It's been 69 years since the beloved sitcom, "I Love Lucy" hit American television screens.
On Oct. 15, 1951, the black-and-white series aired and soon became a cult classic with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz co-starring as the Ricardos--appearing alongside their landlord friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley, Vivian Vance).
Straight from 623 E. 68th Street in Manhattan, phrases like "Lucy, 'I'm home!" filled viewers' households and spread laughter, even on good days gone bad.
"I Love Lucy" ran six seasons on CBS with 180 half-hour episodes of wacky Lucy trying everything to get into her bandleader husband's act, or break the mold of the American housewife--even if it meant devouring chocolate that lined a candy factory conveyor-belt.
Still today, on Facebook, nearly two million "I Love Lucy" community group members share their most-treasured, laugh-out-loud moments from the show.
In 1974, Ball appeared on The Dick Cavett Show and revealed secrets of one of her favorite scenes from season 5, episode 23's grape-stomping fight from "Lucy's Italian Movie."
"Finally I slipped. And in slipping, I hit her, accidentally, and she took offense and so she hauled off and let me have it," Ball told Cavett. "Now, this was supposed to happen. That she got right. But when she hit me, oh my God..."
Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Ball and Desi Arnaz, told "GMA" in 2019, that she and her brother often hear these complimentary words from fans: "Watching that show got us through some really tough times."
"I have the same favorites everybody else has," said Arnaz, who created the phrase, "The healing power of love and laughter" as part of a mission statement for The Lucy Desi Center/Museum in her mother's hometown of Jamestown, New York. "Of course Vitameatavegamin is just classic, classic comedy -- doesn't get any better than that. No one was ever more believable."
Arnaz said that her parents had undeniable chemistry on screen: "When they were in their best together, they were a wonderful compliment to each other’s passions and desires."
Ball and Desi Arnaz were actually married while filming "I Love Lucy"--a show which TV Guide named one of the best series of all time.
In 1955, Keith Thibodeaux, aka "Little Ricky," auditioned for the role of Ricky Ricardo Jr.
"I walked on the set and there was Lucy, she was standing there and she was looking at me," Thibodeaux told ABC News in 2015. "She said 'OK he's cute, but what does he do?' My dad said, 'Well he plays the drums' and she said, 'Oh, come on--I can't believe that.' Then, she says 'Look, we have a drum set over there, go ahead and let him play.' Eventually Desi Arnaz himself came over and started jamming with me on the drums and then he kind of stood up and said 'Well, I think we found Little Ricky.'"
For the next five years, Thibodeaux would appear in more than 35 episodes of the comedy.
Prior to Thibodeaux, twins Joseph and Michael Mayer would play Little Ricky Ricardo--a character whom was first introduced to the show on Jan. 19, 1953 in "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" (season 2, episode 16), where Lucy and Ricky welcome a baby.
CBS aired the episode to 44 million Americans for a near 72% Nielsen rating and is still loved today. As chance would have it, Desi Arnaz Jr., son of Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr., was born the same date Little Ricky "arrived" amid the episode's broadcast.
Nearly seven decades since its original air date, "I Love Lucy" continues to run on streaming services, and on cable. The sitcom, which was released on DVD in a special colorized collection in 2019, had four Emmy wins in 20 nominations.
In 1991, "I Love Lucy" was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. The show is still syndicated in dozens of languages globally and remains popular with an American audience of 40 million each year, according to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Its colorized Christmas episode attracted more than 8 million viewers when CBS aired it 62 years after the show premiered.
"'I Love Lucy' is often regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms in history," the Television Academy wrote on its website. "In 2012, it was voted the 'Best TV Show of All Time' in a survey conducted by ABC News and People magazine."
And as Thibodeaux, one of the last surviving cast member of the show once said, "It's held up all these years...I can say, in a humble way, that I don't think it's ever been matched."
'I Love Lucy,' the comedy that withstood the test of time, turns 69. originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com