October 15, 1951

I Love Lucy Entertains America

34-cent Lucille Ball stamp
The 34-cent Lucille Ball stamp, part of the Legends of Hollywood Series, was issued August 6, 2001. Lucille Ball was the first television star to be honored in the Legends of Hollywood stamp series.

As a white woman and a Hispanic man, Lucy and Desi were an unusual couple by 1950s standards, and CBS was unsure how the American audience would react. But it turned out that this cultural dynamic actually brought another level of comedy to the show, as Arnaz played up his Latino heritage and made misunderstandings even more confusing with a language barrier thrown into the mix. Set off by Lucy’s antics, Ricky would launch into a tirade of rapid Spanish, giving Lucy material for an imitation of her husband’s outburst in true Marx Brothers fashion.

Though she built her persona on laughs, Lucy’s legacy is one to be taken seriously. The episode featuring Little Ricky’s birth captured 15 million more viewers than Eisenhower’s inauguration as President of the United States, which aired just the day before. Because of Lucy’s lasting impact on the TV world, her children took a close look at how she would be depicted on a stamp. An early version of the Lucille Ball Legends of Hollywood stamp showed the actress as Lucy Ricardo, with clown makeup and a comical grin plastered across her face.