LUCY LOVES DESI:
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON
THE WAY TO THE SITCOM
by Gregg Oppenheimer
It’s 1949, and Lucille Ball is starring in a hit sitcom on CBS Radio. When the network offers Lucy her own TV series, she has one condition. Her husband, Cuban-born bandleader Desi Arnaz, must costar. But CBS wants a more “All-American” leading man. This is the hilarious true story of how Lucy and Desi launched history’s most groundbreaking and influential sitcom: “I Love Lucy.” They challenged mid-century America’s social mores, including opposition to a Cuban American costar and showing a pregnant woman on television. The play is presented as an easy-to-produce 1950s-style radio broadcast, using recorded, radio-show-style music cues (supplied with the licensing of the script). Written by the son of “I Love Lucy” creator Jess Oppenheimer, this witty, fast-paced comedy has “as much heart and humor as the series itself” (SWVA Today).
- Cast Size: 21M 6W 2 Any Gender (minimum with doubling 6M 2W)
- Running Time: 65-70 minutes
- Royalty Rate: $75 per performance
Order Digital Download (Will NOT download to phones, cannot be printed)
Downloadable Music Cues that are allowed with each production license can be found at: www.lucynet.com/cues.zip
About the Playwright
Gregg Oppenheimer,son of I Love Lucy creator-producer-head writer Jess Oppenheimer, got his start in comedy at the tender age of four, when his father introduced him to Lucille Ball on the I Love Lucy set. Kneeling down, a smiling Lucy asked Gregg, “Where did you get those big brown eyes?” Gregg’s deadpan reply: “They came with the face.” Lucy nearly fell over laughing. After a brief stint as a rehearsal cameraman on The Debbie Reynolds Show,Gregg left Hollywood and attended the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, receiving a degree in Art & Design, then law school at U.C. Berkeley. He became a partner in the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers in 1986. Ten years later, Gregg left his law career to complete his late father’s humorous memoir, Laughs, Luck…and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time, published by Syracuse University Press. The book went through eight printings and was the basis for Gregg’s comedy play, LUCY LOVES DESI: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom. Gregg also produced the award-winning I Love Lucy DVD Series for CBS and Paramount. His theatre credits include co-writing and directing the annual benefit show ON THE AIR: An Evening of Live Radio Classics! for the award-winning Palm Springs theatre company, Dezart Performs, starring such performers as Gary Beach, Joyce Bulifant, Carole Cook, Mariette Hartley, Hal Linden, Gavin MacLeod, Millicent Martin, Lee Meriwether, Phil Proctor, Marion Ross, and Fred Willard. Gregg appeared in Amy Poehler’s Emmy Award-winning 2022 documentary, Lucy and Desi, and has been interviewed on the subject of I Love Lucy on the CBS News, 20/20, Entertainment Tonight, A&E’s Biography, Donnie & Marie, CNN, E! Entertainment Television, MSNBC, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, Granada Television (U.K.), and NHK (Japan). Gregg has lectured on the history of broadcasting at the University of Southern California, Brown University, Hofstra University, Northwestern University, Emerson College, University of Rhode Island, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. He is a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild.
Attended a performance in NJ in the late spring. Throughly enjoyed it!!! I’m the I Love Lucy fan , my husband attended with me and he loved it as well!!! It also gave insight to the brilliant mind of Desi Arnaz. . I knew all bout him my husband is not . If you have the opportunity to see this play , GO!’
It’s so awesome to have someone so familiar to what really went on behind the scenes and on the I Love Lucy show so thankful that he is here to document the history. Thanks to his dad and thanks to him for paying attention.
When Lucille Ball was offered a television sitcom (before anyone knew quite what that was), she insisted it would have to co-star her husband Desi Arnaz, Cuban accent and all. Network executives and sponsors were adamantly opposed. How the two of them overcame that obstacle and many others, and discovered how to produce, film, and air a runaway hit show; how Arnaz developed into an innovative television mogul; and how they showed pregnancy on air when the word “pregnant” was forbidden, is a fascinating story, told here by the son of Jess Oppenheimer, the original producer/director/head writer, with technical assistance from Lucie Arnaz.