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A Visual Guide to All 37 Villains in the Batman TV Series

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Here they all are with a little extra Bam! Pow! Zap! for good measure. 

1. THE RIDDLER (FRANK GORSHIN)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1, 2, 11, 12, 23, 24, 31, 32), SEASON 3 (EPISODE 2) 

The quintessential (and first) Batman villain to star in the ’66 series, Frank Gorshin would end up playing The Riddler in all of the character’s appearances in the series except for a two episode span during season two when John Astin stepped into the green tights.

2. THE RIDDLER (JOHN ASTIN)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 45, 46)

Perhaps best known for playing Gomez Addams in ABC’s 1964 TV series The Addams Family, John Astin donned The Riddler’s costume for a short two-episode arc during Batman’s second season.

3. THE PENGUIN (BURGESS MEREDITH)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 3, 4, 21, 22, 33, 34), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 17, 18, 27, 28, 37, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 1, 4, 5, 20)

Burgess Meredith’s portrayal of The Penguin may be the most iconic (at least in appearance) of the entire series. With his purple top hat, monocle, and long cigarette, Meredith’s Penguin would appear in more Batman episodes (20) than any other villain. 

4. THE JOKER (CESAR ROMERO)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 5, 6, 15, 16, 25, 26), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 21, 22, 37, 38, 39, 47, 48, 57, 58), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 10, 16, 17, 24)

Second only to Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Cesar Romero appears in Batman as The Joker in 19 episodes in total. Known for his bright green hair, stark white makeup, and wide smile, Romero’s Joker would become one of the show’s most memorable villains. The actor famously refused to shave his signature mustache and you can see it under the white face paint particularly well on the high-definition transfers included on this Blu-ray box set. 

5. MR. FREEZE (GEORGE SANDERS)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 7, 8) 

Appearing as Mr. Freeze for only two episodes during the show’s first season, George Sander’s Mr. Freeze is quite low tech compared to the getups that Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach would wear during season two. When he does eventually don his signature suit, Sanders looks more like an astronaut than a villain with super freezy powers. 

6. MR. FREEZE (OTTO PREMINGER)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 19, 20)

Legendary, groundbreaking director Otto Preminger (Laura) took over the role of Mr. Freeze for two episodes during Batman’s second season and gives perhaps the most bizarre (and cool) performance of the three actors that would play the character.

7. MR. FREEZE (ELI WALLACH)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 59, 60)

Eli Wallach (who passed away in June 2014 at the age of 98) played the frigid villain for the final two episodes of season two. His Mr. Freeze, who discovers an instant ice formula, is easily the most mustache-twirlingly and villainous of the three versions. It is also likely to be the most memorable.

8. ZELDA THE GREAT (ANNE BAXTER)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 9, 10)

The great Anne Baxter (All About Eve, The Razor’s Edge, The Ten Commandments) plays Zelda the Great in a two-episode arc that includes the kidnapping of poor Aunt Harriet. This isn’t, however, the last time fans would see Baxter on the series... 

9. MAD HATTER (DAVID WAYNE)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 13, 14), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 35, 36)

Screen and stage veteran David Wayne plays The Mad Hatter in four episodes spread over two seasons of Batman. The villain, obsessed with getting his hands on Batman’s cowl, conceals a Super Instant Mesmerizer in one of his many hats in an attempt to get the job done. The Dynamic Duo, of course, has other plans. 

10. FALSE FACE (MALACHI THRONE)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 17, 18)

Malachi Throne was a staple of geek TV throughout his career: He made appearances in Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lost in Space, The Six Million Dollar Man, Babylon 5, and many more nerd-centric shows. We don’t even really get to see his recognizable face in Batman, however, as he plays a villain named False Face, who looks different nearly every time we see him.

11. CATWOMAN (JULIE NEWMAR)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 19, 20), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 3, 4, 10, 29, 30, 33, 34, 40, 41, 49, 50)

Appearing in 13 Batman episodes over the show’s first two seasons, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman tussles with The Dynamic Duo more than any other female villain in the series. Not only did her appearance on the show make her the object of many a young man's affections, but it also helped establish the general look of the character on screen for years to come.

