These fun facts might surprise you!
1) The name ‘Fred’ Mertz was given to the character played by William Frawley as a nod to Lucille Ball’s real life brother, Fred.
2) ‘I Love Lucy’ began as a radio show called ‘My Favorite Husband’ featuring Lucille Ball and Richard Denning as her spouse. When the show transitioned to early television, Ball insisted that her husband, Desi Arnaz, be given the role. Denning was out and Arnaz was in.
3) Unsure whether she should take the plunge from movies to television, Ball had a dream about her good friend comedienne Carole Lombard who had perished in a plane crash almost a decade earlier. Lombard told Ball to take a chance and so she did.
4) When selling the show to Philip Morris, Ball and Arnaz were told that Desi’s orchestra could only be used when they were an important part of the plot. Arnaz was concerned about his ‘boys’ and explained that they had to be paid on a weekly basis whether they were in front of the camera or not. The sponsors agreed.
5) As part of their negotiations with CBS, Arnaz asked if he and Lucy could own 100% of the shows. Much to their surprise, the network agreed.
6) Arnaz’s Cuban accent always got a laugh—whether he meant to or not. Someone once hung a sign on his dressing room door that read: “English broken here.”
7) As CBS prepared for the show’s second season, the network provided Arnaz with a new budget. Going over the numbers, the business-savvy actor noticed an extra million dollars. The very next day, he took the paperwork back to CBS informing them of their error. He was told to stick to his acting and leave the numbers to them. He immediately spread out the paperwork and pointed out the problem. The CBS brass suddenly had a newfound respect for the Cuban bandleader.
8) Lucy and Desi tried to keep her second pregnancy under wraps for as long as they could. However, when Louella Parsons found out about it, she broke the news in her gossip column and at the same time apologized to the couple for her betrayal. She then went on to explain that keeping such important news from her readers would be a disservice to them.
9) William Frawley was a huge baseball fan and he had a clause in his contract stipulating that if his favorite team, The New York Yankees, made it to the World Series, he would be allowed time off to attend the games. It happened four times during the show’s six-year run causing Frawley to be written out of the script more than once.
10) In 1953, Ethel Mertz was given a middle name of 'Louise'; 3 months later, the writers rechristened her Ethel 'Roberta' (Vance's real middle name, by the way); one year later, she was referred to as Ethel 'Mae'. I guess they couldn't make up their mind, but if anyone is checking, Fred's middle name was 'Hobart'--and that never changed.