Another Fine Mess...
When Lucy discovers her neighbor Miss Lewis has a secret crush on the grocer, Mr. Ritter, she does everything in her power to get them together. On Miss Lewis' behalf, Lucy invites Ritter to dinner, but the grocer mistakenly thinks the invitation is from Lucy herself -- and that it is she who is interested in him. Lucy decides to go ahead with the dinner, but to appear as "a real slob," complete with 25 children!
"Lucy Plays Cupid," episode #15 of I Love Lucy was filmed by Desilu 51 years ago this week, on Thursday, December 13, 1951. It was the first of three shows to be filmed within a two-week period (another would be filmed the following Tuesday, and a third the following Saturday), so the cast and crew could take a week off for Christmas. "Lucy Plays Cupid" would air for the first time on Monday, January 21, 1952.
Appearing in this episode were longtime character actors Edward Everett Horton and Bea Benaderet. Horton, of course, was a veteran of dozens of motion pictures -- including one of Lucy's first RKO films, "Top Hat."
Miss Benaderet, meanwhile, earned her stripes in radio: she (like her friend Gale Gordon) was one of a cadre of individuals who shuttled back and forth from studio to studio, often voicing four or five parts in a given week. She appeared for many years on The Jack Benny Program as Gertrude Gearshift, one of two telephone operators who talked about Benny between connections. She appeared regularly -- opposite Gordon -- on Lucy's radio series, My Favorite Husband, as Iris Atterbury.
Lucy had originally hoped to have Benaderet be a regular on I Love Lucy, but the busy actress was already committed to the video version of The George Burns-Gracie Allen Show, which ran until Gracie's retirement in 1958. In 1962 she created the role of Cousin Pearl on The Beverly Hillbillies. The show -- and Bea's character -- proved so popular that CBS quickly ordered a spin-off focused on Pearl herself. Those exact plans were later revised, Pearl became Kate Bradley, and the show emerged as Petticoat Junction. Bea starred in the series until her death in 1968.
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