12. CATWOMAN (EARTHA KITT)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 14, 16, 17)

Julie Newmar left some mighty big paws to fill when she didn’t return to the role of Catwoman for Batman’s third season. But, if you’re going to try to fill them, you might as well do it with a legend like Eartha Kitt. The singer, actress, and all-around dynamo donned the cat suit and purred her way into the hearts of Batman fans everywhere. I don’t know about you, but we can’t help but think of Catwoman every time we hear “Santa Baby” (which Kitt famously recorded) come on the radio during the holiday season.

Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the 1966 movie.

13. KING TUT (VICTOR BUONO)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 27, 28), SEASON 2 (7, 8, 53, 54), SEASON 3 (6, 23)

Ever the performer, Victor Buono’s over-the-top performance as Batman original villain King Tut earned him appearances in eight separate episodes over the show’s three seasons. The actor reportedly loved playing the character because it allowed him the opportunity to overact, one of the aspects of the character that makes King Tut so beloved (and if there’s ever a place to overact, the Batman series seems like a great place to do it). 

14. BOOKWORM (RODDY MCDOWALL)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 29, 30)

Between film, TV, and theater, Planet of the Apes star Roddy McDowall’s resume is a mile long—so it should come as no surprise that he was able to sneak in two episodes as an original villain named Bookworm on Batman. Committing crimes inspired by literary works, Bookworm was created for the show, but would later come to figure in the Batman comic books as well. 

15. THE ARCHER (ART CARNEY)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 1, 2)

Once you realize that The Honeymooners veteran Art Carney is playing Batman villain The Archer in the first two episodes of the show’s second season, you should immediately know that the character is mostly going to be played for laughs. Based on the classic Robin Hood character, The Archer does his own brand of robbing the rich to feed the poor along with two henchmen (and one henchwoman) cleverly named Maid Marilyn, Big John, and Crier Tuck. 

16. MINSTREL (VAN JOHNSON)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 5,6)

Minstrel only appears in two season-two Batman episodes, but he’s a tough one to forget because Van Johnson’s performance is so mesmerizing. The villain is about as milquetoast as one gets—he abhors violence and sings songs about the crimes he’s committed (or is about to commit)—but it’s still hard to get Minstrel out of your head.

17. MA PARKER (SHELLEY WINTERS)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 9, 10)

Season two villain Ma Parker is all about Shelley Winters' hilariously evil performance. Full of bravado and a pun a minute, the character is a simple country mother who has an affinity for powerful guns. Along with her three sons Pretty Boy Parker, Machine Gun Parker, and Mad Dog Parker, and one daughter named Legs Parker (that Ma really can’t stand), they give The Dynamic Duo a run for their money.

18. CLOCK KING (WALTER SLEZAK)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 11, 12)

Tony Award-winning actor Walter Slezak suits up as Clock King for two season-two episodes of Batman using an antique clock to loot a jewelry store before Batman and Robin are on his tail. Though Clock King actually has pretty deep roots in the DC Comics universe, this version is a wonder all its own with Slezak’s trademark expressions and villainy leading the way. Oh, and one really big hourglass.

19. EGGHEAD (VINCENT PRICE)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 13, 14), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 8, 9, 15)

It’s hard not to love Vincent Price’s hilariously campy portrayal of Egghead during five episodes in Batman’s run. With his signature white and yellow suit and enormous bald head, Price overacts to perfection as the extremely intelligent, eggcentric (get it?) villain. The character has a lair decked out with bacon and egg drawings on the wall and tosses laughing and tear gas eggs at his foes. Egghead is, quite possibly, the most lovable of all Batman villains.

20. CHANDELL (LIBERACE)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 15, 16)

For two episodes, the piano virtuoso plays both Chandell (the piano player) and his twin brother Harry (who, it turns out, is the real villain here), and the results are a lot of fun. If only we could have seen Liberace play more villains throughout his career, TV would have been a far more interesting place. 

21. MARSHA, QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (CAROLYN JONES)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 23, 24, 42, 43, 44)

Here’s a bit of cool trivia for you: Carolyn Jones, who plays the diamond-loving villainess Marsha, Queen of Diamonds in five season-two Batman episodes, also played Morticia Addams in ABC’s The Addams Family. We already told you about John Astin’s connection to that series, but there’s also a brief appearance by Ted Cassidy (who played Lurch in that show) during one of Batman’s iconic Batclimbs. How’s that for synergy!

