, and the harder it is for Lucy to stay on script:

Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. wrote “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” and shared just how many takes the scene really took to shoot – a whopping one:

The episode ranked #2 on TV Guide’s List of Top 100 TV Episodes of All Time, beaten only by The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s “Chuckles Bites the Dust.” Here’s hoping you don’t pop out at your parties this weekend — it will make you quite “unpoopular”!

- by Adrienne Faillace

“I Love Lucy” Turns 60 – The Archive has some ’splaining to do

Friday, October 14th, 2011

I Love Lucy debuted 60 years ago on October 15, 1951 and within 6 months became the first TV show to be seen in 10 million homes. Today it’s still broadcast in reruns all over the world. The Archive has not only conducted interviews with many of the show’s cast and crew members, but with numerous other TV legends who were fans of or inspired by the popular sitcom.

Watch Archive interviewees Sheldon Leonard, Dann Cahn, William Asher, Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr., Army Archerd, Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf, Jay Sandrich, Mary Tyler Moore, Keith Thibodeaux, Sidney Lumet,  A.C Lyles, John Forsythe, Doris Singleton, and Dixon Dern reminisce about I Love Lucy in this video:

Here are a few more little-known facts about I Love Lucy, straight from those who worked on the show:

Irma Kusely
- I Love Lucy’s hairdresser

“Philip Morris was the sponsor. And Desi smoked Chesterfields. So I don’t know how they did that.”  

Dann Cahn
– Editor

“Ten minutes at a time. Each reel of film, of a load, was ten minutes.  They timed a scene to be shot within ten minutes. They never ran ten. Seven, eight were the most… Then they’d entertain the audience and they’d do another one.”

Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. – Writers

“Sometimes he would fool us. We wrote it and he says, ‘he wouldn’t say it that way.’ I forget the word, a couple of them were like that … He never minded and there’s an interesting thing, he admitted years later, sometimes there’d be a joke that was based on American slang or something… And he wouldn’t know what it was, but he never let on … we’d do some little joke on that and he never said a word. He told me, ‘well, I figured you guys said it was funny, it was funny, but I didn’t know what it meant.’”

Dann Cahn – Editor

“I packed up and I met an agency in New York and I went across the George Washington Bridge and made that famous first process shot for television – which was when they went across the bridge singing “California Here We Come.” They were in the Pontiac with the top down, but they were sitting on the sound stage with the audience. And behind them was the what we called process film plate, which I shot out of the rear end of a station wagon of going across the bridge, and it was projected behind them on the screen. And that was the first process photography for television. Momentous moment, and it looked great, and there’s still stills all over the place of them on the bridge driving in the Pontiac, which you can buy anywhere.”

Ted Rich – Editor’s apprentice

“They’d shoot the shows – like on The Lucy Show, we’d shoot on Thursday. It’d start on Monday, but Desi wanted to shoot the show on Thursday because he loved to play golf and they had a home in Palm Springs. And they’d take off Friday and they’d go away.  So they’d shoot the show on Thursday.”

Ted Rich – Editor’s apprentice

“We had Dean Martin, coming on as a guest on the show. They were scared to death because Dean Martin would not rehearse. He would not come in at all. He did it spontaneous as he came on. And they – Desi Arnaz was so worried and Billy Asher was our director. They were so concerned, because sometimes, I don’t know whether it was true about whether he had an alcohol problem or what. You never know when you’re relaxed and you have an audience there. But they went ahead with the show because they had him billed for it and the script written for him and, by gosh, we filmed the show and Deanwalked right on and did his scene and it worked great and it was hysterical.  But the cameras don’t know where he’s going to be or what and again, he’s saying that same thing, once he got on the set, stay with him. Because even though he’s doing that episode, he’s going to finish. If we miss Lucy or Desi Arnaz in something of the coverage – we can pick it up the next episode. It wouldn’t be a problem because the sets didn’t change that much. But it was scary in those kinds of situations when we had a person like that come on and you don’t know what to expect. It was a nail-biting time for them.”

