Ethel’s home town

Ethel’s Home Town – I Love Lucy season 4, episode 113, originally aired 1/31/1955

Ethel's Home Town - in her father's house, Ethel (the big star) poses for photos in an Indian headdress
in her father’s house, Ethel (the big star) poses for photos in an Indian headdress

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the funniest episodes of the entire series.  In a nutshell, Ricky, Lucy, Fred and Ethel stop in at Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit Ethel’s father.  When they arrive, Ethel’s father (and the entire town) are under the impression that it is Ethel that is going to Hollywood to star in a movie … and Ethel is in no hurry to correct the impression.

Ethel's home town - while Ethel sings Shortening Bread, Lucy, Ricky and Fred clown around behind her with the audience erupting in laughter, with Ethel being unaware

While Ethel is being the toast of the town, Ricky, Lucy and Fred are totally left out and ignored.  When Ethel is invited to put on a one-woman show that night, the others are ready to leave without her … until Lucy convinces them that they need to stand behind Ethel at the theater that night – literally.

Ethel's Home Town - behind Ethel, Desi Arnaz demonstrate the meaning of man-eating tiger

When Ethel puts on her singing show (showcasing Vivian Vance’s singing talent very nicely), Ricky, Lucy and Fred steal the show, onstage behind Ethel, doing a variety of old clown jokes that cracked me up so badly I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.  This episode is available on the DVD of I Love Lucy season 4.

Funny quotes from Ethel’s Home Town – I Love Lucy

Mr. Potter: Well, how come you’re on your way to Hollywood to star in a movie?
Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance): Uh …
Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz): Star in a movie?
Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance): Uh, Daddy, you misunderstood.  Ricky’s going to be in the picture.
Mr. Potter: Oh are you gonna be in it, too?
Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz): Well, I wouldn’t exactly put it that way.
Mr. Potter: Oh, now don’t worry.  If Ethel says you’re gonna be in her picture, you’re gonna be in her picture!

Fred Mertz (William Frawley): With all of those bees buzzing around Ethel, how come I got stung?

Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) [referring to Ethel]: Here comes our little shrinking violet.
Fred Mertz (William Frawley): Yeah, the little shrinker.

Billy Hackett: Why, Ethel Mae, you’ve never looked prettier.
Fred Mertz (William Frawley) [aside to Lucy]: That’s for sure.

Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance): And what with one thing and another there just wasn’t room for all of you.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): [Laughs, mocking Ethel’s haughtiness] phoof phoof phoof phoof phoof phoof phoof phoof! You know, you might have insisted we be in the show.
Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance): Yes, I could have…but I didn’t want to.

Mr. Potter: They’re naming her an Indian chief.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): What’s her name? Big Chief Hog It All?

Fred Mertz (William Frawley): She’s big everywhere!

Mr. Potter: Ethel Mae Potter, we never forgot her!

Trivia for Ethel’s Home Town – I Love Lucy

  • In this episode, Ethel’s middle name is Mae.  But it other episodes it is either Louise or Roberta (Vivian Vance’s real middle name).
  • Like Ethel Mae Potter, Vivian Vance’s hometown is Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Also, like Ethel Mae, Vivian Vance began her acting career at the Albuquerque Little Theatre.
  • Irving Bacon, who plays Ethel’s father, was born in 1901; Vivian Vance was born in 1909, and William Frawley was born in 1887.  This makes Fred 18 years older than his own father-in-law, and Ethel only 8 years younger than her own father.
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