22. SHAME (CLIFF ROBERTSON)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 25, 26), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 21, 22)

Clearly a spoof of the classic 1953 Western movie character Shane (from the movie of the same name), Cliff Robertson’s villain Shame appears in four Batman episodes with two different posses. In the first, he’s joined by Okie Annie (Joan Staley)—an obvious riff on Annie Oakley—and, in the second, he’s got Calamity Jan (Dina Merrill) by his side.

23. PUZZLER (MAURICE EVANS)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 31, 32)

Not to be confused with The Riddler, Maurice Evans as Puzzler also likes to keep Batman and Robin confused with his clever puzzles, word games, and tricks. He’s often seen reciting Shakespeare and has a thing for aviation. According to Wikia, Puzzler’s appearance only came about because Frank Gorshin no longer wanted to play The Riddler during season two, so the show slotted Puzzler into these two episodes instead. Of course, John Astin would play The Riddler later in season two and Gorshin would return to the green tights in season three.

24. SANDMAN (MICHAEL RENNIE)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 33, 34)

Portrayed by veteran actor Michael Rennie, Sandman’s two-episode appearance during Batman’s second season is often overshadowed by the fact that he’s working alongside the beautiful Julie Newmar as Catwoman. But fans should give the shifty Dr. Somnambular his due—the guy does have sleep powers after all!

25. COLONEL GUMM (ROGER C. CARMEL)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 51, 52)

Roger C. Carmel’s performance as Colonel Gumm is mostly remembered for the villain’s penchant for wearing pink, being surround by pink, and being obsessed with stamps. The real memorable thing about Colonel Gumm’s two-episode arc, however, is the fact that the episodes feature crossover appearances by Green Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee).

26. BLACK WIDOW (TALLULAH BANKHEAD)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 55, 56)

The most tragic thing about the great Tallulah Bankhead’s fantastic performance as season two villainess Black Widow in Batman is the fact that this would be her final on-screen role. Decked out in her signature black and red outfits, the character is unforgettable, whether it’s stealing from a bank or hanging out in her stunning spider-themed lair. 

27. SIREN (JOAN COLLINS)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 2, 3)

Siren, played by Joan Collins, begins her entrance into the world of Batman as a bit of a sidekick in The Riddler’s devious plan to take over Gotham City’s boxing game. By her second episode, however, the singing Siren makes a plan to uncover Batman’s true identity all by herself. Memorable for her beauty, luxurious outfits, and her ability to mesmerize men with her high-octave tunes, Siren makes an indelible mark on the series in the span of only two episodes. 

28. LOLA LASAGNE (ETHEL MERMAN)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 4, 5)

Despite the charming and talented Ethel Merman’s performance, Lola Lasagne is one of Batman’s least interesting and memorable villains. For one, her weapon of choice is the parasol. Secondly, she mostly plays in the shadows of one of the show’s most memorable villains, The Penguin. If it weren’t for Ethel Merman, we might not remember Lola at all.

29. LOUIE THE LILAC (MILTON BERLE)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 7, 18)

Louie the Lilac, on the other hand, makes a huge mark on Batman by being such a bright, colorful character (with such a recognizable face behind it) that two episodes are more than enough to make fans remember him. There’s a whole lot of Milton Berle himself in Louie’s demeanor, even down to the actor’s signature cigar, which is part of what makes the character (created specifically for the show) work. Louie the Lilac also went on to appear in five episodes of the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold

30. OLGA, QUEEN OF THE COSSACKS (ANNE BAXTER)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 8, 15)

Remember how we told you that Zelda the Great would not be the last you’d see of Anne Baxter in Batman? That’s because she’s the show’s only guest villain to ever return to play a different villain on the show later. This time around, she portrays Egghead’s main squeeze Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. The showy villainess mostly sits back while Egghead and his henchmen take care of business, but she’s a memorable character nonetheless. 

31. LORD MARMADUKE FFOGG (RUDY VALLEE)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 11, 12, 13)

The coolest thing about Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (who appears in three episodes as the co-villain alongside his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup) is easily his Pipe of Fog. All the venerable lord has to do is light that thing up and the room starts filling with a white, puffy smoke—perfect to conceal his getaway. Played by Rudy Vallee, the villain also wore a special cast on his foot to make people think he had the gout and was, therefore, incapable of pulling off his crimes. Clever man.

32. LADY PENELOPE PEASOUP (GLYNIS JOHNS)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 11, 12, 13)

Though Lord Marmaduke Ffogg appears to be the main villain in this three-episode arc, his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup actually comes across as more interesting and charismatic. Despite being relegated to mostly taking charge of the female criminals in their charge, Lady Penelope (played by Glynis Johns) makes her mark on the series.

