ENCORE PRESENTATION: 70 Years With The Ricardos

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week last year, we were celebrating the 70th anniversary of I Love Lucy, and I offered readers here the chance to experience the opening telecast as many Americans would have seen it, on October 15, 1951 — not only with all the original commercials, but also on a period set: my very own 1949 Admiral. However, I was actually at an event during the live stream and couldn’t watch it myself, so I thought it would be fun this year to do an Encore Presentation… for I Love Lucy‘s 71st anniversary!

In celebration of this milestone, I’m offering a chance AGAIN to see the first aired episode of I Love Lucy, “The Girls Want To Go To A Nightclub,” as it was on that debut night 71 years ago. I don’t only mean with the original openings, closings, and commercials intact, but also on a period-appropriate set — specifically, a beautifully restored Admiral television (that’s restored, not retrofitted — meaning, it’s using the internal mechanism, with picture and sound tubes!), made out of Bakelite and released as model 20×122 in September 1949, when less than ten percent of American households had a TV… Now, Admiral made approximately 400,000 TV sets in 1949, of which I estimate — conservatively — this model, with its compact 10-inch screen, constituted 50,000. To break down some more numbers, there were approximately 13 million households with TV sets when Lucy premiered in mid-October 1951, and with this initial broadcast scoring a 38.7 rating, that means about five million homes were watching.

So, with approximately 50,000 of those 13 million homes owning this particular model, if 38.7% of them were watching, then about 19,400 households saw this episode of I Love Lucy on October 15, 1951 via their own 20×122 Admiral. Now, YOU can count yourself among them. Well, on October 15 (at 9:00 PM EDT), that is, when I re-premiere the video live on YouTube at this link. In the meantime, here’s a clip of what you can expect. Enjoy — and stay tuned!



Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned Monday for another musical rarity!