Refrigerator magnet pictures some of the world's best known friends: Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Fred and Ethal Mertz.
I Love Lucy debuted in the fall of 1951 and continued running for nine years. Shot in 35mm in front of a studio audience, the program won five Emmy Awards and in a 2012 survey conducted by ABC and People Magazine, respondants name it the Best TV Show of All Time. In four of six seasons it was the most watched TV show in America. It is still syndicated around the world.
In terms of public awareness, the character of Lucy Ricardo might be the best known fictional character in history. Her obsession with becoming a star and creativity in getting into and out of predicaments established plot forumulas that have been imitated ever since. The accomplishment of Lucille Ball (1911-1989) as a business person and producer in the entertainment industry were no less legendary than those as a performer.
Desi Arnez (1917-1986) came from a wealthy and influential Cuban family forced to flee to America following the 1933 Cuban revolution. Upon their arrival in America they were nearly penniless but one of Desi's first goals was to learn English so that he could persue a career in acting. His first roles were on Broadway. He met Lucile Ball while the pair were appearing in the 1940 musical, Too Many Girls. They married later that year. In 1951 Lucille Ball took her radio program, My Favorite Husband, to television and insisted that Desi play the role of Ricky. Though alcoholism and infidelity ended Lucille and Desi's marriage, they remained friends for the rest of their lives.
Vivian Vance (1909-1979) appeared as a chorus girl and in a few supporting roles prior to joining the Lucy cast.
William Frawley (1887-1966) appeared in vaudeville and over 100 movies before he became Ethal's skinflint husband and Lucy Ricardo's landlord. In real life he was 22 years older than Ethel
The story goes that Frawley and Vance didn't like one another in real life, enough that Vance turned down an opportunity to appear in a spin-off series rather than work again with Frawley. Frawley was cast in My Three Sons but ill health forced his retirement and replacement by "Uncle Charlie."