55 years ago: "Little Ricky" was born to Lucy & Ricky Ricardo

55 years ago, on January 19, 1953, the I Love Lucy episode “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” first aired. In this classic episode, Lucy gives birth to “Little Ricky.” The airdate was chosen to coincide with Lucille Ball’s real-life scheduled Caesarean delivery of her own child, Desi Arnaz, Jr. Not surprisingly, the episode was viewed by more people than any other television program up to that date — 68% (some sources say it was as high as 75%) of all American TV sets were tuned to CBS. A few months later, with the noteworthiness of the birth still in full-swing, Desi Arnaz, Jr. was featured on the very first cover of TV Guide (pictured at right).

From I Love Lucy editor Dann Cahn’s Archive interview:

Lucy went to the hospital for a [scheduled] Caesarean birth on a Monday morning and that night she gave birth to a little boy on the show. The child being a boy had been decided weeks earlier, remember, there was no ultrasound testing — they didn’t know if it’s twins, whether it’s a boy or a girl, or two boys or whatever. They didn’t have that in the fifties. So we went ahead and producer Jess {Oppenheimer] and writers Bob [Carroll] and Madeline [Pugh Davis] wrote that they’d have a little boy, and Lucy and Desi agreed. Sure enough, Lucy went to the hospital and in the morning she had a little boy [Desi Arnaz, Jr.], and on the television tube, little Ricky was born. That was a very big event.

Dann Cahn’s Full Interview Description:
Mr. Cahn talked about starting out as an assistant editor on motion pictures. His first job in television came in 1949, on Lucky Strike Showtime. Mr. Cahn also discussed working at Desilu on I Love Lucy, Our Miss Brooks, Where’s Raymond, The Untouchables, and The Loretta Young Show. He also discussed editing other television shows including Leave it to Beaver, The Beverly Hillbillies, Police Woman, and Remington Steele. He also talked about working at Glenn Larson Productions as head of Post Production, where he worked on The Fall Guy, Cover Up, and The Automan.

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