Lucy writers Bob Carroll, Madelyn (Pugh Martin) Davis, Bob Weiskopf, and Bob Schiller loved to base their weekly Lucy adventures on real-life situations... Among the things clamoring for America's attention back in 1963 was the release of 20th Century-Fox's multi-million-dollar motion picture, "Cleopatra." It was only a matter of time before Carroll & Company would have the Redhead play the Queen of the Nile.
Forty years ago this week, on Monday, September 30, 1963, CBS launched the second season of The Lucy Show, with Lucy Carmichael and her Danfield Volunteer Women's Fire Department deciding to raise funds for new equipment by staging a play. When someone suggests "Antony and Cleopatra," Lucy, of course, thinks she ought to be the star -- leaving pal Vivian with the role of Marc Antony!
"Lucy Plays Cleopatra" is remembered today as the first Lucy show to have had the potential of airing in color. Huh? How's that again?
The first season of The Lucy Show was filmed and aired in black-and-white, which was the norm in those days. Very few programs were televised in color, and 99-percent of those were on NBC. Desilu executives, however, realized that color was the wave of the future. When Lucy took over as President of the studio, they convinced her that her programs would be more valuable in years to come if they were to be filmed in color, even though CBS still intended to broadcast them in black-and-white. Lucy agreed, and for two years the studio filmed her shows in color with no one but insiders seeing the results.
Finally, in 1965, CBS started to colorcast The Lucy Show, and when the series went into reruns in 1968, everyone was finally able to see "Lucy Plays Cleopatra" and the rest of the 1963-65 episodes as they were originally meant to be seen!
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