1953 January 19

“Lucy Goes to the Hospital” – Just Doesn’t Say Why


Lucille Ball, star of the popular TV series, I Love Lucy, was in fact pregnant, and her pregnancy and birth were incorporated into the popular television show. She went to the hospital to give birth to their child. The word “pregnant” was never mentioned on the show, however, and this episode did not explain exactly why Lucy went to the hospital. This was just one notable example of the repression of candid discussions of sexuality and pregnancy in the 1950s. For this show, 71.7% of all American televisions tuned in, topping the 67.7% for President Eisenhower’s inauguration the next day.

Lucille Ball also had an encounter with the House Un-American Activities Committee on September 4, 1953 over her alleged left-wing political views. She was never subjected to the embarrassing ritual of a public hearing, however. Apparently, HUAC was afraid of challenging such a popular television star.

Television standards regarding sexuality on television changed dramatically by the 1970s, as the book Wallowing in Sex, cited below, explains.

Watch Excerpts from the show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUXK6cP7QwE

Learn more about Lucy: Stefan Kanfer, Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball (2003)

How television changed: Elana Levine, Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television (2007)

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