The Ballet – I Love Lucy season 1, episode 19, originally aired February 18, 1952
The Ballet is one of my all-time favorite I Love Lucy episodes. It begins like so many of the first season I Love Lucy, with Ricky needing some acts at the club, and Lucy wanting to be part of the show. This time, Ricky needs a burlesque comic and a ballet dancer. Lucy, of course, thinks that her old dance recital experience qualifies her as a ballet dancer, and even takes ballet lessons. This leads into one of the funniest moments in the entire I Love Lucy series with Lucy trying to keep up with the other ballet artists, and the well-known routine where Lucy gets first her foot, then her leg, then her entire body stuck on the bar (or ‘barre’ ) that ballet dancers use for practice.
Since she’s a failure at ballet, Lucy hires a professional clown to teach her a burlesque routine. In this case, it’s the Slowly I Turned routine made famous by the Three Stooges. In the routine, a tramp clown assaults anyone who says a key word or phrase that reminds him of the ruin of his happy home. For the Three Stooges, it was “Niagara Falls,” for Abbott and Costello is was “Poko Moko” and for this routine with Lucy it was “Martha” – the name of the tramp’s wife. As always, the ‘Slowly I Turned’ routine is hilarious, resulting in Lucy being hit with a pillow, sprayed by a seltzer bottle, and finally hit in the face with a pie! Only to have Ethel phone and say that Ricky has already booked the burlesque act!
That night, Lucy is at home while Fred and Ethel are at the club, and overhears that the dancer is unexpectedly unavailable. Ethel promptly calls Lucy and informs her that she can fill in at the club! Unfortunately for Lucy, she thinks that it’s the burlesque act that’s needed, and shows up in her clown outfit. With Ricky singing ‘Marta’, every time that Lucy hears ‘Martha’ she assaults one of the other performers with her pillow, seltzer bottle, and at the conclusion of the act, hits Ricky in the face with a pie!
At home, Ricky gets even, and he and Lucy kiss and make up.
Trivia from “The Ballet” – I Love Lucy season 1
- Although the I Love Lucy show was painstakingly written and rehearsed, occasional ad-libbing occurred. Some people believe that one example was when Lucy really got her foot stuck in the ballet practice bar. However, it is in the script.
- This was Mary Wickes’ first appearance with Lucille Ball, but far from her last. She and Lucille Ball eventually became good friends, as well.
- Lucy performs the “Slowly I Turned” routine made famous by the Three Stooges.
Funny quotes from The Ballet – I Love Lucy season 1
Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz): [speaking about Lucy] What am I going to do about her?
Fred Mertz (William Frawley): Have you ever thought of putting her in a large basket and leaving her on somebody’s doorstep?
Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz): That wouldn’t work. She’s too smart. She’d find her way home.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): Here I am with all this talent bottled up inside of me, and you’re always sitting on the cork.
Madame Lemond: I think we should go to the barre.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): Oh good, cause I’m awful thirsty.
Burlesque Comic: [to Lucy] Say, you’re a nice looking fella.
Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) [to Lucy] You’ll do for the comic, but what will I do about the ballet dancer?
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): I was in a dance recital in high school, The Dance of The Flowers.
Fred Mertz (William Frawley): She has got nice stems.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): Thank you. I was the only petunia to do a solo.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): I’m going to get in that show if it’s the last thing I do.
Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance): Lucy, you’re too young to die.