Desilu Studios is devoted to the TV series. It is home of original props, costumes, memorabilia and more. Inside, you’ll also find complete re-creations of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s New York City apartment and the Hollywood hotel suite where Lucy pantomimed with Harpo Marx and set her nose on fire with William Holden! You’ll also find an interactive Vitameatavegamin set, a screening area, and showcases filled with vintage memorabilia as well as costumes that were worn on the show.
I Love Lucy Sets
Desilu Studios is the permanent home of the “I Love Lucy” 50th Anniversary Tour Sets that traveled the country in 2001-2002 to celebrate the most popular show ever on television. Exhibited at convention centers, state fairs, music festivals, casinos, and more, it featured exact reproductions of the original sets. Following the tour, the exhibit was stored in Houston, Texas until it was moved to Jamestown, NY. This acquisition, and its installation as a significant attraction, was made possible by funding from William and Mary Rapaport.
In the summer of 2005, five 53’ tractor trailers moved the exhibit to ’s hometown, where it was installed and named Desilu ”Playhouse” after the studio that was rented at 847 Lillian Way in Hollywood to film the first few seasons of “I Love Lucy”. In 2012, the production-focused portion of the Jamestown attraction was renamed “Desilu Studios.” We hope your visit will make you feel like you were a part of the studio action!
I Love Lucy Displays & Exhibits
My Favorite Husband Radio Studio Set: When CBS asked Lucille Ball to bring her wildly popular radio program, My Favorite Husband, to the new medium of television, she agreed–as long as her real life husband, , could play her television husband. Desi was traveling the country most of the year with his popular Latin band, making it difficult for the Arnazes to achieve their dream of starting a family. CBS declined, believing that the public would not accept this “mixed marriage” of an all-American woman to a Cuban with a heavy accent–despite the fact that the couple had in fact been married for several years. With this one-of-a-kind exhibit, you can pick up the headsets and listen to excerpts from this radio show!
“I Love Lucy” Episode #6–“The Audition”: To prove to CBS that the American public would accept them, Lucy and Desi created a vaudeville show that they took on the road in 1950. In one of their touring skits, Lucy plays “The Professor,” trying to break into act with an audition on her special cello. After six months of tremendously positive live audience response, Lucy and Desi produced a pilot episode and CBS agreed to Desi’s playing Lucy’s husband. “The Professor” skit was part of the pilot as well as “I Love Lucy” episode #6, “The Audition.”
CBS Columbia Square Studio A Door: In 1949, after being converted into a television studio from a radio studio, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used Studio A for their first TV appearance together, on The Ed Wynn Show. They would return in 1951 to produce a pilot for a new show they were working on, I Love Lucy. Many Hollywood stars of the time (including the cast of I Love Lucy) would step foot through this very door, including Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Gregory Peck, and Red Skelton to name a few.
623 East 68th Street, The New York Apartment: This was Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s apartment after the birth of Little Ricky. Their first apartment, which did not have a window over the piano in the living room, was too small for the three of them, so they moved upstairs to a larger apartment (episode #61, “Ricardos Change Apartments”). Extensive research went into recreating the sets you see here. Hollywood prop houses were scoured to find exact replicas of the props, from kitchen items to lamps. (With the Hollywood tradition of recycling props, it is possible that some of our items may have been part of the original show!) Where none existed, new items were created, such as the upholstered furniture and Oriental figurines seen on the mantle.
Artifacts: Among the costumes and props on display from “I Love Lucy” are the original cello and professor costume from the show’s pilot and episode 6, “The Audition,” as well as a 13-piece clown outfit and a lion tamer ensemble worn by Pepito, the Spanish Clown in episode 52, “Lucy’s Show Biz Swan Song.”
Beverly Palms Hollywood Hotel: When Ricky was cast in the motion picture Don Juan, he took the whole gang (Lucy, Fred, Ethel, Little Ricky, and his mother-in-law) to Hollywood with him. During this period from 1955-56, the Ricardos lived in the Beverly Palms Hotel. It was on this set that Lucy burned her nose while meeting William Holden. Harpo Marx also re-enacted one of his most famous movie scenes here with Lucy, in what later became one of her favorite episodes, #124, “Harpo Marx.”
Wall Mural: Enlarged from a 4×5” image, this wall shows the studio audience at a taping of “I Love Lucy.” Desi Arnaz can be seen (back to camera) “warming up” the audience, and both Lucy and Desi’s mothers are in the top row near the center.
“3-Headed Monster”: Lost for years, this is the custom-made editing machine known as the “three headed monster” that film editor used to edit the most popular show ever on television.
Episode #30, “Lucy Does a TV Commercial”: do you pop out at parties? Don’t be tired and listless or unpopular! This hands-on exhibit allows all “Vitameatavegamin” lovers to give it a try. The dialogue is in front of you. Here you can amuse your fellow visitors with your own version of “Vitameatavegamin.”
Live Like Lucy! Bedroom Set: An example of the popularity of the First Couple of Comedy, the “I Love Lucy” bedroom set seen here was advertised in Life magazine in 1953 for $198.00. Purchased in 1953 by Gladys Viola Bladys of Springville, New York, this set was donated to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center by her son, Don Bladys, in 2004.