Jay Sandrich
– Assistant Director

“One of the most interesting experiences I had is when we did an hour show with Red Skelton. There was a scene in a boxcar and they’re both hobos as they called them in those days, and he is doing a pantomime of eating a meal and she’s supposed to do it exactly the way he did it. So she stopped him in rehearsal when he started, and he was a great pantomimist and she said, ‘how do you do that?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know. I just do it.’ And she said, ‘no you, you’ve got to show me.’ He said, ‘well what do you mean?’ She goes, ’show me how you do it.’ So for about two or three hours, he tutored her. ‘Well you’ve got to feel that there’s a glass there. You got to feel the weight, when you bring it up to your lips and you’ve got to pretend like you’re swallowing the liquid.’ And she’d say, ’show me.’ And he’d do it, not quickly. He’d have to do it moment by moment by moment. By the end of those two or three hours, whatever it was, she was as good as he was.”

Jay Sandrich – Assistant Director

“The other one I remember which was not a happy experience, we had a bunch of chickens, baby chicks and they bought them at the beginning of the week and they were in a box. And by the time Thursday came around, take the lid off the box, one of ‘em was big enough to crawl out of the box and crawl on the floor and one of the cameras rolled over it right in front of the audience. I mean the cameraman didn’t see it or anything, and try to get an audience to laugh after they’d just seen a baby chick run over. Horrible.”

Keith Thibodeaux – Little Ricky

“No, never, never did… Well only thing I can guess is that they wanted people to think that little Ricky was their real son, Desi Jr., Desi Arnaz Jr. So whenever I did get mentioned, it was always, ‘Lucile Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley, Vivian Vance, and Little Ricky,’ so it could have been Rin Tin Tin for that matter.”

- by Adrienne Faillace

For even more about I Love Lucy, click here to visit the Archive’s show page.

6 Things You May Not Know about Lucille Ball

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Tomorrow, August 6, 2011, marks Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday! Sadly, Lucy passed away in 1989, before the Archive of American Television was founded. Fortunately, the Archive has captured many interviews with her friends and colleagues in its collection. Here are a few selections:

Irma Kusely – Lucille Ball’s Hairdresser

“Her hair color? I call it apricot but a lot of people think of it as red.  It’s not red at all.  It’s a golden apricot color. We used regular hair dye when I did her own hair. We then used as a balance, a henna rinse, which she was famous for. She had a safe of it  in my garage …  She loved to gamble and when we did a show in Las Vegas, she met a very wealthy sheik and he heard about her problem about the henna and he said he would send her the henna. And he did.  She moved a box of henna which was in my garage but in the safe. There was a lot of it left when she left this world, but I had to give it to the estate. I don’t know what little Lucie did with it, maybe sold it for a million dollars. Just for a spoonful, can you imagine what I could’ve made with that?”

Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. – Writers

“The TV commercial was scripted. It took us a day and a half to get that name Vitameatavegamin, too.  That was a tough one. The most amazing thing is that she didn’t use any cue cards.  She did that whole thing in one take.  Which she did a lot.  She and Harpo Marx, same thing. They just did it, in front of the audience. They didn’t need any retakes, amazing.”

Watch the famous take below:

Dann Cahn – editor

“In those early seasons of I Love Lucy, we had the terrible Red scare, where they called Lucy a Communist and everybody was walking around in Hollywood afraid that we’d be called up before the House Un-American Activities Committee. They had to apologize to Lucy because she was no more red than her hair was, which wasn’t red. Her grandpa had been a Socialist, and somehow she had signed a card to the Communist Party for the old man to keep him quiet.  That was a big scare for a week and Desi went out and made this wonderful speech [about how the only 'red' thing about Lucy was her hair].”

Dann Cahn – editor

“And then the next big dramatic thing that hit the newspapers was Lucy went to the hospital for a Cesarean birth on a Monday morning and that night they gave birth  to a little boy on the show. It had been decided weeks earlier that whatever Lucy had, and remember there was no testing, that the baby’s birth is going to be the same sex.”

Leonard Nimoy – actor

“I met her once or twice.  She never came on the set but Bill [Shatner] and I were having lunch one day in the commissary and she came by the table graciously and said, “hi guys, you’re doing great work. Keep it up, thanks.” and left.  I think the next time we met her was when we were asked to come to a reception for Charlie Bluhdorn who was head of Gulf and Western, who had just bought the studio from her in 1967.  Some of us were asked to come and say hello to him and welcome him, and Lucy was there.”

