#Westinghouse | papermoonloveslucy (2024)

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“The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse” ~ December 25, 1959

Produced by Bert Granet & Lucille Ball

Directed by Claudio Guzman

Written by Bob Schiller & Bob Weiskopf

Original Music by Walter Kent & Walton Farrar

Synopsis: The Desilu Playhouse is hosting a Christmas Party and the action flashes back to the group's first opening night, at which Lucy was a nervous wreck as their producer. In between songs and dance numbers, Lucy, Vivian, Bill, and Desi indulge in some classic “I Love Lucy” antics when Desi bans Lucy from backstage. Naturally, she finds a way in!

Starring...

Lucille Ball was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. She began her screen career in 1933 and was known in Hollywood as ‘Queen of the B’s’ due to her many appearances in ‘B’ movies. With Richard Denning, she starred in a radio program titled “My Favorite Husband” which eventually led to the creation of “I Love Lucy,” a television situation comedy in which she co-starred with her real-life husband, Latin bandleader Desi Arnaz. The program was phenomenally successful, allowing the couple to purchase what was once RKO Studios, re-naming it Desilu. When the show ended in 1960 (in an hour-long format known as “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour”) so did Lucy and Desi’s marriage. In 1962, hoping to keep Desilu financially solvent, Lucy returned to the sitcom format with “The Lucy Show,” which lasted six seasons. She followed that with a similar sitcom “Here’s Lucy” co-starring with her real-life children, Lucie and Desi Jr., as well as Gale Gordon, who had joined the cast of “The Lucy Show” during season two. Before her death in April 1989, Lucy made one more attempt at a sitcom with “Life With Lucy,” also with Gordon, which was not a success and was canceled after just 13 episodes. She died on April 26, 1989 at the age of 77.

Desi Arnaz was born in Cuba in 1917 and immigrated to America as a youngster. He was a musician who married Lucille Ball in 1940 after meeting her on the set of 1939’s Too Many Girls, which he had done on stage in New York. In order to keep him ‘off the road’ Ball convinced producers to cast him as her husband in a new television project based on her radio show “My Favorite Husband.” The network was convinced. In 1951, Arnaz and Ball began playing Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, roles they would be identified with for the rest of their lives. The couple had two children together, Lucie and Desi Jr. In 1960, Ball and Arnaz divorced. Desi became a producer, responsible for such hits as “The Mothers-in-Law” (1967-69). He re-married in 1963. Desi Aranz died in 1986, just a few years before Ball.

Desi also narrates the program.

Special Guest Star

Hedda Hopper was born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. She was one of Hollywood’s most powerful and influential columnists. She appeared on “I Love Lucy” and “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.” Among her hundreds of films as an actress, she did two with Lucille Ball: Bunker Bean (1936) and That’s Right – You’re Wrong (1939). Hopper was best known for her flamboyant hats. In films and television, Hopper has been portrayed by such actors as Fiona Shaw (RKO 281), Jane Alexander (Malice in Wonderland), Katherine Helmond (Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Tilda Swinton (Hail, Caesar!), Judy Davis (“Feud”), and Holly Kaplan (”Hollywood”).

With...

William Frawley was already a Hollywood veteran when he was hired by Desi Arnaz to play Fred Mertz on “I Love Lucy.” After the series concluded he joined the cast of “My Three Sons” playing Bub Casey. His final appearance before his death in March 1966 was as a stable groom on an episode of “The Lucy Show,”also featuring Ann Sothern.

Vivian Vance was born Vivian Roberta Jones in Cherryvale, Kansas in 1909, although her family quickly moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she was raised. She had extensive theatre experience, co-starring on Broadway with Ethel Merman in “Anything Goes.” She was acting in a play in Southern California when she was spotted by Desi Arnaz and hired to play Ethel Mertz, Lucy Ricardo’s neighbor and best friend. The pairing is credited with much of the success of “I Love Lucy.” Vance was convinced to join the cast of “The Lucy Show” in 1962, but stayed with the series only through season three, making occasional guest appearances afterwards. She made a total of six appearance on “Here’s Lucy.” She also joined Lucy for a TV special “Lucy Calls the President” in 1977. Vance died two years later.

Guests...

