Sixty years ago today the I Love Lucy episode entitled, “Lucy is Enceinte” aired. Quoting Wikipedia:
Later, during the second season, Lucy was pregnant again with second child Desi Arnaz, Jr., and this time the pregnancy was incorporated into the series’ storyline. Despite popular belief, Lucy’s pregnancy was not television’s first on-screen pregnancy. That distinction belongs to Mary Kay on the late 1940s sitcom Mary Kay and Johnny.
CBS would not allow I Love Lucy to use the word “pregnant”, so “expecting” was used instead. The episode “Lucy Is Enceinte” first aired on December 8, 1952 (“enceinte” being French for “expecting” or “pregnant”)….
“Lucy Goes to the Hospital” was watched by more people than any other television program up to that time, with 71.7% of all American television sets tuned in, topping the 67.7 rating for Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration coverage the following morning.
Here’s the clip of the announcement. The little tag at the end is sweet…
More from Time:
It’s a testament to Lucille Ball’s clout that she managed to convince CBS executives – along with corporate sponsor Phillip Morris – to write her real-life pregnancy into the show’s plot in 1952, especially considering the industry’s priggish use of twin beds for married couples. The network’s bigwigs were so nervous about the idea that members of the clergy were brought in to oversee the writing of the seven episodes that mentioned Ball’s pregnancy, while the word “pregnancy” itself was banned from the script in favor of “expecting.”
Ball did such a thorough job of intertwining reality and the show that she even scheduled the caesarean delivery to correspond with the airing of the episode in which her on-air persona gives birth; it remains one of the most viewed telecasts in history.
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