I Love Lucy is one of the best-known shows of the midcentury, an enduring classic that continues to win fans through re-runs despite the fact that it first premiered over 60 years ago. Though many of his projects were more serious in tone than I Love Lucy, Orson Welles has a similarly enduring reputation of greatness, continuing to be well-known and respected as an actor, director, writer, and producer.
What happens when you put these two legends together? Orson Welles met the Ricardos in the third episode of I Love Lucy‘s sixth season, aired on October 15, 1956 (and appropriately titled “Lucy Meets Orson Welles”).
The episode kicks off with a classic Lucy-vs.-Ricky debate. Lucy wants to go to Florida to escape the cold weather, but Ricky thinks it would be too expensive, not to mention the fact that it would be difficult for him to get away from work. Lucy admits that the trip would be pricey, but simply can’t stand the idea of spending the rest of the winter chilled to her bones.
Ricky warms up to the vacation idea when Orson Welles decides to make an appearance at the club for a charity benefit, and Ricky’s agent volunteers Lucy to be the assistant in Welles’ magic act. Sure that Lucy will somehow ruin the night with her penchant for mishap, he elects to ship her off to Florida without saying a word about Welles’ club appearance.
But before she ships off, Lucy needs to do some shopping. She heads to Macy’s to check out the scuba gear… and runs into none other than Orson Welles, who tells her all about the benefit, throwing a wrench in Ricky’s plan.
I Love Lucy and Orson Welles are perhaps an unlikely pairing, but the collaboration is a successful one, with plenty of funny moments. Some of my favorites include Lucy approaching Welles while dressed up in scuba gear; Lucy raving about Welles’ Shakespearean acting (Better than Olivier!); the subplot which ends with Lucy’s high school drama teacher attending her performance; and, of course, Lucy’s hilarious “big moment” on stage. (Spoiler: Wanting to impress her theater teacher with more than just a magic trick, she recites Shakespeare while floating in the air!)
I would consider this episode a must-watch for Orson Welles fans, a fun TV appearance where he gets to show off many of his talents, including magic and Shakespearean soliloquy!