It would be a situation comedy that would make history, live on for decades to come and innovate the way television comedies were made, and it all began on this day in 1951.
I Love Lucy premiered on the CBS network on October 15th, 1951 with the episode “The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub.” The series starred Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo, a redhead with a passion for being famous and wanting her way. She was married to her husband Ricky, a band leader played by Desi Arnaz. They were both neighbors to the Mertzes, played by Vivian Vance and William Frawley. The show was known for extremely intricate slapstick, verbal banter and off-the-wall situations.
The situation comedy was the first to be shot on film in front of a live studio audience. At the time, many programs were distributed by kinescopes, which have inferior picture quality. The show also used a three-camera format, common in many situation comedies for decades to come. The show also helped to pioneer syndication, as the repeats aired during the birth of Lucille Ball's child proved popular.
The show was a tremendous hit, leading the Nielsen ratings for four seasons, and having the all-time highest rating in Nielsen history one of those seasons. The show was and still is in repeats in syndication and cable outlets to this day, and has been completely released on DVD. Ball would go on to star in no less than three more sitcoms throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s.