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Liz Cooper vs. Lucy Ricardo


Mot Morenzi
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As Finding Lucy put it, My Favorite Husband allowed Lucille "to step into the voice and shoes of a character only a heartbeat away from Lucy Ricardo".

 

And it's true that Liz Cugat/Cooper was the prototype Lucy Ricardo. But there were some drastic differences between the characters, and Lucille's performances of the two really does make them distinct women. The varying mediums (radio/television) surely had something to do with such differences, but still...

 

One is hairstyle and appearance. In most publicity photos, Lucille wore her hair down for the radio show, similar to the styles she wore in the earliest I Love Lucy episodes. In any event, I always associate that down hairstyle with Liz Cooper, whereas Lucy Ricardo is most recognizable by that signature bun. Indeed, watching those early I Love Lucy episodes, I tend to see a bit more Liz than Lucy in her performance.

 

Some of the differences between the two characters are hard for me to put into words. I suppose I find Liz a bit gentler, more demure than Lucy. You could call Liz "Lucy Lite". Lucy Ricardo was a more fully formed, multi-layered and fiery version of Liz. It's fascinating to listen to the radio episodes that inspired I Love Lucy episodes to hear Lucille deliver many of the same lines, often in very different ways.

 

Take Time Budgeting, which inspired the TV episode Lucy's Schedule. In both shows, George/Ricky lay down the law and tell Liz/Lucy about her new time schedule, allowing "15 minutes for this, 15 minutes for that, 10 minutes for something else."

 

In the radio version, Liz timidly responds, "I'll need more than 10 minutes for something else." It receives a minor chuckle from the audience. In the TV version, however, Lucy boldy responds, "Oooh, I'll need more than 15 minutes for that!" It receives quite a hearty laugh from the audience. Perhaps the change in medium allowed her to play it up more, or perhaps her skill and talent had developed so sharply over the three years she did the radio show that her acting ability was simply more astute. Whatever the reason, Lucille's performances in those radio-based TV episodes almost always trump the radio counterparts, IMO.

 

Her different co-stars also undoubtedly affected how she portrayed each character. Acting opposite Richard Denning on radio, for example, never exactly gave Lucille a great amount of energy to play off of. Not that there was anything wrong with Denning's performance, but most people would probably admit that their chemistry was never exactly explosive. He was your typical, white-bread, All-American husband and business man.

 

Ricky Ricardo, however, had "salsa". Desi's fiercer energy obviously allowed Lucille to up the ante and play back with much more force in order to match her husband's power. Which, of course, resulted in Lucy Ricardo having a great deal more flare than her radio predecessor.

 

Not that such differences are a bad thing. If anything they prove Lucille's versatility as an actress, and I adore both shows equally. The radio show is great when I'm in the car, I listen to it at least once a week.

 

Any other thoughts on the two characters? I'm refraining from comparing the Lucys Carmichael and Carter for now...that's for another thread :)

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As Finding Lucy put it, My Favorite Husband allowed Lucille "to step into the voice and shoes of a character only a heartbeat away from Lucy Ricardo".

 

And it's true that Liz Cugat/Cooper was the prototype Lucy Ricardo. But there were some drastic differences between the characters, and Lucille's performances of the two really does make them distinct women. The varying mediums (radio/television) surely had something to do with such differences, but still...

 

One is hairstyle and appearance. In most publicity photos, Lucille wore her hair down for the radio show, similar to the styles she wore in the earliest I Love Lucy episodes. In any event, I always associate that down hairstyle with Liz Cooper, whereas Lucy Ricardo is most recognizable by that signature bun. Indeed, watching those early I Love Lucy episodes, I tend to see a bit more Liz than Lucy in her performance.

 

Some of the differences between the two characters are hard for me to put into words. I suppose I find Liz a bit gentler, more demure than Lucy. You could call Liz "Lucy Lite". Lucy Ricardo was a more fully formed, multi-layered and fiery version of Liz. It's fascinating to listen to the radio episodes that inspired I Love Lucy episodes to hear Lucille deliver many of the same lines, often in very different ways.

 

Take Time Budgeting, which inspired the TV episode Lucy's Schedule. In both shows, George/Ricky lay down the law and tell Liz/Lucy about her new time schedule, allowing "15 minutes for this, 15 minutes for that, 10 minutes for something else."

 

In the radio version, Liz timidly responds, "I'll need more than 10 minutes for something else." It receives a minor chuckle from the audience. In the TV version, however, Lucy boldy responds, "Oooh, I'll need more than 15 minutes for that!" It receives quite a hearty laugh from the audience. Perhaps the change in medium allowed her to play it up more, or perhaps her skill and talent had developed so sharply over the three years she did the radio show that her acting ability was simply more astute. Whatever the reason, Lucille's performances in those radio-based TV episodes almost always trump the radio counterparts, IMO.

 

Her different co-stars also undoubtedly affected how she portrayed each character. Acting opposite Richard Denning on radio, for example, never exactly gave Lucille a great amount of energy to play off of. Not that there was anything wrong with Denning's performance, but most people would probably admit that their chemistry was never exactly explosive. He was your typical, white-bread, All-American husband and business man.