Doris Singleton – Actress, “Carolyn Appleby” on I Love Lucy

“We were going to a party at writer Seaman Jacobs’ house and everybody was there. The doorbell rang and it was Lucy.  I was very surprised to see her because nobody said that she was coming.  Lucy comes in and  says, “OK, where’s the game?”  Like, in “Guys and Dolls.”  I said, “What game?” She said, “June told me that it was a backgammon game.”  She was crazy, crazy about backgammon. That’s what Lucy did all the time when she was not on the set.  She’d go to her room and play backgammon with one of her stand-ins or friends — she had a group that were always on the show.”

To see more Archive interviewees discussing the legacy of Lucille Ball, visit her curated TV Legend page here.

To see more about I Love Lucy, click here.

To see how Lucy’s birthday is being celebrated on the East and West Coasts, see the links below:

The Hollywood Museum is celebrates Lucy’s 100th

The Lucy Desi Center in Jamestown, NY presents Lucy Fest in honor of Lucy’s birthday

“I Love Lucy” writer Madelyn Pugh Davis dies at 90

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Sad news, we’ve learned that legendary comedy writer Madelyn Pugh Davis died on April 20th at the age of 90. Best known for her work on Lucille Ball’s shows including I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, and Life with Lucy, she also wrote for Steve Allen, The Mothers-In-Law, Alice and more. The Archive of American Television interviewed Madelyn and her lifelong writing partner Bob Carroll, Jr. in 1997.

Madelyn Pugh Davis on being one of the first female writers hired at CBS radio as a junior writer

I wouldn’t have had any of the jobs I had, if it hadn’t been for World War II, because usually men were drafted, went in the Army and women were not working that much then, so  that was the reason, I think, I got these jobs.  Someone had to leave. I was the second woman hired at CBS, on staff.  Mostly they only had men writers. They told me that they  would make me a senior writer, they had me doing research for some show that they  said, “well, you’ll do that for a few months and then, then we’ll make you a senior writer.” So it was kind of a beginning.  They didn’t even have an office for me and I worked in the supply closet with a writer named Jack Newman who was hired at the same time.

Bob Carroll, Jr. & Madelyn Pugh Davis on the development of I Love Lucy

Madelyn:     As a television show, at first we weren’t asked about it, they had other people I, think.  And NBC was interested.  Actually they wanted her to go to television with My Favorite Husband  with Richard Denning.

Bob:    Right, yeah, she said no, I want to do it with my husband.

Madelyn:    But they didn’t want to do that. They said, we don’t believe that you’re really, you’re married to a Cuban band eader.   And she said, well, I am married to him! She held out.  So, uh, they asked us to a write a  Vaudeville act, a stage act for them, where Desi was going on the road and then she would interrupt and try to get into the act and come up from the back of the audience and all. Bob and I wrote that and hey went on the road with it and  I think they played quite a few places and then they had network people look at it.

Bob: They had the great cello bit.

Madelyn:  And of course, they worked beautifully together and they could see that he was funny and they said okay.  So the they asked Jess [Oppenheimer] and Bob and me to do the I Love Lucy pilot.

Bob Carroll, Jr. & Madelyn Pugh Davis on their writing partnership

Bob:  I didn’t really like to work.

Madelyn:  We’ve been writing together, it’ll be 50 years, and he wasn’t sure it would work out.

Bob:  She has all the discipline. I never typed a script in the entire fifty years.  A final script ever — I couldn’t type.  I walk, I’m a pacer. I pace back and forth.

Madelyn:  We found that we just wrote well together. We have the same sense of humor.  And sometimes if you’re reading a script around a table, we would put the same word or the same joke, that it needed that word. We never had to argue about what was funny.  We just argued about the temperature of the room!

Madelyn Pugh Davis on the power of the rerun

In studio A at CBS and then a kinescope was shown to people who were going to buy I Love Lucy.  And that was the way you did things in those days.  So doing it on film and no one knew there were ever going to be reruns. I remember Desi Arnaz or somebody saying, “why would anybody look at it if they’d already seen it?”  No one thought it should be permanent and there was so many shows done live in those days, I think Burns And Allen were live in the early days, every two weeks, so it was, it was a wheel. It all turned out rather well.