John Bromfield (Audience Member) was best known for playing the title role in the Desilu / CBS series “U.S. Marshal.” He retired from acting in 1960 to become a commercial fisherman. In 1959, he was married to Larri Thomas, who appeared in “Lucy Wants a Career” (1959) on “The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse.” He died in 2005 at age 83.

Spring Byington(below) received an Academy Award nomination for her role as Penelope Sycamore in You Can't Take It with You (1938). She appeared in twenty Broadway plays between 1924 and 1935. She made her film debut as Marmee March in 1933's Little Women. Her career included a seven-year run on radio and television as the star of “December Bride,” a Desilu / CBS production. The show followed “I Love Lucy” on the CBS Monday night line-up from Fall 1954 to Spring 1959. Desi Arnaz played himself on a 1956 episode of the series. She was a former MGM contract player who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1960s. She played the “Batman” character J. Pauline Spaghetti in 1966. Byington made an appearance on the Desilu series “The Greatest Show on Earth” in 1964. Her final roles were as Major Nelson's mother on “I Dream of Jeannie” in 1967 and as the Mother General on “The Flying Nun” in 1968. She died in 1971 at age 84.

William Demarest(above) was best remembered as Uncle Charlie on “My Three Sons,” a role created after the death of William Frawley. This is one of two times Demarest and Frawley appeared together on screen. The other was in The Farmer's Daughter (1940). He was nominated for an Academy Award in the biography, The Jolson Story (1946). Demarest did three films with Lucille Ball, including Sorrowful Jones (1949). He died in 1983 at age 91.

Lita Baron (Audience Member, below) was born Isabelita Castro and played Ricky Ricardo's former dance partner Renita Perez in “Cuban Pals” (ILL S1;E28). She also appeared in the films Club Havana (1945) and Don Ricardo Returns (1946). Despite this, Baron was actually born in Spain, not Cuba. From 1948 to 1970 she was married to actor Rory Calhoun and had appeared on his CBS / Desilu series “The Texan.”

Rory Calhoun (Audience Member, above) starred in many Westerns in the 1950s and '60s and was famous for his black cowboy hat. As a young man he spent some time in prison. Born Francis Timothy McCown, his screen name was given to him by David O. Selznick. In 1959 he was appearing in the CBS / Desilu show “The Texan” (1958-60).

Bonita Granville (Audience Member) was nominated for an Oscar in 1937 for These Three. She was also known as Nancy Drew from the serials of the 1930s. In 1959, Granville became producer of the TV series “Lassie” and this is probably the reason she is in the audience here.

Lassie is one of the most famous canine stars in Hollywood history. From 1954 to 1974, Lassie had her own series. The collie also starred in numerous films. She was mentioned on “I Love Lucy.”

George Murphy (Audience Member) started singing and dancing on Broadway at age 25. There he is credited with introducing Bob Hope to his wife Dolores. In Hollywood, he became Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President and was eventually elected US Senator. He was given a special Oscar in 1950. Murphy was in four films with Lucille Ball between 1934 and 1941. He starred with Desi Arnaz in The Navy Comes Through(1942) and Bataan (1943). In 1959, Murphy and Desi switched roles when Desi took a role in his own anthology series “The Westinghouse-Desilu Playhouse” and Murphy acted as guest host. Murphy interviewed Lucy and Desi for “MGM Parade” in February 1956. He died in 1992 at age 89.

Ann Sothern appeared in the first “Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour” “Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana” (1957) as Susie MacNamara, the same character she played on her show “Private Secretary” from 1953 to 1957. In return Lucille Ball played Lucy Ricardo on her show in 1959. Sothern appeared with Ball in five films between 1933 and 1943. On “The Lucy Show” Sothern made three appearances as Rosie, the Countess Framboise. She was nominated for an Oscar for her final screen appearance in The Whales of Augustin 1987. She is buried near her home in Sun Valley, Idaho, a place also dear to Lucy and Desi.

Danny Thomas was born Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz in 1912. His screen career began in 1947 but he was most famous for appearing on television in the long-running show “Make Room for Daddy” (1953-64), which was shot at Desilu Studios. When the series moved from ABC to CBS in 1957, Thomas and the cast starred in a rare TV cross-over with “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour” titled “Lucy Makes Room for Danny” (December 1958). In return, Lucy and Desi turned up on Thomas’s show. Fifteen years later, Lucy and Danny did yet another cross-over when Lucy Carter of “Here’s Lucy” appeared on “Make Room for Granddaddy.” In addition, Thomas also played an aging artist on a 1973 episode of “Here’s Lucy.” He died in 1999.

