In the spring of 1963, one of Lucille Ball's favorite performers, Broadway legend Ethel Merman, agreed to star in a Desilu pilot for a new television series, Maggie Brown. When the sitcom failed to sell, Lucy asked the lady to appear on her own weekly show...
"Ethel Merman and the Boy Scout Show" started out to be a single episode of The Lucy Show, with Merman renting a house in Danfield, and Lucy attempting to talk the lady into appearing in her son's show. It was supposed to end, of course, with Miss Merman doing a number. As the writers (Bob Carroll, Madelyn Martin, Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf) worked on the script, they kept adding new and wonderful ideas until the show became a two-parter.
"Lucy Teaches Ethel Merman to Sing" aired on CBS Television on Monday, February 24, 1964, followed a week later by "Ethel Merman and the Boy Scout Show." The latter included an extended show-within-a-show, in which Ethel, Lucy, Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon trace the history of modern entertainment -- including a silent movie skit.
Cast member Jimmy Garrett recalls watching Ethel Merman sing one of her numbers. Lucy leaned over and whispered in his ear, "Watch very carefully... You'll never see anyone better."
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