33. NORA CLAVICLE (BARBARA RUSH)


SEASON 3 (EPISODE 19)

It’s almost a shame that someone as talented as Barbara Rush (It Came from Outer Space) was saddled with another of Batman’s least memorable villains. In her one appearance on the show, Nora Clavicle uses her wits and charm to convince Mayor Linseed to give her the Commissioner job, which is all part of a devious plan to destroy Gotham City and collect on an insurance claim. How does she plan to do it, though? With mechanical mice. Since she replaced the police force with housewives, they’re all afraid of mice. Pretty sexist, right? Ahh, those crazy 1960s. 

34. CALAMITY JAN (DINA MERRILL)


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 21, 22)

It’s a shame that Batman doesn’t really let Dina Merrill’s Calamity Jan be much more than arm candy for their western spoof villain Shame, but at least the actress does the best she can with the material she’s got. Calamity Jan comes across as adorable and silly, but just smart enough to probably be able to ditch Shame and bring Batman and Robin to their knees. Sadly, we’ll never know if that’s true since she’s mostly playing second fiddle to Cliff Roberston’s Shame. 

35. DR. CASSANDRA SPELLCRAFT (IDA LUPINO)


SEASON 3 (EPISODE 25)

Ida Lupino helped pave the way for female directors of our time, so it should come as no surprise that she’s very much the leading power in the villainous duo that headlines Batman’s penultimate episode. Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft comes from a long line of female alchemists, but she’s determined to be the only successful one. So she uses her power to bring down the Bat. Or tries, at least. She’s a bright, colorful character in many ways, but the way she puts her silly husband Cabala in his place is the very best thing about her.

36. CABALA (HOWARD DUFF)


SEASON 3 (EPISODE 25)

After a few episodes that feature female villains mostly relegated to storylines dominated by male power (Nora Clavicle and Calamity Jan), it’s great to see one where the man completely and utterly does anything he can to make his wife happy, right? Played by Howard Duff, Cabala is less a villain and more a sidekick to Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft. He’ll do anything to please her, calls her “Doccy Baby,” and can often be caught checking himself out in the mirror rather than plotting villainous schemes.

37. MINERVA (ZSA ZSA GABOR)


SEASON 3 (EPISODE 26)

Batman’s final villain is also one of its most glamorous. Played by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Minerva opens a health spa in Gotham City and uses her Deepest Secret Extractor to run amok. She’s pulling off robberies left and right, and even Alfred gets involved going undercover to help The Dynamic Duo. What makes Minerva so memorable, however, is the star power of Gabor. Sure, she’s mostly just saying “Darlings…” a lot, but her appearance as the platinum-dressed villainess will likely never be forgotten. 

Batman: The Complete Series (Limited Edition) is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD now.

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain 
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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About I Love Lucy
Original image
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain 

When I Love Lucy premiered on October 15, 1951, no one could have predicted that it would become one of television’s most beloved and enduring programs of all time. But a combination of innovative filming techniques, the dogged perfectionism of star Lucille Ball, top-notch writing, the “can do” attitude of the production staff, and the business savvy of Desi Arnaz, I Love Lucy topped the Nielsen ratings for four out of its six seasons and picked up a handful of Emmys along the way. And even though the show’s main stars couldn’t stay married to one another (Lucy and Desi divorced in 1960, after 20 years of marriage), they remained the best of friends. As Desi would proclaim until his dying day, “I Love Lucy was never just a title.”

1. CBS DIDN’T THINK AMERICANS WOULD BUY THAT LUCY WAS MARRIED TO A “FOREIGN” MAN.

When CBS approached Lucille Ball with the offer of turning her popular radio show My Favorite Husband into a television show, she was agreeable with one condition: that her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz, would be cast in the role of her spouse (played on the radio by Richard Denning). The network balked—there was no way that American viewers would accept average housewife Liz Cooper (her character’s name on the radio series) being married to a “foreign” man with an indecipherable accent. Never mind the fact that Lucy and Desi had been married more than a decade; such a “mixed” marriage was unbelievable.