Bess Flowers (Audience Member, uncredited) was dubbed ‘Queen of the Extras’ in Hollywood and is credited with more than 700 film and TV appearances from 1923 to 1964. She was seen in the audience of Over the Teacups in “Ethel’s Birthday” (ILL S4;E8) and The Most Happy Fella during “Lucy’s Night in Town” (ILL S6;E22). Flowers also made five uncredited appearances on “The Lucy Show.” Not surprisingly, she was a founding member of SEG, the Screen Extras Guild (now part of SAG) in 1945. She appeared in more films with Lucille Ball than any other performer.

Cast of the Desilu Workshop...

Robert Osborne was the host on Turner Classic Movies from its inception in 1994, in large part due to his knowledge of film. It was Lucille Ball who suggested that Osborne combine his interest in classic film and training in journalism, and write instead of act. Osborne took this advice and produced "Academy Awards Illustrated" a book which then begat his years at The Hollywood Reporter. He also became the official historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He also acted in “Chain of Command” for the “Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse,” also in 1959, and also with Hugh O'Brien. Osborne died in 2017 at age 84.

Billed as “Bob Osborne” in the opening number.

Roger Perry also appeared in “Ballad of a Bad Man” for “Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse” in 1959 written by Desi Arnaz. He later starred in Desilu's “Mannix” and “Star Trek.” He died in July 2018 at age 85.

Howard Storm married fellow Playhouse cast member Marilyn Lovell in 1959. He started directing in 1975. In 1959 he appeared in the CBS series “Hennessy” and the following year made an appearance on the Desilu series “The Untouchables.”

Billed as “Howie Storm” in the opening number.

Jerry Antes graduated from Hollywood Professional School in 1944. In “Hedda Hopper's Hollywood” Lucille Ball calls him by name in their brief promotion of the Desilu Playhouse. Prior to this, Antes was a dancer who made three appearances on “The Alan Young Show” (1950).

Majel Barrett was later cast as Nurse Chapel on Desilu’s new space adventure series, “Star Trek.” During this time she had a relationship with the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry, marrying him in 1969, the same year the series was canceled. She was part of most all iterations of “Star Trek” until her death in 2008. In 1962 she played a secretary in “Lucy is Kangaroo for a Day” (TLS S1;E7).

Billed as “Majel Barret” in the opening number.

Mark Tobin appeared on the TV series “Lock-Up” in 1959. He made two appearances on the original “Star Trek,” one as a Klignon. He also played a Klignon on “Star Trek: Voyager” in 1999.

Robert Barron made the 'B' movie Tank Commandos in 1959. He only has one other credit of record, a 1964 appearance in the film The Ballad of a Gunfighter. He died in 2002 at age 78. This may be due to the misspelling of his surname.

Billed as “Rob Barran” in the opening number.

Fran Martin

Billed as “Frances Martin” in the opening number.

Gary Menteer started his career as a dancer, but later transitioned to being a writer, director, and casting agent, earning two Emmy nods for “Punky Brewster” (1984-88). He died in 2016 at age 76.

Janice Carroll started playing background characters and uncredited roles in 1951. In 1959 she appeared in the Desilu series “U.S. Marshal.” Her final screen appearance was in 1987. She died in 1993 at age 61.

Carole Cook made four appearances playing Thelma Green on “The Lucy Show,” although she also played Mrs. Valance in three episodes and a variety of other characters in eleven others. Although she was born as Mildred Cook, Ball suggested she take the name Carole, in honor of Lucy’s great friend, Carole Lombard. Cook also went on to appear in five episodes of “Here’s Lucy.”

Georgine Darcy was most famous as Miss Torso in the Hitchco*ck thriller Rear Window (1954), her screen debut. In 1958 she made a single appearance on “Make Room for Daddy” filmed by Desilu. Her final appearance was on Desilu's “Mannix” in 1971. As part of the Desilu Playhouse, she was also seen in “Hedda Hopper's Hollywood.” She died in 2004 at age 73.

Dick Kallman was next cast as a bellboy in the final “Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour” “Lucy Meets the Mustache” (1960). Kallman replaced Tommy Steele on Broadway in the musical Half a Sixpence. The actor was killed during a robbery in 1980.

