In the late 1950s, newspaper columnist and TV variety-show host Ed Sullivan and his daughter Betty decided to assemble a book about Christmas. They collected their favorite holiday stories (including Truman Capote's delightful "A Christmas Memory") and combined them with new submissions from dozens of the Sullivan family's celebrity friends. Lucy and Desi Arnaz were asked to contribute their thoughts about their own favorite Christmas. They wrote:
"Dear Ed, Our favorite Christmas is probably no different from those of millions of other people -- it was our first Christmas together as a family. That was in 1953. Little Lucie was two and little Desi was almost a year old.
We celebrated it quietly in our old home in the San Fernando Valley. The two of us were alone with the children that morning and as we sat around our tree and watched the kids laugh and play with their gifts, we suddenly realized the full meaning of Christmas. To try and describe the experience in mere words is impossible for us, but we both agree that it was the best Christmas either of us had ever spent -- together or apart."*
That Christmas of '53 actually started almost three months earlier for the Arnazes, when the I Love Lucy cast was asked to pose for holiday-themed publicity pictures. One set of color photos was shot the evening of October 8, 1953 -- the night Desilu filmed Episode #72, "Lucy Tells the Truth." Avid fans will note that Lucy, Desi and Bill Frawley stayed in the clothes they wore in the final "knife-throwing" scene of that show. Only Vivian Vance changed into a more Christmas-y outfit. Another set of black-and-white photos were also shot (exact date unknown), using a different tree and different gifts:
The Arnazes were also guests of honor that year in the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, held on the Sunday of Thanksgiving Weekend to kick off the Yuletide season.
Lucy, Desi and Lucie rode down Hollywood Boulevard in Santa's sleigh, then joined TV host Jack Bailey for the lighting of Hollywood's official Christmas tree.
It was, indeed, a Christmas to remember!
Back to Main Page. *"Christmas with Ed Sullivan," Written and compiled by Ed Sullivan with Betty Sullivan Precht;
© 1959 by Ed Sullivan. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
Original material © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 Lucyfan Enterprises.
I Love Lucy is copyrighted by and a registered trademark of CBS Worldwide, Inc.
Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used by permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
Licensing by Unforgettable Licensing, Northbrook, Illinois.