The Argument That Made Lucille Ball Cry During I Love Lucy
Popular ’50s sitcom “I Love Lucy” has withstood the test of time and is still loved by viewers around the world 70 years after it first aired.
Stories of the original cast and their antics on and off camera have been shared by the media over the years. Yet, one stands out among the rest as it left the show’s star in tears.
History in the Making
In the early ’50s, television history was made as the first-ever episode of “I Love Lucy” aired on CBS.
The show followed the life of Lucille Ball, the quirky wife of Cuban singer and band member Ricky Ricardo. Set in New York during the ’50s, it would go on to attain a cult-like following.
Lucille Ball Becomes a TV Superstar
Lucille Ball took on the role of Lucy, becoming an instant favorite among viewers during the middle part of the 20th century.
Her comedic talents helped the show become the most-watched program in America for four of its six seasons. Overall, 180 episodes were released over a six-year period from 1951 to 1957.
Ball Left in Tears After First Encounter
After directing all 35 episodes of the first season, Marc Daniels decided to leave the show in search of other ventures (via Slashfilm).
In his place came William Asher, whose first encounter with the show’s star, Lucille Ball, left her crying backstage.
Asher Close to Leaving Set on His First Day
DGA Quarterly spoke of Asher’s takeover during a written piece in 2003.
According to Ted Elrick, “Asher’s first day on the set nearly ended his association with the show.”
Director Returns and Confronts Ball
Asher had stepped off set momentarily, and upon his return, he had spotted Ball giving out instructions on set.
After approaching Ball, he said, “Lucy, there’s only one director. I’m it. If you would like to direct, then don’t pay me and send me home.”
Star Bursts into Tears
After the brief confrontation, Asher says Ball burst into tears and left the stage.
“When I said that, she began to cry and ran off the stage. Everybody disappeared. Desi hadn’t been in the scene. I didn’t know where to go because I had no office,” he said.
Contemplating Life on the Toilet
After watching Ball leave in tears, Asher says he “went to the men’s bathroom, sat on the toilet, and didn’t know what the hell to do. I realized I’d blown my first day of what was really a pretty good job.”
“I sat there for a long time and finally got up and went back to the stage,” he continued.
Asher Is Confronted by Desi
When the director finally mustered up the courage to return back to the stage, Lucille’s husband, Desi, confronted him.
“He was furious. He was cussing me out in Spanish, and I didn’t know what he was saying. I settled him down and said, ‘Look, Desi, here’s what happened.’ And he said, ‘Well, you’re absolutely right, Bill.’”
Asher was Instructed to Apologize to Ball
Desi then instructed Asher to go and find Lucille and apologize to her in person.
“She’s crying. Go talk to her and settle this thing,” said Desi. Asher continued, “So that’s what I did. I went in. I said I was sorry I upset her. And she was crying, and I started to cry. And after a while, we went back to work.”
No More Trouble on Set
The pair eventually seem to have patched things up reasonably quickly. Asher went on to explain they never had any more problems.
“But I’ll tell you this. I never had trouble from her after that. She had her opinion and would offer it, but nothing ever behind my back. Everything was just fine. That’s the way it was for the next five years,” he said.
Director Produces Over 100 Episodes
Asher stayed with the show for several years and went on to direct over 100 episodes of the classic sitcom.
The director later went on to be involved in hits, including “Gidget” in the ’60s, and wrote, produced, and directed the sitcom “The Patty Duke Show” from 1963 to 66.