Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper arrives at the Ricardos' Connecticut home to do a story on Ricky's success. When she asks how Ricky and Lucy first met, they tell the story -- and we, the audience, see it in flashback... We are transported back nearly twenty years to the time Lucy McGillicuddy and her friend Susie MacNamara took a vacation cruise to Havana. Both are single, and both hope to meet the man of their dreams.
On board ship, they encounter Fred and Ethel Mertz, enjoying a delayed honeymoon. They also meet singer Rudy Vallee, who appears to be the only available bachelor on the ship. Once the gang arrives in Cuba, however, Lucy and Susie are smitten by a couple of local men who run a sight-seeing service -- Ricky Ricardo and his friend Carlos Garcia. For Ricky and Lucy, it's love at first sight.
"Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana," the first Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show special, had its premiere on CBS Television 46 years ago this week, on Wednesday, November 6, 1957. The program was 75 minutes in length -- that's right, 75! The network aired it from 9PM to 10:15, thanks to a special arrangement Desi Arnaz had made with United States Steel, which sponsored the program that normally aired in the 10-11PM slot. (US Steel's program that night was only 45 minutes long.)
Guest-starring with the I Love Lucy regulars were Ann Sothern, Hedda Hopper, Rudy Vallee, and Cesar Romero (as Carlos). Ann recreated the Susie MacNamara character she had played for four seasons on her just-ending Private Secretary series.
Because of the special's unusual length, to date it has never been repeated "en toto." An edited 60-minute version, often called "Lucy Goes to Havana," was included with the other Lucy-Desi specials in The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour seen on CBS in the 1960s and in syndication ever since.
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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.
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