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MGM Home Entertainment. (DVD)
Lucille Ball stars with Henry Fonda and Van Johnson in a film based on the true story of a widow (Lucy) with 8 children who marries a widower (Fonda) with 10. Also in the cast are Tom Bosley, Tim Matthieson, Tracy Nelson (at age 4!) and Morgan Brittany (billed as Suzanne Cupito).
At one of the Loving Lucy Conventions, writer Bob Carroll recalled that throughout Lucy's television career, he and the other writers were always scanning the newspapers looking for interesting real-life situations that might make good material for one of Lucy's programs. In 1960, Bob's wife at the time brought to his attention a newspaper story about the Beardsleys, a Northern California family that through marriage had 19 children. Mrs. Carroll thought Lucy might be interested. Bob bounced the idea off Desi Arnaz, who agreed and promptly secured the film rights to the story. Bob and his partner Madelyn Pugh began outlining ideas for a possible movie.
Lucy, meanwhile, went to New York to do "Wildcat" on Broadway. When "Wildcat" closed six months later, CBS encouraged Lucy to return to television in a new series -- and work on what was then called "The Beardsley Story" was put on a back burner.
In 1965, Mrs. Beardsley -- Helen North Beardsley, to be precise -- wrote the story of her family, and it was published by Random House as "Who Gets the Drumstick?" Good Housekeeping magazine also printed an excerpt.
Lucy never lost interest in the project, and in 1967 decided to get the picture made once and for all. Desilu Productions shared financing with United Artists; Robert F. Blumofe came on board as producer; and Mel Shavelson was signed to direct.
When the laser disc of this movie was released in 1994, our video expert Stuart Shostak reviewed it and the film in our club journal. He said, "Now all these years later, the family Beardsley is still fun to watch... For Lucy fans, her famous "drunk" scene, in which the Beardsley kids spike her drink when she comes to dinner, is an absolute classic. For my money, the scene ranks up there with 'Lucy Does a TV Commercial.' As a kid, I always enjoyed the scene in which the family prepares school lunches -- for 18 kids! The scene holds up well today, and is still one of my favorites..."
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Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used with permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
Licensing by Unforgettable Licensing, Northbrook, Illinois.