 

Ricky Ricardo, however, had "salsa". Desi's fiercer energy obviously allowed Lucille to up the ante and play back with much more force in order to match her husband's power. Which, of course, resulted in Lucy Ricardo having a great deal more flare than her radio predecessor.

 

Not that such differences are a bad thing. If anything they prove Lucille's versatility as an actress, and I adore both shows equally. The radio show is great when I'm in the car, I listen to it at least once a week.

 

Any other thoughts on the two characters? I'm refraining from comparing the Lucys Carmichael and Carter for now...that's for another thread :)

Once again ...a very thoughtful, astute and informative assessment. You really rock Brian as a writer! :fabrary::lucyhehe::peachonthebeach:
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I would have to agree with UKlucyfan... I think Miss Ball wanted to enhance her income and between or during filming of her movies... did a radio show (by the way why is all of this underlined??? I didn't do this on purpose.. back to my response..).. However.. once she had a TV show and her real life husband along.. I believe she gave it her all.. In other words.. she kinda "read through" her role before and during the television show she OWNED her role...

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Having recently attended one of Gregg Oppenheimer's radio show "recreations" (reimaginings?) according to that, it was his dad Jess (if I'm recalling correctly) who suggested that the live radio audience would react to the laugh lines more if she/the cast wouldn't just stand at the mic and read their parts but act them out more -- as much as possible given they couldn't move much having to stay next to the microphone -- which turned out to be good advice given that's what she did and the rest as they say, is history. ;)

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Having recently attended one of Gregg Oppenheimer's radio show "recreations" (reimaginings?) according to that, it was his dad Jess (if I'm recalling correctly) who suggested that the live radio audience would react to the laugh lines more if she/the cast wouldn't just stand at the mic and read their parts but act them out more -- as much as possible given they couldn't move much having to stay next to the microphone -- which turned out to be good advice given that's what she did and the rest as they say, is history. ;)

 

Yes. Lucille and Bea really acted it out. Jess was the one who helped her realize the importance of playing to the audience to generate the laughs. Listen to the pre-Jess shows where Lucille pretty much just read her lines. Not nearly as many laughs during those episodes. He sent her to Jack Benny's show to help her see how effective a technique it was.

 

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Sometimes the Jell-O commercials allowed her to really cut loose. My favorite is the shipwrecked maiden one.

 

I'd love a compilation of the Jell-O commercials. My personal favourite is probably the one featuring Lucy, Gale and the rhino on safari.

 

 

:lucy1: We're not having tea today.

:gale1: ...No tea?!

:lucy1: (cheerful grumble) No tea!

 

:lucy1: ...

:gale1: : ... LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME!

:lucy1: Good show, Chumley! Good show!

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I have most of My Favorite Husband downloaded from some website. Does anybody know where to download them all?

 

I'm doubting this! Lol.

 

Some are lost. And some are mislabeled on the online sources. I've ripped all from the DVDs and got some off the radio spirits tapes before the machine broke. I need a new one. Trying to assemble the definitive collection from all the best sources.

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Some are lost. And some are mislabeled on the online sources. I've ripped all from the DVDs and got some off the radio spirits tapes before the machine broke. I need a new one. Trying to assemble the definitive collection from all the best sources.

Yeah, a few I downloaded ended up being the same one episode but said they were different. I was quite irritated. Lol. Too bad there will probably never be a release of these besides the Lucy DVDs! :(

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Some are lost. And some are mislabeled on the online sources. I've ripped all from the DVDs and got some off the radio spirits tapes before the machine broke. I need a new one. Trying to assemble the definitive collection from all the best sources.

Great idea, Brian! What if I may ask (geek squad here!) program or whatever did you use?? I have an idea how to do this but not sure the easiest way, etc.!

 

Haven't looked at Gregg's book in eons but in there (somewhere?) is there a "definitive" list of all the MFH episodes, air dates, etc? That would be a great reference tool! Thanks! :D

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Great idea, Brian! What if I may ask (geek squad here!) program or whatever did you use?? I have an idea how to do this but not sure the easiest way, etc.!

 

Haven't looked at Gregg's book in eons but in there (somewhere?) is there a "definitive" list of all the MFH episodes, air dates, etc? That would be a great reference tool! Thanks! :D

 

I did it a few years ago. I think I used DVDShrink. It was rather tough to figure out since the episodes weren't included as titles on the disc but were rather embedded into the menus themselves. I had to convert the menus to a video file then extract the audio using a different program. Took a while!

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Earlier this year I downloaded a bunch of these MFH episodes along with the ones on the ILL disk and spent a solid 2 months listening to them on my commute everyday. It was neat to hear so many in a row. I had only sporadically listened to them over the years. Lotus you are right about her really letting go in the Jello commercials. She is just wacky in some of those and you can tell she is having a blast doing them.

 

As far as Lucy’s acting goes you can see her develop and the audience let’s you know that something is going on more than just them standing at a mic. I don’t like those Cugart ones as much. The Copper change and Adaberry addition was a very good thing. Another thing that sets this very much apart from ILL is the suburban setting. There is just something about the suburbs that makes the wife role more stereotypical.