2. LUCY AND DESI HAD TO TAKE THEIR SHOW ON THE ROAD TO CONVINCE THE NETWORK BRASS.

Arnaz had a successful career touring the country with his rhumba band, which was one of the reasons Lucille wanted him to get cast as her TV husband—to keep him off the road and close to home. In an effort to show the network (and potential sponsors) that they could work together as a comedy team, they crafted a sort of vaudevillian skit that was inserted into the middle of performances by the Desi Arnaz Orchestra during a tour in the summer of 1950. The audiences roared over Lucille’s antics and her interaction with Desi as she interrupted his band’s concert confusedly, cello in hand, thinking she had an audition scheduled. The “Professor” skit not only convinced the network powers that be that the couple could, in fact, be convincing as husband and wife—it also was such a hit that it was incorporated into episode six of I Love Lucy’s first season.

3. THE SHOW BROKE GROUND IN SEVERAL WAYS, SIMPLY BECAUSE THE ARNAZES WOULDN’T MOVE TO NEW YORK.

Lucille and Desi wanted to work in Los Angeles, near their home and their new baby daughter Lucie. But in 1951 the majority of television shows were broadcast from New York, and that’s where sponsor Philip Morris wanted their show to originate as well. In those days the U.S. wasn’t wired for television from coast-to-coast; shows broadcast live could only be transmitted so far. As a result, such shows were preserved on kinescopes (a movie camera aimed at a TV monitor that recorded the show in negligible quality) and shipped to distant stations.

Philip Morris objected to I Love Lucy being performed in California and the kinescopes sent to New York; their biggest cigarette market was up and down the east coast and they wanted the best TV picture quality for that area. Desi Arnaz suggested that the show be filmed with three cameras, like a stage play, which would provide the same quality picture for every market. But multi-cameras had never been used on a situation comedy before, and there were many obstacles involved, not the least of which was accommodating a live studio audience (Desi knew that Lucille worked best when she got immediate audience feedback).

Desi hired legendary cinematographer Karl Freund to help solve the dilemma, and along with writer-producer Jess Oppenheimer and director Marc Daniels, they built a set, and the necessary filming equipment was strategically placed. CBS balked at the additional expense involved in this undertaking, so Arnaz struck a deal: he and Lucille would take a large cut in their salaries and their company, Desilu Productions, would retain ownership of the films in exchange. The enduring high quality of the 35 millimeter film was part of the reason that I Love Lucy became so popular in rerun syndication, and Desilu’s 100 percent ownership of the series made Lucille and Desi the first millionaire TV stars.

4. ONLY LUCY WAS ALLOWED TO MAKE FUN OF RICKY’S FRACTURED ENGLISH.

After a few episodes were filmed, it became an unwritten rule that only Lucy would ever poke fun at her husband’s pronunciation problems. The writers had allowed other characters to make remarks, but in each case the “joke” was met with stony silence from the studio audience. For some reason, it seemed cruel when anyone other than Lucy “mucked” Ricky’s English.

5. SMOKING WAS REQUIRED ON-CAMERA.

I Love Lucy almost never made it to the air because CBS had trouble securing a sponsor for the show. Finally tobacco giant Philip Morris signed on at the 11th hour. As a result, lots of smoking was featured in each episode, and the name “Philip Morris” was worked into the dialogue whenever plausible. There was, however, one small problem: Lucille Ball was a Chesterfield girl. She eventually overcame this little hurdle by having a stagehand stuff any on-camera Philip Morris packs full of Chesterfield cigarettes.

6. WILLIAM FRAWLEY WAS FAR FROM THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY FRED MERTZ.

Lucille Ball was eager to have Gale Gordon, whom she’d worked with on her My Favorite Husband radio show, play crusty neighbor and landlord Fred Mertz. But Gordon, who had a steady gig at the time on the Our Miss Brooks radio program, asked for more money than Desilu had to offer. Character actor William Frawley knew Ball in passing (they’d met back in the 1940s) and phoned her personally when he read about her upcoming TV show in the trade papers to inquire if there might be a part for him. CBS and Philip Morris were wary of hiring Frawley, who had a reputation for being a heavy drinker. But Arnaz (no stranger to the bottle himself) thought that Frawley was just curmudgeonly enough to bring Fred Mertz to life. He met Frawley for lunch at Nickodell’s on Melrose Avenue and offered him the role with the proviso that if he missed work for any reason other than legitimate illness, he’d be written out of the show.

