I Love Lucy initially centered on the relationship between bandleader Ricky (the “I” in I Love Lucy) and Lucy Ricardo and their friends, the Mertzes. However, it soon developed into the relationship between millions of American television viewers and their Monday-evening neighbors.   

I Love Lucy enjoyed enormous popularity during its six-season run—so much so that, beginning in the 1950s, it generated a line of I Love Lucy merchandise—including paper dolls, jewelry, clothing, knickknacks, and a comic book series.  In recent years, the show and its members, creators, and producers have been the subjects of numerous books—biographies, chronologies, coffee-table, trivia, and even The I Love Lucy Cookbook.

In 1955 I Love Lucy achieved a significant television first―it became the first television series to be broadcast as reruns, a phenomenon made possible because it was produced on film and not the grainier kinescope, as were most other programs of its time. The show continues to be rerun and is now also available on DVD.

Following the completion of the final half-hour I Love Lucy episode broadcast on May 6, 1957, Desilu Productions, Inc., produced a series of thirteen additional Ricardos-and-Mertzes shows The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, (later rerun as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour), broadcast between November 1957 and April 1960. Other Desilu productions included Star Trek, The Andy Griffith Show, Mission Impossible, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. However, I Love Lucy was the company’s first and greatest achievement. It has been dubbed into twenty-two languages and seen in eighty countries.  More than a half-century after the final episode was first broadcast, viewers around the world continue to Love Lucy..

“Desilu: The Story of an Empire”

Lloyd Shearer. Scrapbook page showing article regarding Desilu Productions, Inc, “Desilu: The Story of an Empire.” Parade magazine, October 13, 1957. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (088.00.00). [Digital ID # lucy0088]. © 1957 Lloyd Sherer. Initially published in Parade Magazine. All rights reserved.

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“The Courtroom,” 1952

Photograph of scene from Episode No. 42, “The Courtroom,” 1952. Facsimile. Music Division, Library of Congress (109.00.00). Courtesy of Desilu, too, LLC. Use of photo still from I Love Lucy courtesy of CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

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Desi Arnaz Paper Doll, 1953

Desi Arnaz paper doll, 1953. Photomechanical print: halftone, color. USA: Whitman Publishing Company, 1953. Music Division, Library of Congress (089.00.00). [Digital ID # cph-3g04416]. Rights to the images in this collection are the sole property of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr./Desilu, too, LLC

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Lucille Ball Paper Doll, 1953

Lucille Ball paper doll, 1953. Photomechanical print: halftone, color. USA: Whitman Publishing Company, 1953. Music Division, Library of Congress (090.00.00). [Digital ID # chp-3g04417]. Rights to the images in this collection are the sole property of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr./Desilu, too, LLC

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Little Ricky Paper Doll, 1953

Little Ricky paper doll, 1953. Photomechanical print: halftone, color. USA: Whitman Publishing Company, 1953. Music Division, Library of Congress (091.00.00). [Digital ID # cph-3g04418]. Rights to the images in this collection are the sole property of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr./Desilu, too, LLC

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Lucy & Gang, 1992

Ralph Marlin, designer. Lucy & Gang, 1992 (Image showing Ball, Arnaz, Vance, and Frawley from Episode No. 110, “California, Here We Come!” ca. 1990). 100% polyester necktie. Courtesy of Private Collector, (093.01.00). [Digital ID # lucy0093_01]. Rights to the images in this collection are the sole property of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr./Desilu, too, LLC. Courtesy of Ralph Marlin

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I Love Lucy: The Complete First Season on DVD

I Love Lucy: The Complete First Season on DVD. Cover. Music Division, Library of Congress (095.00.00). [Digital ID # lucy0095]. CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved © 2005

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“Lucy and Ricky Kissing on Couch,” 2010

“Lucy and Ricky Kissing on Couch,” 2010. Salt and pepper shakers. Courtesy of Private Collector (97.00.00). [Digital ID # lucy0097]. Rights to the images in this collection are the sole property of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr./Desilu, too, LLC

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I Love Lucy: Celebrating 50 years of Love and Laughter

Elisabeth Edwards. I Love Lucy: Celebrating 50 years of Love and Laughter. Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 2010. Music Division, Library of Congress (097.01.00). [Digital ID # lucy0097_02]. Courtesy of Elisabeth Edwards. Use of cover image from I Love Lucy courtesy of CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

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