 

The Liz/George dynamic here is way different than Lucy/Ricky and Lotus you are right, much of that had to do with the “salsa”. Liz still cries, pleads, wheedles, and begs but “Lucy” has way more guts with stuff. As far as the romance on the radio, Liz and George were super lovey dovey. Tons of kissing, and the way she always asked him to hug her was cute. You also got those tag scenes when they were in bed that could not have been done on TV. I think much of the physical stuff played on radio would have been too much for the censors on TV. Despite that, what we get on screen is a much more connected couple that doesn’t overplay the romance even though it is very evident (and pretty hot in the first season). It was cute on radio but not quite real, it was real on TV, mainly because it was real off camera.

 

I’ve never seen the actual TV version of MFH. Obviously it was missing the 2 key elements of this series, Lucy and the writers. Has anyone seen it and how close to the radio version is it? Is it just the same show in name only?

 

I find it kind of ironic that for the Emmy win that is on the ILL Bonus disk Richard Denning is the one presenting ILL with best show. I think he knew that a carbon copy of the radio show on TV was not enough to make it a hit, it needed all those backstage elements to send it into #1 status, but you wonder if there was a slight bit of jealously there?

 

 

 

 

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The site I have been using to download the My Favorite Husband episodes is archieve.org. They also have a lot of other shows that Lucy did on there as well. I have noticed that some MFH are mislabeled, duplicated and some the audio is just down right crappy. Not all have the original Jello commercials either.

 

The three other main series on archieve.org that I have found Lucy on are Jack Haley, which she first did with Gale in 38’. I believe there are about 10 of these and very much worth a listen. Suspense, which they have all the episodes that she did and despite audio issues in Early to Death (it’s not too distracting) they all are good. These would have been fabulous as movies. I would have loved to see a visual take on Dime A Dance. Guess I will have to be content with the one I have in my mind.

 

The third series is Lux Radio Theatre. When I went through the list they have on their site it lists ones that Lucy was on. Some of these are accurate and worth the listen. Others say they have her on but she is nowhere to be found when you listen to the episode. I’ve cross referenced these to Jimmy’s FAQ book listings and some of them are mentioned in there. I know that some episodes were done multiple times so maybe that is what is happening on some. They might be the same name, but not the version Lucy did and it’s mislabeled. I know she is mentioned for Bachelor Mother but I can’t find her version despite the labeling that my download had her on. Are there any other sites where I can find these that actually have Lucy on?

 

I think it is neat how they can edit a movie down to 30 min or 1 hour to present them on radio. China Seas is a good one for Lucy but my favorite by far is They Drive By Night. I had to see the movie to compare her take on the role versus Ida Lupino’s. I have never come across acting like Lucy does here in anything else she did. She is quite the bitch at first and then completely loses her mind by the end of this complete with screaming, crying, and pleading that develops into full blown crazy.

 

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The site I have been using to download the My Favorite Husband episodes is archieve.org. They also have a lot of other shows that Lucy did on there as well. I have noticed that some MFH are mislabeled, duplicated and some the audio is just down right crappy. Not all have the original Jello commercials either.

 

The three other main series on archieve.org that I have found Lucy on are Jack Haley, which she first did with Gale in 38’. I believe there are about 10 of these and very much worth a listen. Suspense, which they have all the episodes that she did and despite audio issues in Early to Death (it’s not too distracting) they all are good. These would have been fabulous as movies. I would have loved to see a visual take on Dime A Dance. Guess I will have to be content with the one I have in my mind.

 

The third series is Lux Radio Theatre. When I went through the list they have on their site it lists ones that Lucy was on. Some of these are accurate and worth the listen. Others say they have her on but she is nowhere to be found when you listen to the episode. I’ve cross referenced these to Jimmy’s FAQ book listings and some of them are mentioned in there. I know that some episodes were done multiple times so maybe that is what is happening on some. They might be the same name, but not the version Lucy did and it’s mislabeled. I know she is mentioned for Bachelor Mother but I can’t find her version despite the labeling that my download had her on. Are there any other sites where I can find these that actually have Lucy on?

 

I think it is neat how they can edit a movie down to 30 min or 1 hour to present them on radio. China Seas is a good one for Lucy but my favorite by far is They Drive By Night. I had to see the movie to compare her take on the role versus Ida Lupino’s. I have never come across acting like Lucy does here in anything else she did. She is quite the bitch at first and then completely loses her mind by the end of this complete with screaming, crying, and pleading that develops into full blown crazy.

 

Yes some of the online ones are mislabeled and most are poor quality. Wherever possible I'm collecting better sources from my radio spirits tapes and the DVDs. Once I put together as compete a collection as possible I'm happy to share.

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Gregg's website, Lucylibrary.com, has a great My Favorite Husband episode guide.

http://www.lucylibra...guide.1-13.html

Oh wow, that's so cool! I forgot all about this site, had no idea it was still "active"!

Interesting how close the last ep of MFH aired to the first ILL (just six months apart, approximately)....sure was a busy time!! ;)

george-liz.gif

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