If you didn’t know this, the story of I Love Lucy almost didn’t make it on the air, because the studio didn’t find a sponsor for the show. Eventually, tobacco giant Philip Morris agreed to finance the sitcom in the 12th hour. In exchange for that, each episode had to feature some of the characters smoking heavily – in addition to that, the brand’s name was supposed to be mentioned each time it was plausible.
There was a problem, however, since Lucille Ball didn’t like Philip Morris as much as she liked Chesterfield. So, in order to solve this problem, she had the staff fill the Philip Morris packs with Chesterfield cigarettes.
Another interesting behind the scenes story from I Love Lucy is the one concerning the Lucy and Harpo Marx episode (28th one from the 4th season). Lucille Ball was a perfectionist and so she wanted to repeat a scene until it became, well, perfect. However, this wasn’t the style of Harpo Marx, who was known for his never the same way twice routine.
Eventually they worked it out after a couple of shoots. However, by the time they finished shooting there was no audience left. The reason why Harpo Marx didn’t want to repeat a scene was that he has been doing the same thing for 35 years.
Too understand how perfectionist Lucille Ball was, we can mention another episode, the fan-favorite Lucy Does a TV Commercial (which isn’t at all an episode Lucille loved). While Lucille was a comedic genius, she didn’t leave anything to chance – that is why she didn’t improvise and she had every slurred word written beforehand.
So everything that you hear while she is drunk is actually a pre-written line she had to memorize. Nonetheless, a back-up plan was made, with the lines written in front of the podium.
A bit of even more interesting trivia information is that the plot for this particular episode of I Love Lucy is based on real life events. As it is known, Lucy is supposed to make a commercial about Vitameatavegamin – a made-up health-tonic. However, she didn’t know that this Vitameatavegamin contains alcohol, so the comedy followed when she became inebriated.
It appears that there were quite a few scandals during the ‘50’s concerning Geritol, which was also a health tonic for the elderly people. As art imitates life, it was later on concluded that Geritol contained 12% alcohol.
Quite the story, isn’t it?