Lucille Ball and Her TV Sitcoms after I Love Lucy

by Guy Belleranti
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Without a doubt I Love Lucy is one of the true sitcom classics of television. Reruns of the program will probably play on television forever.

Lucille Ball did, however, star in two later sitcoms.

The first was The Lucy Show. This series ran from 1962 to 1968. Ball's own Desilu Productions created and produced the show, and her ex-husband Desi actually produced an episode in the fist season. Ball's second husband, Gary Morton, produced a number of the other episodes during the series run.

In the series Lucille Ball played Lucy Carmichael, a widow. As the series began her character lived in upstate New York with a son and daughter. Also living with the family was Lucy's divorced friend Vivian Bagley and her own son. Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy) played Bagley.

After the first season Gale Gordon joined the series as the skinflint curmudgeon banker Theodore J. Mooney. Mooney managed the trust fund left to Lucy by her late husband.

With the 1965 season Vance left the program as a regular and the Lucy Carmichael character moved to California. Mooney was also re-situated in California, and Lucy went to work for him as his secretary. Lucy also made a new friend, Mary Jane Lewis (played by Mary Jane Croft). In addition, Vivian Vance made a several guest appearances with her Vivian Bagley character coming to visit a few times.

Also appearing on the program during these final years of the series were a number of famous personalities, often as themselves. Included among these guests were Dean Martin, George Burns, Jack Benny, Joan Crawford, Ethel Merman and Milton Berle.

After The Lucy Show Ball starred in another sitcom, this one titled Here's Lucy.

This time Ball played Lucy Carter. Once again she was a widow with two children, but this time her children were played by Ball's real life children Desi Arnaz Jr. (as Craig Carter) and Lucie Arnaz (as Kim Carter).

Mary Jane Croft again appeared as Lucy's best friend, her character having the same Mary Jane Lewis name as she'd had on The Lucy Show. And Gale Gordon was again the male lead, this time playing Lucy's snobbish brother-in-law and employer Harrison "Harry" Carter, owner of an employment agency.

Ball had recently sold Desilu Productions and started up Lucille Ball Productions, and this was the series' production company. Ball's husband, Gary Morton, was Executive Producer.

Vivian Vance made a number of guest appearances on Here's Lucy, this time as a character named Vivian Jones.

Many other big names also appeared. Among them were Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Jack Benny, Wayne Newton, Shelly Winters, Eva Gabor, George Burns, Carol Burnett, Liberace, Ann-Margret, Sammy Davis, Jr, Vincent Price, Ginger Rogers and Art Linkletter.

While neither The Lucy Show nor Here's Lucy came close to the quality of I Love Lucy they did have their funny moments. Perhaps it's just a craving for nostalgia, but it often seemed that the best episodes were those pairing Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance.

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