Bob Travis had only one previous screen credit, appearing on“The Jack Paar Tonight Show” in September 1958.

Billed as “Bob Trevis” in the opening number.

Marilyn Lovell was a singer who appeared in Hollywood and New York. Her first husband was Desilu Playhouse member Howie Storm. Her second husband was Carol Burnett's musical director Peter Matz. In 1959 she made an appearance on CBS's “Tightrope.” She died in 2012 at age 80.

Billed as “Marilynn Lovell” in the opening number.

John O'Neill was primarily a singer, who sang the title tune of the Western series“Wagon Train” (1958-59). He appeared in Young Jesse James (1960), and is rumored to have been one of the whistlers for the theme of The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly (1966).

Billed as“Johnny O’Neill” in the opening number.

About “The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse”

After the end of the half-hour “I Love Lucy” episodes, Desi Arnaz convinced CBS to purchase an anthology series titled “Desilu Playhouse” which would feature different hour-long dramas every week along with monthly stories of the Ricardos and the Mertzes.

Thirteen hour-long “I Love Lucy” adventures were eventually made and sold to syndication as “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” ten of which were produced under Westinghouse sponsorship. The appliance company paid a then-record 12 million dollars to sponsor the show, which resulted in the cancellation of their prestigious “Studio One” anthology show. Desi Arnaz hosted the show and introduced the stories from in front of a show curtain (ostensibly at the Desilu Playhouse).

Desi, Lucy, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley, were often involved in the lengthy studio-filmed Westinghouse commercials and promotions, with Betty Furness spokesperson for the Westinghouse products.

Although it wasn't around long, the series gave birth to pilots for “The Untouchables” and “The Twilight Zone.” In fact, many entries proved to be pilots for series, not all of which were produced.

In the summer of 1958, in anticipation of the partnership, the cast of “I Love Lucy” played themselves in aun industrial film that toured the Desilu Studios, promoted “Lucy Goes to Mexico”and highlighted Westinghouse appliances. The film was never broadcast, but only made to show Westinghouse dealers and corporate clients. Years later it was colorized for video.

The Desilu Playhouse was an actual little theatre on the Desilu backlot which hosted classes for actors and put shows for agents and industry insiders.

When Lucille Ball joined RKO in the 1930s, the program was headed by Ginger Rogers' mother, Lela. Lucille wanted to continue the tradition.

About “The Desilu Revue”

#Westinghouse | papermoonloveslucy (2)

In late 1959, sixteen of the workshop actors joined the “I Love Lucy” cast in creating a holiday special. The show aired on Christmas Day 1959 and featured gossip columnist Hedda Hopper as well as many other stars then working on the Desilu lot.

Hopper also took the opportunity to shoot footage for her own TV special, “Hedda Hopper's Hollywood”, with Lucy cross-promoting her special.

This is essentially a musical variety show starring the members of the Desilu workshop, actors Desilu was grooming to appear in series’ or launch their careers in films. Among the most famous to participate were Robert Osborne (future host of Turner Classic Movies) and Carole Cook, who went on to play character roles on Lucy's sitcoms and on Broadway. Majel Barrett would become known as “the mother of Star Trek” (a Desilu series) and wife to Gene Rodenberry, the show's creator.

This program was aired only once. It is one of just a handful of holiday programs produced by Lucille Ball. A Christmas 'tag' was added to episodes of “I Love Lucy” until it was fleshed out into a full-length flashback show during season six. “The Lucy Show” produced two Christmas themed episodes, and one for New Year's Eve.

The show opens with Lucille Ball driving a golf cart through the studio streets laden down with a stack of Christmas presents and a decorated Christmas tree. Desi Arnaz narrates. Inside the Desilu Playhouse, the cast are decorating the theatre and singing “Jingle Bells.” Hedda Hopper arrives and compliments the tree:

Hedda Hopper: “It would make a stunning hat!”

Hopper is going to do a column on the 'kids' of the workshop. As Lucy dashes off to check on the catering from the commissary, Desi tells Hedda how nervous Lucy was during the opening night of their first workshop production. Flashback to opening night – and Lucy is backstage busily checking in with all of the ‘kids’ in the workshop.