7. DORIS ZIFFEL WAS ALMOST ETHEL MERTZ.

Lucille had worked with Bea Benaderet in radio and wanted her to play Ethel Mertz. But Benaderet had just signed on to play Blanche Morton on the TV version of The Burns and Allen Show and was unavailable. Barbara Pepper was a personal friend of Ball’s, and the two had worked in films together, so she was the next serious consideration for the role. Pepper was the right age and body type to play Ethel, but she was also a known alcoholic and the network nixed her after Frawley was hired; two heavy drinkers in the main cast was too risky. I Love Lucy had already gone into early rehearsals by the time director Marc Daniels saw Vivian Vance performing in a play at the La Jolla Playhouse and recommended her to Arnaz. Pepper did play background characters on several I Love Lucy episodes and would go on to land the role of Doris Ziffel on Green Acres.

8. THE “MERTZES” DESPISED ONE ANOTHER OFF-CAMERA.

Vivian Vance was 22 years younger than her TV husband and resented having such an “old poop” play her spouse. Frawley responded in kind, referring to her variously as “that sack of doorknobs” or just plain “b*tch.” But all that animosity was strictly behind the scenes and known mostly only to the series’ writers and directors. Frawley and Vance were savvy enough to not jeopardize their jobs on TV’s most successful show by openly airing their mutual hostility. Even co-workers like Keith Thibodeaux (Little Ricky, a.k.a. Richard Keith) and Roy Rowan (the show’s announcer), who were on the set daily, had no idea that things were less than cuddly between the two actors until years after I Love Lucy ceased production.

9. DESI ARNAZ HAD LIFTS IN HIS SHOES (AND HIS LOVESEAT).

Arnaz listed his height as 5’11” in most official biographies, but those who worked with him knew that in reality he was 5’9” and wore four-inch lifts in his shoes. Lucille Ball stood 5’7” in her stocking feet, and when she wore heels she seemed to tower over her husband. Desi Arnaz Jr. would later explain to an interviewer that his father “was a Cuban with a Latin male’s pride,” which is why it was important to him to be taller than his wife. A dual-purpose, subtle additional cushion (undetectable by the viewing audience) was added to the Ricardos’ loveseat so that Ricky would be taller than Lucy while seated, and would also give him the extra boost needed to gracefully rise from a sitting position up onto his elevator shoes.

10. ARNAZ FLATLY REJECTED A SCENE THAT INVOLVED RICKY CHEATING ON HIS TAXES.

Desi Arnaz was an unabashed believer in the American Dream and was very patriotic when it came to his adopted homeland. Desi was 17 years old when Fulgencio Batista overthrew the Cuban government and the Arnaz family fled to Miami with little more than the clothes they were wearing. The family lived in a warehouse with some other refugees and Desi got a job cleaning birdcages for a man whole sold canaries to pet stores. As he said during his acceptance speech on Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town in 1954, “From cleaning canary cages to this night in New York is a long ways. And I don’t think there’s any other country in the world that could give you that opportunity.” So when a scene in original script in the episode “Lucy Tells the Truth” called for Ricky to fudge some numbers on his income tax return, Arnaz refused to play it and asked the writers to remove it. He didn’t want the audience to think that Ricky would cheat the U.S. government.

11. THE CANDY LADY WAS A BIG DIPPER IN REAL LIFE.

“Job Switching” (often referred to as “The Candy Factory Episode”) has long been a fan favorite, particularly the scene where Lucy and Ethel are stuffing their faces and clothing with chocolates while trying to keep up with a speedy conveyor belt. The previous scene featured Lucy hand-dipping chocolates with a real-life dipper that stage manager Herb Browar found at See’s Candies on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Amanda Milligan had never seen I Love Lucy (she watched wrestling on Monday nights), but Browar hired her anyway; he thought her deadpan expression would make her the perfect straight woman for Lucille to react to. During rehearsals Lucille was worried that the scene just wasn’t going to be funny on film because Milligan seemed hesitant to hit her in the face as the script specified. When the cameras were rolling, Milligan hauled off and smacked Lucille so hard that Ball feared her nose had been broken. Despite her pain and ringing ears Ball didn’t call for a “cut” because she did not want to have to do another take! During a break in filming Lucille asked Milligan “So, how do you like working in show business?” An unsmiling Milligan, who’d spent eight hours per day for the past 30 years putting swirls on chocolates, replied, “I’ve never been so bored in my life.”

