One reason I Love Lucy remains such an enduring classic is the quality of the acting. Lucille Ball went to great lengths to bring the character Lucy Ricardo to life, often pushing the boundaries of physical comedy. Lucy was energetic, silly, wacky, and willing to do wild things for a laugh. That energy captivates television audiences even now.
However, without the benefit of a stunt double to do her dirty work on I Love Lucy, the actor had some close calls along the way. Ball injured herself multiple times on set. Including the time she almost broke her nose while filming the famous candy factory episode (“Job Switching”).
Lucille Ball deeply believed in ‘I Love Lucy’
Without Ball’s influence, the iconic comedy I Love Lucy never would have happened in the first place. CBS execs were hesitant to greenlight the show, saying they didn’t believe audiences would accept a mixed-race marriage between the lead characters.
Ball insisted that her real-life husband Desi Arnaz, a Cuban American, should play the part of Ricky Ricardo. The couple had to prove their star power by taking the show on the road to prove how much audiences would love it.
As Ball predicted, I Love Lucy was an instant success. It became the most-watched show in the United States for four out of six seasons and remains one of the most well-known shows in television history. Ball’s commitment to the project helped make it into a huge success.
The actor suffered physically to make Lucy Ricardo funnier
Every I Love Lucy fan is familiar with the famous “Candy Factory” episode, which is technically called “Job Switching.” In it, Lucy and Ethel go to work on a candy factory production line and quickly become overwhelmed by their task. When the candy keeps going by too quickly, the women start stuffing candy in their mouths as the conveyer belt speeds by.
Co-star and real-life candy dipper Amanda Milligan wasn’t an I Love Lucy fan before being cast in the episode. Apparently, Arnaz saw her working at a farmer’s market and knew her solemn expression was the perfect contrast for the scene. Mental Floss reported that Ball was worried the scene wouldn’t be as funny because Milligan seemed unsure about smacking her in the face. But the newcomer pulled off the stunt perfectly.
In fact, Milligan hit ball in the face so hard Ball feared she’d broken her nose. She decided not to yell “Cut!” because she knew the take would be realistic — plus, she didn’t want to redo the scene and cause more damage to her face.
The ‘Candy Factory’ episode is 1 of the most famous ever
“Job Switching” was well worth a sore nose. It’s considered the second most famous episode of the series just behind the “Vitameatavegamin” installment. Everyone loved seeing Lucy and Ethel being so silly — except for their co-star.
Milligan famously said her stint on America’s favorite sitcom was nothing special. “I’ve never been so bored in my life,” the candy dipper said without smiling. It turns out she preferred watching wrestling on Monday nights instead of I Love Lucy.
Ultimately, her deadpan performance helped make the episode even more hilarious.