Life with Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball. It ran for one season on ABC from September 20 to November 15, 1986. Only 8 out of the 13 ordered episodes were filmed before ABC cancelled the series. Unlike Ball's previous sitcoms, Life with Lucy was critically panned and a ratings flop. In 2002, "TV Guide" named Life with Lucy the twenty-sixth worst TV series of all time.
Ball played a widowed grandmother who had inherited her husband's half-interest in a hardware store in South Pasadena, California, the other half being owned by his partner, widower Curtis McGibbon (played by Gale Gordon). Lucy's character insisted on "helping" in the store, even though when her husband was alive she had taken no part in the business and hence knew nothing about it. The unlikely partners were also in-laws, her daughter being married to his son, and all of them, along with their young grandchildren, lived together.
During the 1984-85 television season, NBC had experienced a huge success with its Bill Cosby comeback vehicle The Cosby Show and ABC, looking to stage a similar resurgence for an old sitcom star and to boost Saturday night ratings, decided to try for the greatest sitcom star of all time- then 75-year-old four-time Emmy award winner and cultural icon Lucille Ball. TV production giant Aaron Spelling had been talking with Ball and her second husband Gary Morton since 1979 about possibly doing another series. Ball was hesitant, but was given complete control over the series.
ABC offered Ball the writers from the huge hit M*A*S*H, but Ball insisted on her longtime writers Bob Carrol Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Martin Davis, who had been writing for Ball since her 1947 radio show My Favorite Husband. They had written over 500 television and radio episodes for Ball, plus the occasional TV special and feature film. Ball called in crew members who had been working for her since the days of I Love Lucy. The most notable around the set was sound man Cam McCulloch, who had worked on I Love Lucy starting with its third season and by 1986 was 77 years old and quite hard of hearing. Ball also insisted on coaxing four-time Emmy nominee and sitcom veteran Gale Gordon out of Palm Springs retirement. Gordon had worked with Ball on Jack Haley's radio show and more consistently on My Favorite Husband. He was the first choice for the character of Fred Mertz and had guest starred on I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour before becoming a main cast member on The Lucy Show in its second season and acting on all six seasons of Here's Lucy.
Gordon was only drawn to the show with the promise of a full season's pay for all 22 episodes regardless of whether the show lasted. According to cast and crew members, the then 80-year-old Gale Gordon never once flubbed a line on the set during the 13-episode duration. Ball was allegedly paid $100,000 an episode and husband Gary Morton, carrying the title of Executive Producer, negotiated for $150,000 an episode. The pilot was sent through without network interference or even test screenings. Many people involved believed the show would be a ratings smash, award winner, and run for many years just as Ball had proven for nearly 25 years in the past.
The show's theme song was performed by Eydie Gorme. Apparently an alternate theme was written and performed by Ball's daughter, Lucie Arnaz.