DATELINE: Down Memory Lane
When a friend bet me that the funniest TV show ever was on Amazon Prime, we could not resist to ask what it might be: she told us it was the old Lucy show with William Holden as guest.
Of course, we remembered it instantly, so indelible was its memory. It had to be fifty years since last we saw it on some endless loop of reruns that the show enjoyed for decades.
And, there it was listed as a 1954 episode on the third season of I Love Lucy. Free on Amazon Prime.
For those youngsters who have missed the wacky moment of one of the biggest stars of the 1950s showing up on a half-hour sit-com, it was something special back then. Holden was big.
William Holden had worked with Lucille Ball several times over the years earlier in their careers—and were good friends off-screen too.
So, his appearance was anticipated as much as John Wayne or Richard Widmark, who also did guest appearances that season—but Bill Holden’s was distinctive and truly the epitome of the crazy red-head’s “Hollywood adventures” when she went with her husband Ricky Ricardo for three months that year into celebrity heaven.
Her encounter with Holden at the Brown Derby restaurant turned into a spaghetti fiasco, with Holden winning a staring contest with the adoring fan. Upon embarrassment, Lucy beat a hasty retreat out of the restaurant, but knocked a waiter with a tray of cream pastry into William Holden.
Later, Lucy’s husband (Desi Arnaz) brings home a surprise guest—none other than Holden. Lucy must don a disguise to avoid recognition. Her putty nose astounds as it twists one way and then another, ultimately aflame up when Holden tries to light her cigarette.
Yes, we counted about a dozen goodly guffaws, even years after knowing what was about to happen.
We can envy anyone who is about to see this little laugh-fest for the first time. Other episodes have been celebrated, but this Lucy episode was the one we truly loved.