12. LUCILLE WAS TOO STRESSED TO APPRECIATE THE HUMOR IN ONE OF HER MOST POPULAR EPISODES.

Another fan favorite was, interestingly, not one of Ball’s favorite episodes. It wasn’t until “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” was voted tops in many viewer polls over the years that she acknowledged that it was a funny episode. During filming, she was too nervous and worried about messing up her lines (imagine having to say “Vitameatavegamin” that many times during a spiel) to appreciate the humor.

Ball was many things, including a great physical comedienne, but one thing she was not was an improviser or extemporaneous speaker. Every slurred word of her drunken Vitameatavegamin pitch was in the script. Lucille even came up with a backup plan, lest she forget her lines: she had script supervisor Maury Thompson made up and placed off-side in front of her podium holding up her lines (there were no cue cards on the I Love Lucy set), much like a real commercial setting.

By the way, that stuff Lucy was pouring onto the spoon was apple pectin.

13. BECAUSE THE SHOW WAS FILMED IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE, THEY HESITATED TO YELL “CUT” AND RESHOOT SCENES.

As a result, the occasional blooper was left in and sort of papered-over. One classic example occurred in “Redecorating the Mertz’s Apartment,” at the breakfast table when Lucy is musing aloud about how to repair both the Mertz’s marriage and their tacky apartment. See how Desi saves the scene after she mistakenly says “paint the furniture and reupholster the old furniture:”

14. LUCILLE’S PREGNANCY CREATED PANIC BEHIND THE SCENES.

During season two, Ball discovered that she was pregnant. While the Arnazes were overjoyed (Lucille had previously suffered three miscarriages before giving birth to daughter Lucie in July 1951), they were also concerned about the fate of their hit series. Other than the late 1940s sitcom Mary Kay and Johnny (which also starred a real-life married couple), a visibly pregnant female had never starred on a TV series. It would be impossible to conceal Lucille’s condition because, as Desi told the network, “she got as big as a house when she was carrying Lucie.”

Eventually, the network agreed to write Ball’s pregnancy into the show, and Desi hired a local Catholic priest, a minister, and a rabbi to sit in while each episode was filmed to determine whether there was anything objectionable. CBS deemed that the word “pregnant” was vulgar, so it was replaced with “expecting” (or, as Ricky pronounced it, “‘spectin’”). The scene at the Tropicana, where Lucy finally breaks the news to Ricky, was genuinely emotional for the actors, who both started crying and Desi had to be prompted “sing the baby song!” Director William Asher reshot that scene, but decided that the raw emotion in the original take made for a more poignant moment and used it.

15. LITTLE RICKY AND DESI ARNAZ JR. WERE BORN ON THE SAME DAY.

The Arnazes already knew that Lucille would give birth via Caesarian section when her time came (as that was how Lucie had been delivered), and Ball’s obstetrician regularly scheduled all his C-sections on Mondays. As luck would have it, I Love Lucy aired on Monday nights, so with the pregnancy episodes timed just so, Ball went to the hospital the same night that Lucy Ricardo did.

What the Arnazes did not know in advance, however, was the gender of their pending bundle of joy. I Love Lucy head writer Jess Oppenheimer had decided that the Ricardos would have a boy, so when Desi Arnaz Jr. was born, Desi Sr. joyfully called Jess to announce proudly, “Lucy followed your script! Ain’t she something?!” (By the way, a record-breaking 71.7 percent of American televisions were tuned in that Monday night to see the Ricardo baby, which topped the number of folks who watched Dwight D. Eisenhower get sworn in as President the following day.)

16. LUCILLE TRULY SUFFERED FOR THAT ICONIC GRAPE-STOMPING EPISODE.

“Lucy’s Italian Movie” faced a variety of obstacles. First was getting a vineyard to donate the necessary grapes for stomping. The company that ultimately agreed did so with the proviso that it must be mentioned in the script that foot-pressing was an outmoded method of making wine in Italy. Next was the local extra cast to wrestle Lucille in the grape vat; Teresa Tirelli didn’t speak any English and an interpreter had to explain the scene to her. Apparently something was lost in the translation because Tirelli didn’t grasp that this was supposed to be a filmed-from-the-waist-up fake fight and she literally held Lucille’s head under the grape mush until the star very nearly drowned. And even though the show was broadcast in black and white, Ball, Arnaz, and the production staff were sticklers for detail so a formula for a purplish/blue dye had to be worked out that would properly tint Lucille’s flesh and hair without irritating her skin or reacting with the chemicals used to keep her permed locks that famous henna color for that final scene.

