Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, we’re celebrating Desi Arnaz, whose 102nd birthday anniversary is coming up this Saturday. I can’t believe we’ve never paid formal tribute to this talented man — not only does his face adorn the top of my website, but his business savvy also helped popularize the multi-camera format that this blog reveres. So, in honor of this long overdue recognition, I want to feature what was most likely the Cuban bandleader’s national TV debut, on an episode of The Ed Wynn Show (1949-1950, CBS), a live half-hour comedy variety series that was notable for originating in Los Angeles, forcing kinescopes to be sent back east — a reverse of what was then conventional. As a result, this particular entry was broadcast live in L.A. and the surrounding areas on December 24, 1949… but it wasn’t seen in most of the country, including New York, until two weeks later, on January 07, 1950.
A brief clip of this appearance made for an I Love Lucy DVD special feature, but here’s the entirety of Arnaz’s set piece. And, oh yes, you’ll notice that he’s on with Lucille Ball, the great redhead herself, who wasn’t making her TV debut but was appearing for the first time in American living rooms with her husband… something that would soon become a regular occurrence. So, enjoy this clip, and for subscribers who’d like to receive a digital copy of the full episode, please comment below and let me know of your interest!
Come back next week for another Wildcard post! And stay tuned Tuesday for more sitcom fun!