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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 19, 1953

January 2016 has been a bit of a downer month in pop culture.  In just the first nineteen days of the year, we've lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Dan Haggerty, and now we've lost Glenn Frey, who passed away yesterday at the age of 67.

And yes, I'll probably be writing a blog about him at some point this week.

For now, I have a Tuesday Timeline entry that I started writing beforehand...and let's just say that this one celebrates the birth of a rather famous television baby.  But that's all that you'll get from me!

In the meantime, let's see all of the things that happened on January 19, shall we?

1661 - Thomas Venner is hanged, drawn, and quartered in London

1817 - Led by General Jose de San Martin, an army comprised of 5,423 soldiers cross the Andes from Argentina to liberate both Chile and Peru

1861 - Georgia becomes the latest state to secede from the United States, following South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama

1862 - The Battle of Mill Springs takes place

1883 - The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires begins service in Roselle, New Jersey

1915 - 20 people lose their lives when German zeppelins bomb two towns in the United Kingdom - King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth

1917 - A munitions plant in London explodes, killing seventy-three, and injuring 400

1923 - Actress Jean Stapleton (d. 2013) is born in Manhattan, New York City

1935 - Coopers Inc. begins selling Y-front Jockey briefs

1937 - Howard Hughes sets a record by flying from Los Angeles to New York City in a time of seven hours, twenty-eight minutes, and twenty-five seconds

1939 - Singer Phil Everly (d. 2014) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1942 - Japanese forces invade Burma during World War II

1943 - Singer/songwriter Janis Joplin (d. 1970) is born in Port Arthur, Texas

1949 - Singer Robert Palmer (d. 2003) is born in Batley, West Yorkshire, England

1958 - American artist Thomas Kinkade (d. 2012) is born in Sacramento, California

1969 - Jan Palich - a student from Prague - dies three days after setting himself on fire in Wencelas Square to protest about the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in 1968

1977 - Gerald Ford grants a pardon to Iva Toguri D'Aquino - otherwise known as "Tokyo Rose"

1978 - The last Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany leaves the Emden plant

1981 - The United States and Iran sign an agreement to release fifty-two American hostages after being held captive for fourteen months, signifying the end of the Iran Hostage Crisis

1983 - The Apple Lisa is announced

1986 - The first IBM computer virus is released

1997 - The voice of Snow White - Adriana Caselotti - dies at the age of 80

2006 - Singer-songwriter Wilson Pickett dies, aged 64

2012 - The Hong Kong based file sharing site Megaupload is shut down by the FBI

2015 - Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride passes away, aged 60

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one year older; Fritz Weaver, Tippi Hedren, Robert MacNeil, Pat Patterson, Michael Crawford, Shelley Fabares, Dolly Parton, Paula Deen, Katey Sagal, Paul Rodriguez, Carman, Jeff Pilson, William Ragsdale, Martin Bashir, Caron Wheeler, Sylvain Cote, Whitfield Crane, Casey Sherman, Shawn Wayans, John Wozniak, Drea de Matteo, Frank Caliendo, Benjamin Ayres, Luke Macfarlane, Bitsie Tulloch, Jodie Sweetin, Erin Sanders, Logan Lerman, Mac Miller, and Gus Lewis.

And today's date we're flashing back to?  January 19, 1953.

Let's just say that if you were one of the lucky people to have a television set during that time period, you and 72% of the American people probably watched a historic moment take place on the small screen.

Sadly, my parents never got to see this moment take place.  My mom's family didn't get a television until 1956, and my dad's family was much later than that, I think. 

But if you did have a television set in 1953, your choices were extremely limited.  I think we're quite spoiled now, given that we have over a thousand television channels at our disposal, including those online services such as Netflix, Shomi, Crave TV, and Hulu.  Back then, there was ABC, CBS, NBC...and I think that was all that was available.  And might I add that it was black and white only?

That being said, 72% of all television sets were tuned into "I Love Lucy" on the night of January 19, 1953.  Why was this the case?

Well, it was the episode in which Lucy Ricardo (played by Lucille Ball, of course) gives birth to her son, Ricky Ricardo, Jr.  It is the very first time that a sitcom character ever gave birth on a television show, and the first time that a sitcom character was ever shown carrying a baby.

Now, these days, you don't see births as being that big of a deal.  On "Full House", Becky gave birth to twins.  On "Friends", Phoebe gave birth to triplets.  And on "The Simpsons", Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon gave birth to octuplets!

(Okay, the last one is a cartoon, but work with me here.)

Back in the 1950s, women were not allowed to be shown pregnant.  Heck, network censors at the time refused to let anyone even mention the word "pregnant", given the fact that they felt it inappropriate to talk about!  Boy, have we come a long way from that!

So, when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz announced that she was preg...ahem...expecting a child at the end of season one, the producers and writers were concerned because they knew that Ball would begin showing right when they were starting to film season two.  Could the show go on?

Well, it's a good thing that Lucille Ball didn't have any hang-ups about it all, because she, along with the rest of the production crew, decided the show must go on, and the pregnancy was written into the show with Lucy carrying Ricky's child.

By the way, the episode in which Lucy announces the pregnancy is entitled "Lucy is Enceinte".  Enceinte is French for pregnant.  Nice way to get through the censors there, Ms. Ball!  And the way the Lucy reveals the news to Ricky is by requesting the song "She's Having My Baby" anonymously to a singing Ricky!  You can click HERE to watch the moment.  It's very sweet.

That announcement was made in October 1952.  Three months later, on January 19, 1953, the episode "Lucy Goes To The Hospital" aired on CBS, and it was the episode where Lucy gives birth.

And what a hysterical episode it was at that, filled with a comedy of errors that nearly resulted in Lucy nearly giving birth at home!  Let's put it this way, watching THIS CLIP will make you realize that trusting Ricky and the Mertzes to take you to the hospital while you are in labor is probably not the most sound judgment call you can make.

But Lucy makes it to the hospital just in time to give birth to Little Ricky Ricardo.  And, at that time it was the most watched television broadcast ever. 

However, I'm just going to go out on a limb here and state that I know at least two people who didn't watch that episode.  Those two people were Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

You see, the same day that episode aired, Lucille Ball gave birth for real.  And much like her fictional child, Lucille gave birth to a baby boy, Desi Arnaz, Jr.  He was the second child born to Lucille and Desi (older sister Lucie was born in 1951), and I imagine that it had to have been a wacky coincidence to have the episode air on Little Desi's birthday!

Of course, Little Ricky was played by child actor Keith Thibodeaux - who as of this writing is the only cast member from the show still alive.  He turned 65 this past December 1 and now works as a musician.

But that's not to say that Desi Arnaz Jr. didn't follow in his parents footsteps.  He too started an acting career, with his first role being in the 1968 sitcom "Here's Lucy" along with his mother and sister.  He was also the drummer in the band "Dino, Desi, & Billy.  And while he has mostly kept out of the public eye in recent years, at 63, he is still going strong, and I am sure that he still holds the love that his mother and father gave him close to his heart today.

Happy birthday, Desi Arnaz Jr...and happy birthday, Little Ricky!

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