The Dark Side of Lucy Ricardo | HumorOutcasts

The Dark Side of Lucy Ricardo

November 15, 2013

I enjoyed a recent Post  by columnist  Dr. Nancy Berk entitled  I Love Lucy and the Family Legacy of Nostalgic TV.  I want to state for the record that I love  I Love Lucy. It is one of my favorite all-time shows, so I was tickled pink to read this fine column.

But I think there is another side to Lucy that few people want to address. Sure, Lucy displays traits of intelligence, humor and loyalty.  Who can forget that infamous line when she thinks Ethel is Madame X the burglar and she is wrestling with her on the couch begging her to give up her life of crime: “Ethel, if it’s money you need, I’ll pay you what I owe you.”  That is indeed a testament to true friendship.  So, what is the other side to Lucy to which no one admits?    Lucy is a criminal.

If there was any chick who deserved to do serious jail time it was Lucy Ricardo. Technically, Ethel Mertz should have served some years in the big house too for being an accomplice, but I think any judge would have conceded that she was under duress during most of the capers. And these were not local, penny ante misdemeanors which would get someone an orange jumpsuit and a day of  cleaning trash off highways. No, we are talking major felonies that became federal crimes because they crossed state borders.   Let’s look at the facts:

Lucy wants to be cast in Ricky’s show as a dancer.  What‘s so bad about that?  Well, she does go to great lengths to get this part. She starves herself into a size 12 (yes, it’s apparent a then size 12 is far different from today’s size 12 which is probably now a size 2, but we will address that whole issue some other time).  In order to dance in that one song, she ambushes the poor actress already cast in the role, ties her up, gags her and throws her in a locked closet.  She is found after the show is over and no charges are ever filed. We don’t even hear a mention of a lawsuit in subsequent episodes.  For those keeping track, we have assault, kidnapping and maybe even attempted murder because if that poor girl wasn’t found that night, she might have died by regurgitating on her own vomit.  Hey, I watch Criminal Minds.

Let’s head to Hollywood:

Lucy and Ethel use a crow bar to pry John Wayne’s footprints out of the ground at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Even back then, that concrete slab had to be worth mega bucks. So we have trespassing, destruction of private property, grand larceny and the use of that  crow bar might meet the requirements for armed robbery.  Any jail time? Nope. This is a case where Ricky’s connections saved her from a day in court.  Somehow, the “Duke” found her charming and helped them replace the concrete slab not once but three times.

Lucy sneaks into Cornel Wilde’s hotel room and Richard Widmark’s house so she can look around and get souvenirs.  Now we have hit the mother lode:  Trespassing, burglary and the federal crime of stalking.  There should have been about 100 restraining orders with her name on it in Hollywood alone, but did any of these stars file a lawsuit or a police complaint?

Lucy did what she wanted and never had to pay the consequences and in the end Ricky loved her even more.  If that is not the most bizarre marriage, I don’t know what is. How did social services not come for Little Ricky?  Dear God, the way they dumped that kid on poor Mrs. Trumble or Mrs. McGillicuddy for such long stretches of time, there should have been charges of abandonment.

Okay, I will stop picking on Lucy, because as I said, for some odd reason, I still love her, but the next time I need a new hat and my husband says we can’t afford it, I might have to resort to some Lucy tactics too.  If you don’t hear from me, just assume I’m serving 10 to 20 in the women’s state prison. I wonder if anyone from Hollywood will bail me out.

Donna Cavanagh

Donna Cavanagh is founder of (HO) and the partner publishing company, HumorOutcasts Press which now includes the labels Shorehouse Books and Corner Office Books ( As "den mother" to the more than 100 aspiring and accomplished writers, producers, comics and authors, Cavanagh's goal is to allow creativity to flow. She is a former journalist who made an unscheduled stop into humor more than 20 years ago. Her syndicated columns helped her gain a national audience when her work landed in the pages of First Magazine and USA Today. She teaches the how-to lessons of humor and publishing at conferences and workshops throughout the country including The Philadelphia Writers' Conference and Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. The author of four humor books, Cavanagh hopes her latest book, How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans, will encourage writers not only to embrace their humor talents but show them off as well.

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15 Responses to The Dark Side of Lucy Ricardo

  1. November 19, 2013 at 7:18 am

    You know, every time I hear about media getting blamed for all the crime in this world, I wonder, can it be true? And now, after reading this post, I think Lucy must have been the renegade who started it all.

  2. November 17, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Hmm… bull in a china shop, yes, but isn’t humor often about extremes and turning simple life events on their heads? Mel Brooks comes to mind. Lucy did a great job at both, and you’ve captured it beautifully!

    • November 17, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Turning daily life into extremes is how I do my job! Thanks Mary!

  3. November 17, 2013 at 12:48 am

    It seems to me this also says a lot about Ricky’s sanity.

    • November 17, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Good point. It’s no wonder he didn’t go back to Cuba

  4. Bill Y Ledden
    November 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I don’t remember anything so to me, this was the first time I’ve ever heard of Lucy. She seems like someone I would really get on with. I like her lack of principles and her size 12!

    • November 17, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Dublin does not get I love Lucy reruns! Oh, sir, you must start a petition! Her antics would be greatly appreciated by Bill Y Ledden. The show was off for years by the time I was born, but still her comedy was considered classic for many generations!

  5. Kathy Minicozzi
    November 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    You forgot the episode where Lucy and Ricky sublet their apartment for a month to a poor man who had been a witness in a murder trial and who needed to rest his nerves. Ricky’s out of town engagement is then canceled, and instead of just sucking it up and staying with the Mertzes for a month, they go to elaborate lengths to frighten the poor guy who is already on the verge of a breakdown, in order to get him to move out.

    Lucille Ball’s genius was in the performance of the comedy. The one who came up with most of the original ideas, though, was Desi Arnaz. She couldn’t come up with them easily. So he was the creative genius behind most of those antics.

    • November 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      I actually had that in Kathy, but I like to keep my work under 700 words if possible so some stuff has to go. Actually, it was Vivian Vance who was credited by both Lucy and Desi for much of the chemistry and timing. Her expertise allowed Lucy to shine. Unfortunately, it almost cost her her sanity.

  6. Deb Martin-Webster
    November 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Wow, I never realized Lucy was a straight up bad ass. Sounds like she and Ethel were the Original Real Housewives of New York!! Great post Donna!

    • November 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks Deb! Sort of the Thelma and Louise of the upper east side.

  7. November 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I wish I’d written this Donna! Hysterical and yet, fact based. Lucy was a gem. Thanks for this one and for the shout out. ~nancy

    • November 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks for being the muse! Yours was a much finer post. Mine was just snarky. LOL

  8. November 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Great post, Donna! My feeling upon looking back at I Love Lucy was that in reality Lucy represented the United States and its cavalier attitude toward the rest of the world. Like the U.S., she shared a sense of entitlement with regard to how she interacted with others, often oblivious to criticism, ignorant and disdainful of non western religious or cultural beliefs and practices and acting like a bull in a china shop Either that or it was a sitcom about a married woman with the self control of a four year old. I can’t really remember; it was on a long, long time ago. 🙂

    • November 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      wow you really thought that through. I found her on Channel 5 in NY and I would watch her getting ready for school. The shows were already 25 years old those shows by then but I just saw her comic genius. But more than her, I admired Vivian Vance who was the best straight woman in the business.

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