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Life with Lucy

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Country of origin
United States

First episode date
20 September 1986

Number of seasons


Original language(s)

Final episode date
15 November 1986

Number of episodes
14 (5 unaired)

Life with Lucy Do you remember Lucille Ball39s 39Life with Lucy39

Lucille BallGale GordonAnn DusenberryLarry AndersonJenny LewisPhilip J. Amelio IIDonovan Scott

Theme music composer
Martin SilvestriJeremy StoneJoel Higgins

American Broadcasting Company

The Lucy–Desi Comedy, Here's Lucy, The Lucy Show, AES Hudson Street, Jak to chodí u hrochu

Life with Lucy is an American sitcom starring Lucille Ball that aired for one season on ABC from September 20 to November 15, 1986. Only 8 out of the 13 episodes produced were aired before ABC cancelled the series. Unlike Ball's previous sitcoms, Life with Lucy was critically panned and a ratings flop. In 2002, TV Guide named Life with Lucy the twenty-sixth worst TV series of all time.



Life with Lucy Life with Lucy Wikipedia

Ball played a widowed grandmother who had inherited her husband's half-interest in a hardware store in South Pasadena, California, the other half being owned by his partner, widower Curtis McGibbon (played by Gale Gordon). Lucy's character insisted on "helping" in the store, even though when her husband was alive she had taken no part in the business and hence knew nothing about it. The unlikely partners were also in-laws, her daughter being married to his son, and all of them, along with their young grandchildren, lived together.

Creative control and production

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During the 1984-85 television season, NBC had experienced a huge success with its Bill Cosby comeback vehicle The Cosby Show and ABC, looking to stage a similar resurgence for an old sitcom star and to boost Saturday night ratings, decided to try for the greatest sitcom star of all time- then 75-year-old four-time Emmy award winner and cultural icon Lucille Ball. TV production giant Aaron Spelling had been talking with Ball and her second husband Gary Morton since 1979 about possibly doing another series. Ball was hesitant, but was given complete control over the series.

Life with Lucy Exonerating Ms Ball A Look at LIFE WITH LUCY THAT39S ENTERTAINMENT

ABC offered Ball the writers from the huge hit M*A*S*M*A*S*H, but Ball insisted on her longtime writers Bob Carrol Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Martin Davis, who had been writing for Ball since her 1947 radio show My Favorite Husband. They had written over 500 television and radio episodes for Ball, plus the occasional TV special and feature film. Ball called in crew members who had been working for her since the days of I Love Lucy. The most notable around the set was sound man Cam McCulloch, who had worked on I Love Lucy starting with its third season and by 1986 was 77 years old and quite hard of hearing. Ball also insisted on coaxing four-time Emmy nominee and sitcom veteran Gale Gordon out of Palm Springs retirement. Gordon had worked with Ball on Jack Haley's radio show and more consistently on My Favorite Husband. He was the first choice for the character of Fred Mertz and had guest starred on I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour before becoming a main cast member on The Lucy Show in its second season and acting on all six seasons of Here's Lucy.

Gordon was only drawn to the show with the promise of a full season's pay for all 22 episodes regardless of whether the show lasted. According to cast and crew members, the then 80-year-old Gale Gordon never once flubbed a line on the set during the 13-episode duration. Ball was allegedly paid $100,000 an episode and husband Gary Morton, carrying the title of Executive Producer, negotiated for $150,000 an episode. The pilot was sent through without network interference or even test screenings. Many people involved believed the show would be a ratings smash, award winner, and run for many years just as Ball had proven for nearly 25 years in the past.

The show's theme song was performed by Eydie Gorme. Apparently, an alternate theme was written by Ball's daughter, Lucie Arnaz, with Cy Coleman.

Ratings and cancellation

Fourteen episodes were written, thirteen filmed, but only eight aired. On the day of the last filmed (but unaired) episode, producer Aaron Spelling learned of the show's cancellation by ABC; he decided to tell Ball's husband Gary Morton, who decided not to reveal the news to her until after filming had ended. The last episode to be aired, "Mother of the Bride", featured Audrey Meadows, who was offered to be cast as a regular to give the show a new direction and Lucille's character a comic foil and partner, similar to the role previously played by Vivian Vance in Lucy's previous series. (This was the only 'Lucy' sitcom in which Vance, who had died in 1979, never appeared.) Meadows turned down the offer.

Life With Lucy's premiere episode on September 20 made the Nielsen's Top 25 (#23 for the week) for its week; however, subsequent episodes dropped steadily in viewership; Life With Lucy went against NBC's The Facts of Life in the same Saturday night lead-off timeslot and never gained ground against it. It ranked only 73rd out of 79 shows for the season (the seventh-lowest rated show on TV for the season), with a 9.0/16 rating/share. The short-lived show was never syndicated, nor was it ever released on home video; it briefly aired on Nick at Nite as part of a Lucille Ball-themed marathon in 1996, but otherwise has never been rerun (although episodes can be found on YouTube, as well as the five unaired episodes and at The Paley Center For Media in New York City and Beverly Hills, California). Biographies of the actress reveal that she was reportedly devastated by the show's failure, and never again attempted another series or feature film; her subsequent interviews and other TV appearances were extremely infrequent. Lucy's last public appearance was as a presenter on the 1989 Academy Awards telecast in which she and fellow presenter, Bob Hope, were given a standing ovation. She died a month later, in April 1989. In a 1999 interview with the Archive of American Television, Aaron Spelling took full responsibility for the show's failure, blaming it on the decision to give Ball creative control.

In July 2002, TV Guide named Life With Lucy the 26th worst TV series of all time, stating, in their words, that it was, "without a doubt, the saddest entry in [their] list of bad TV shows of all time". In his book What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, author David Hofstede ranked the series at #21 on the list.


  • Lucille Ball as Lucille "Lucy" Barker
  • Gale Gordon as Curtis McGibbon
  • Ann Dusenberry as Margot "Margo" Barker McGibbon
  • Larry Anderson as Theodore "Ted" McGibbon
  • Jenny Lewis as Rebecca "Becky" McGibbon
  • Philip J. Amelio II as Kevin McGibbon
  • Donovan Scott as Leonard Stoner
  • Recurring

  • Kellie Martin as Patty
  • Brandon Call as Max
  • Tom Williams as various voice overs
  • Guest Stars

    Life with Lucy had two special guest stars- John Ritter (Lucy Makes a Hit With John Ritter) as himself and Audrey Meadows (Mother of the Bride) as Lucy's sister, Audrey.


    Life with Lucy Wikipedia

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