(NEW YORK) -- The classic TV series I Love Lucy celebrates its 60th anniversary on Saturday. The show made its debut on Oct. 15, 1951.
I Love Lucy aired a total of 179 half-hour episodes in six seasons on CBS, followed by three years of occasional hour-long specials. The series then aired on CBS daytime before moving into worldwide syndication.
The half-hour sitcom never ranked lower than third in the Nielsen ratings during its run, and a 1953 episode in which Lucille Ball's Lucy Ricardo has a baby still ranks as Nielsen's highest-rated episode in television history.
Jess Oppenheimer was the creator, head writer, and producer of the show, and his son Gregg grew up around the set. Gregg tells ABC News Radio today’s shows use 15 writers and as many as eight producers to create 22 episodes a year, but I Love Lucy was able to churn out 40 episodes in 40 weeks with three writers and just one producer.
The comedy starred Ball and real-life husband Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Vivian Vance and William Frawley portrayed their neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz.
Oppenheimer says the show worked for many reasons, but the main one was Ball, because she was a beautiful actress who was willing to do zany slapstick comedy, including putting chocolate all over her face and stomping grapes in a vat.
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