Apropos of yesterdays animated TV credit sequences, I went searching for the original ‘I Love Lucy’ animated opening credits. I found it–but, as is often the case with YouTube, I found something even more interesting on my way. It turns out that a pilot episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ was shot but bears only a passing resemblance to the show that it eventually became. The Ricardos are named the ‘Lopez’s’ and they live in a strange mid-century bohemian loft somewhere in midtown Manhattan. They’re much less middle-class than they are in the actual show, with a bottle of Amaretto casually placed by the bedside and an artists window looming over their sofa beds. The basic idea–Ricky the bandleader, Lucy the wannabe–is there but the tone is oddly different. I’m not clear on whether the pilot was rejected by Phillip Morris who wanted revisions or if it was Desi and Lucy who were dissatisfied with this first stab. Above I’ve posted the first five minutes of the show.
According to a very helpful Youtube commenter, the stylishly named ‘chickenshavebones’:
The entire episode was Kinescoped (Kinescope it’s the direct recording of a television program onto film through a camera focused on the screen of a video/”television” monitor). All copies of the original pilot were lost. In the early 1980’s, The Museum of Broadcasting began looking for the lost pilot. In 1989 the widow of Pepito The Clown (the clown that appeared on the episode of I Love Lucy who did the lion taming act with an imaginary lion but then brought out a real lion at the end of the act) read that the Museum was looking for the pilot. She remembered that her husband was given a copy of the pilot by somebody at the studio and she decided to give it to the Museum. Lucy and Ricky were NOT originally known as the Ricardo’s in the pilot! They were The Lopez’s! Yes, their last name was Lopez in the pilot, but the studio later changed it to Ricardo so Ricky wouldn’t be confused with another famous bandleader of the time who’s name was Vincent Lopez! Think about that. Today, Lucy and Ricky would be known as the Lopez’s! Originally, in the opening image of the city as seen in this video, there was text written at the top of the image. They’re the same words that you hear the narrator speaking in this video. When the pilot was re-aired in April 30, 1990 (and in the DVD release) that text was cropped out because it showed their names as “Lucy and Ricky Lopez”. It was decided that there was no need to divulge to the public that Lopez was originally Lucy and Ricky’s last name since they’re famously known as The Ricardo’s. Narration was used for the intro in the pilot but the story goes that bits were inaudible in Pepito The Clowns copy due to damage to the audio so they were able to contract the same man who originally did the intro in the pilot (Bob Lemond who was now 76 years old in 1989) to redo the first few moments of the narration in the film then you can hear that the audio switches back to his original recorded narration that he did 39 years earlier. In the 1989 redo, he states Lucy’s and Ricky’s last name as Ricardo along with a little more narration before you can hear the switch back to the original audio of the rest of the introduction. Originally, he would’ve have stated it as Lopez since that’s how his script was written. Bob Lemond also did the narration/introductions/commercials for Lucille Ball’s radio show she did before I Love Lucy. 30 million people tuned in to watch the lost pilot in 1990.