Interview clip: Bob Carroll, Jr. & Madelyn Pugh Davis on the legacy of I Love Lucy

Full Interview Description:

Bob Carroll, Jr. (1918-2007) and writing partner Madelyn Pugh Davis, were interviewed for three hours in Los Angeles, CA. Davis and Carroll speak of their 50-year writing relationship that included writing for Steve Allen, as well as the decades of working with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and the classic I Love Lucy show.  The interview was conducted by Tom Gilbert on November 24, 1997.

As a footnote, after Bob Carroll, Jr.’s passing in early 2007, Madelyn sent a letter to us about this interview. “I felt Tom Gilbert did an excellent job of interviewing us. It is probably the best and most extensive interview Bob and I ever had….”  [K.H.]

Barbara Eden’s “Jeannie Out of the Bottle” Memoir Released

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Dreaming of Jeannie by Barbara Eden

Congratulations to Archive interviewee Barbara Eden — the “I Dream of Jeannie” star’s long-awaited memoir “Jeannie Out of the Bottle” was released! To celebrate, here are some fun highlights from her Archive of American Television interview.

On developing an interest in performing:

On appearing on “I Love Lucy”:

On being cast on “I Dream of Jeannie”:

On the character of “Jeannie”:

On the “Jeannie” belly-button controversy:

On starring in “Harper Valley P.T.A.”:

“I Love Lucy” Writer Madelyn Pugh Davis is 90

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Happy Birthday to Archive Interviewee Madelyn Pugh Davis! Born March 15, 921, Madelyn became known in the 1950s for her work writing on the I Love Lucy television series, alongside partner Bob Carroll. Watch the complete interview with Bob and Madelyn here.

About This Interview

Bob Carroll, Jr. (1918-2007) and writing partner Madelyn Pugh Davis, were interviewed for three hours in Los Angeles, CA. Davis and Carroll speak of their 50-year writing relationship that included writing for Steve Allen, as well as the decades of working with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and the classic I Love Lucy show.

When asked about working together, Madelyn said “We never had to argue about what was funny.  We just argued about the temperature of the room.”

The interview was conducted by Tom Gilbert on November 24, 1997.

Archive Interviewee Edie Adams has Died

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

We’re sad to report that legendary stage, screen and television performer Edie Adams died Wednesday at the age of 81. She was interviewed by the Archive of American Television in 1999. We last saw her in June of 2007 when she helped us celebrate the Archive’s 10th Anniversary. Edie truly supported our mission and was very active in making sure that Ernie Kovacs’ legacy as a television pioneer were properly preserved. She will be missed.

Here’s her full obituary from the CBS News.

Watch her full Archive of American Television interview here.

Below is one of her famous commercials as the Muriel Cigar girl.

Interview description:
Edie Adams was interviewed for four-and-a-half hours in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Adams chronicled her long and varied career as a singer and actress. She talked about her appearances as a featured singer with the late Ernie Kovacs, on Ernie in Kovacsland which led to her collaboration with him on his groundbreaking NBC shows (produced out of Philadelphia’s NBC affiliate WPTZ): 3 to Get Ready and Kovacs in the Corner as well as (New York shows) Kovacs Unlimited and the various incarnations of The Ernie Kovacs Show. She talked about her Broadway roles in such shows as “Wonderful Town” and “L’il Abner” (for which she won a Tony Award) as well as her appearance as the fairy godmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first musical for television, Cinderella. She also discussed her work in such feature films as Billy Wilder’s The Apartment and Stanley Kramer’s It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. She recalled her many other television appearances such as those on Jack Paar’s morning show as well as commercials for Muriel cigars. She spoke about Ernie Kovacs’ tragic death and her continued work in television and films, including her Emmy-nominated television show Here’s Edie. She also described her work in preserving Kovacs’s legend — archiving kinescopes and tapes of his programs for future generations. The interview was conducted by Henry Colman on March 11, 1999.