(Miriam Di Nunzio’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 8/4; thanks, Steve.)

“God wanted the world to laugh and He invented you.”

— Sammy Davis Jr., speaking to Lucille Ball at a 1984 tribute in her honor

Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel.

Perhaps the most iconic foursome in pop culture history this side of John, Paul, George and Ringo. But unlike the very real Beatles, the aforementioned foursome was quite fictional — characters from a long-ago television show that would enchant generations of viewers.

The world fell in love with Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Fred and Ethel Mertz beginning in 1951 with the premiere of “I Love Lucy,” a half-hour sitcom that starred Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley and Lucille Ball, who would parlay her TV alter ego into one of the greatest comedic characters of all time.


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