17. LUCILLE EXASPERATED GUEST STAR HARPO MARX.

Ball was a long-time admirer of Harpo Marx, but when it came to actually working with him, she was unprepared for his “never the same way twice” approach to his comedy routines. In the Hollywood episode where she was required to mirror his moves, she insisted on incessant rehearsals to get the bit just right. But Harpo’s attitude was “I’ve done this bit for 35 years, why do I need so much rehearsal?” In the end, this was one of the few instances where the scene was re-shot several times after the studio audience had left and was later pieced together by editor Dann Cahn.

18. THE LONGEST LAUGH ON THE SHOW LASTED 65 SECONDS.

When Lucy hid dozens of eggs and then danced the tango with Ricky (resulting in the inevitable blouse full of scrambled yolks), the audience roared for so long that ultimately some of the laughter had to be edited out in the final film. Neither Ball nor Vance had used eggs during rehearsals so that their onscreen reactions would be more genuine when the shells cracked and the albumen slimed its way down their flesh.

19. ARNAZ REQUIRED AS MUCH REALISM AS POSSIBLE, NO MATTER THE COST OR DIFFICULTY.

No matter how wacky the situation, Arnaz tried hard to maintain some veracity, thinking that that the audience would believe it (and thus find it more humorous) if the actors believed it. So when a scene in “Pioneer Women” required an eight-foot-long loaf of bread to pop out of the oven, the producers found a New York bakery willing to bake one. (It was rye bread, by the way, and when filming was finished it was cut up and served to the audience.) Likewise, in “Deep Sea Fishing” when Ricky and Fred entered into a bet with Lucy and Ethel to see who could catch the biggest fish, two 100-plus pound tunas were purchased at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, packed in ice into child-sized coffins and air-shipped to Hollywood.

20. THE “UH-OH” LADY HEARD IN THE STUDIO AUDIENCE WAS LUCILLE’S MOM.

Quite often when Lucy Ricardo was stepping into a precarious situation, a woman in the audience could be heard uttering “uh-oh.” That was Dede Ball, who attended every taping and tended to get wrapped up in the proceedings. I Love Lucy sound engineer Glen Glenn was the co-founder of Glen Glenn Sound, and in the 1960s and ‘70s his company was one of the leading providers of laugh tracks, or canned laughter, to TV sitcoms. Many of the yuks used in their recordings were culled from I Love Lucy and The Red Skelton Show, which is why Dede’s “uh-oh” could be heard years later on shows she’d never seen, much less been in attendance.

Additional Sources:
A Book, by Desi Arnaz The Lucy Book, by Geoffrey Mark Fidelman Meet the Mertzes, by Ron Edelman and Audrey Kupferberg The “I Love Lucy” Book, by Bart Andrews Lucy & Ricky & Fred & Ethel: The Story of I Love Lucy, by Bart Andrews Laughs, Luck….and Lucy, by Jess Oppenheimer

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Michael Loccisano / Getty Images
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Pop Culture
Steven Spielberg’s Anthology Series Amazing Stories Is Being Rebooted for Apple
Original image
Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Steven Spielberg may be best known for his Oscar-winning work as a film director, but he’s also put forth some prestige television shows. His best known example, Amazing Stories—which ran from 1985 to 1987—offered a lighter take on a fantasy/sci-fi anthology series for a post-Twilight Zone world. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that the program is being revived for Apple, with Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal, American Gods) being tapped to lead the project.

After making a deal with Amblin Entertainment, Spielberg’s production company, Apple announced it will release a 10-episode season of the rebooted series with each episode telling a new story in the genres of fantasy, horror, or science fiction. Fuller will act as both showrunner and executive producer. A release date has yet to be announced.

Amazing Stories will mark Apple's first foray into original content, joining other producers of streaming-only shows like Netflix and Hulu. And with a budget of $5 million per episode, Apple appears to be tackling the program just like any major network would.

When Amazing Stories, named after the early science fiction pulp magazine, debuted in 1985, it was praised for packing Spielberg’s cinematic flair into 30-minute packages. Big names like Martin Scorsese, John Williams, Clint Eastwood, and Brad Bird all contributed to the original project. Details as to who might be on board for the revival are still pending.

[h/t The Wall Street Journal]

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