Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, we’re honoring Lucille Ball, who was born 108 years ago as of August 6th. I have a couple of exciting rarities left to share here that could make even the most seasoned Lucy fan squeal with delight, but this year, I’m playing it safe and offering something that has to be offered right now: 70 years after its first (and only) telecast: the November 24, 1949 broadcast (December 08, 1949 for L.A. and the West Coast) of the musical-comedy variety show Inside U.S.A. With Chevrolet (1949-1950, CBS), which featured that week as its star, none other than the birthday girl herself, Lucille Ball!
Based on the 1948 Broadway revue by Dietz & Schwartz (see here), the latter of whom served as the TV show’s producer and chief composer, Inside U.S.A. starred Peter Lind Hayes and his wife Mary Healy, alongside Danny Daniels, Sheila Bond, and Mary Wickes, whose inclusion in this episode marked the first intersection of the famed character actress and our glamorous redhead, who was then starring on the radio sitcom that would inspire I Love Lucy, My Favorite Husband. (This is likely Ball’s oldest extant TV appearance, by the way.)
For subscribers who comment below to alert me of their interest, I’ll send you a digital copy of this rare 70-year-old program in honor of Ball, who, after a title card, only appears in the main sketch and the final musical number, “Louisiana Hayride.” (But Broadway fans should also take note of a sketch with Wickes and Hayes that dates back to 1931’s The Band Wagon, Sheila Bond’s rendition of “Two-Faced Woman,” and the little-known “Lucky Seven” from The Second Little Show…) In the meantime, here’s a clip from the broadcast, featuring Ball with both Wickes and Hayes. Enjoy — and happy heavenly birthday, dear Lucy!
Come back next week for another Wildcard post! And stay tuned Tuesday for more King Of Queens!