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Desilu Productions hired a pair of veteran troupers, William Frawley and Vivian Vance, to play the family next door and serve as foils and friends for Desi and Lucille. Academy Award-winning Karl (The Good Earth) Freund supervises the three cameras, and Director Marc Daniels (soon to be replaced by Bill Asher) gives Lucy its rattling pace. The writersJess Oppenheimer, Bill Carroll and Madalyn Pughturn out scripts that do not impose too much on the audience's credulity and are reasonably free of cliches. The writers are held in an esteem not common in TV. Lucille bombards Jess Oppenheimer with photographs flatteringly inscribed to "the Bossman," and Desi has presented him with a statuette of a baseball player and a punning tribute, "To the man behind the ball."
"Wanta Play Cards?"DesiandLucille live an unpretentious life on a five-acre ranch in the San Fernando Valley. The only Hollywood note is a kidney-shaped swimming pool, and the most recent addition to the house (a wing devoted to daughter Lucie and her nurse) cost $22,000more than the house and land cost originally. Neither Desi nor Lucille has ever been socially ambitious, and their friends are the same ones they have known for years. Both Desi's mother (now divorced from Arnaz Sr., who still lives in Miami) and Lucille's Mom live near by.
At home, Lucille, who collects stray cats and dogs, is an amateur painter ("I use oils because it's easier to correct mistakes than with water colors"), and generally considers herself a lazy, lounging homebody. She is fascinated by Desi's boundless energy.' He spends weekends fishing on his 34-foot cabin cruiser, Desilu; plays violent tennis; likes to cook elaborate dishes. Says Lucille: "Everything is fine with him all the time. Wanta play cards? Fine. Play games? Fine. go for a swim? Great." There's only one problem: "Desi is a great thermostat sneaker-upper and I'm a thermostat sneaker-downer. Cold is the one thing that isn't great with him."
Sex & Chic. Though life has grown noticeably more placid for Desi and Lucille, it promises more money than they ever made before. Desilu Productions has already branched out beyond I Love Lucy. It is filming TV commercials for Red Skelton, and is at work on a new TV series, Our.Miss Brooks, starring Eve Arden. Three of the best 30-minute Lucy shows are being put together in a package and will be experimentally released to movie theaters in the U.S. and Latin America. This year, / Love Lucy has grossed about $1,000,000, and Sponsor Philip Morris has signed a contract for 39 more shows beginning this fall. All of the old Lucy films can be sold again as new TV stations go on the air (eventually there will be 2,053 TV transmitters in the U.S., compared to today's 108).
In reaching the TV top, Lucille's telegenic good looks may be almost as important as her talent for comedy. She is sultry-voiced, sexy, and wears chic clothes with all the aplomb of a trained model and showgirl. Letters from her feminine fans show as much interest in Lucille's fashions as in her slapstick. Most successful comediennes (e.g., Imogene Coca, Fanny Brice, Beatrice Lillie) have made comic capital out of their physical appearance. Lucille belongs to a rare comic aristocracy: the clown with glamour.