Lucy has prevailed upon nearly everyone at Desilu to pitch in. William Demarest and Spring Byington are working on costumes. Lassie delivers opening night flowers to Lucy. Vivian Vance is doing make-up. William Frawley is the stage doorman.

Lucy reprimands Janice Carroll for peeking through a hole in the curtain to see her mother – it is bad luck. Lucy asks Desi to conduct the orchestra instead of their usual conductor. Ann Sothern (wearing a tiara and fur stole) takes tickets – in between signing her autograph for fans.

Danny Thomas is outside operating the huge searchlight. He tells Lucy that he started in show business as an usher in the movies with a tiny flashlight – and look at him now!

Desi enters the auditorium with his baton to start the show, but cannot find the entrance to the orchestra pit. After a few words with audience member George Murphy, he jumps the railing.

Lucy barrels through the stage door to deliver her last minute notes to the cast but is stopped by Bill Frawley, remembering Desi's orders to keep Lucy away from the cast. His behavior surprises Lucy.

Lucy: “Bill Frawley how can you be so mean?”Frawley: “Don't think of me as Bill Frawley. Think of me as Fred Mertz.” [evil laugh]

The 16 workshop members sing the opening number “We Wanna Be By You” written for the show by Walter Kent and Walton Farrar.

Next up is a jazz dance routine featuring Georgine Darcy, Jerry Antes, and Gary Menteer.

Vivian discovers Lucy trying to sneak backstage through a dressing room window. Lucy threatens to tell the audience Vivian's real age if she doesn't let her in! Bill Frawley discovers Lucy giving notes to the cast. His scowl scares Lucy into leaving the same way she came in!

Johnny O'Neill sings “Fast Freight” by Terry Gilkyson while accompanying himself on the guitar. The song was a 1958 hit for The Kingston Trio.

Dick Kallman (sporting a goatee) and Carole Cook do a beatnik number called “Hip To The Blues” by Baker, Young, Raskin, and Burger.

Marilyn Lovell sings the torch song “I Still Remember.”

During the intermission, Lucy and Vivian bury themselves in fur coats up to their eyeballs to listen to the producers’ chatter about the first act. The only thing they overhear is that Ann Sothern has lost her gloves!

Act Two opens on a busy Parisian street with an American sailor on leave. The sailor sings “I'm in Love With Paris.” An Army officer sitting at a café table sings “Alone In Gay Paris.”

In the dressing room, Bob Osborne reads a note from Lucy written on the mirror in lipstick. It references using a hand mike in “the bandstand number.” Curiously, no such song is in the show. Perhaps it was cut or (more likely) never existed.

Carole Cook sings a comedy song called “Whistler's Mother” by Mike Stewart and Shelley Mowell. In it, Cook is seen as a tableau vivant of the famous painting come to life. She steps out of the frame and transforms into a vamp.

A barbershop-style song “Summertime is Summertime” by Walter Kent and Kim Gannon is sung by four of the men in candy striped suits and straw boaters. It opens up into a gay nineties dance number. It finishes with a cake walk to “Hey Do Ya Love Me Honey” led by Roger Perry singing and playing the piano.

The program returns to the present and the Desilu Playhouse Christmas Party with Desi telling Hedda Hopper what happened on opening night. The workshop members sing “Let's Pretend It's Christmas Eve” while Lucy, Desi, Bill, Vivian, and Hedda look on adoringly.

Overcome with emotion, Vivian Vance impulsively gives Bill Frawley an affectionate kiss on the cheek and whispers “Merry Christmas” to him. Surprisingly, he returns the favor. Considering the well-known friction between the two, this is either very convincing acting or the pair had mended fences knowing their decade working together was finally drawing to an end. Vance had just nixed an “I Love Lucy” sequel about the Mertzes, despite the fact that Frawley was open to the idea.

Not a camera trick! Make-up by Fred Phillips!

#The Desilu Revue#Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse#Westinghouse#Desilu#Lucille Ball#Desi Arnaz#Hedda Hopper#Vivian Vance#willliam frawley#Christmas#Revue#1959#Robert Osborne#Carole Cook#Majel Barrett#The Desilu Playhouse#RKO#Claudio Guzman#Bert Granet#Bob Schiller#Bob Weiskopf#The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour#Hedda Hopper's Hollywood#Walter Kent#Walton Farrar#John Bromfield#Spring Byington#William Demarest#Lita Baron#Rory Calhoun

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