TV audiences were sorry to say goodbye to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz following the run of both I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, the latter coming about with the dissolution of their marriage and going their own ways in terms of life and career. That being said, there was a project in development — to the point where a script was actually written — which would have resulted in a reunion of the I Love Lucy cast.
Richard Irvin, author of the new book The Forgotten Desi and Lucy TV Projects: The Desilu Series and Specials That Might Have Been, explains, “I’m old enough to remember when I Love Lucy wasn’t in reruns. It was always one of my favorite shows when I was growing up and I was doing research on another book, when I came across a script titled Lucy Goes to Broadway. I’d heard about the special that Lucy wanted to do when she was on Broadway starring in Wildcat, but I had never seen a script for it before. I requested a copy from, I think, the Wisconsin Historical Society and was sent it. I thought it was a very funny script, it’s just too bad that she wasn’t healthy enough to do the special at that time in the early 1960s. That led me into researching other things that Desilu tried, but for whatever reason didn’t actually get produced or have a pilot that didn’t go to series. That led to the book.”
Okay, there’s a lot to unpack there. To backtrack a bit, the final episode of I Love Lucy (show 180, “The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue) aired on April 4, 1957. Then, Lucille and Desi embarked on 13 episodes making up three seasons of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, which debuted on June 28, 1957 with “Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana” and concluded on March 2, 1960 with “Lucy Meets the Mustache” (guest-starring Ernie Kovacs). The marriage ended and, again, they parted company.
In between the Comedy Hour and the arrival of The Lucy Show in 1962, the musical Wildcat starring Lucille made its Broadway debut on October 29, 1960, marking her only foray on stage. The book for the show was written by N. Richard Nash, with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and music by Cy Coleman. Details Wikipedia, “Nash had envisioned the main character of Wildy as a woman in her late 20s and was forced to rewrite the role when Lucille Ball expressed interest not only in playing it, but financing the project as well. Desilu … ultimately invested $360,000 in the show in exchange for 36 percent of the net profits, the rights to the original cast recording and television rights for musical numbers to be included in a special titled Lucy Goes to Broadway, a project that eventually was scrapped.”
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