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1990s / I Love Lucy Pilot Episode Rediscovered
I Love Lucy was the first American sitcom to be shot and preserved on 35-mm film, thus ensuring every episode could be shown forever in reruns. However, the pilot episode had mysteriously vanished after it had aired in 1951. For nearly four decades it could not be located, much to the frustration of the show's devoted fans. In 1990, the widow of Pepito Perez, a Spanish clown who had appeared in the pilot episode, announced the good news: She had found the missing episode while dusting under a bed in her home! Apparently Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had given the only existing copy of the episode to her late husband as a thank-you gift--and quickly forgot about it. It had sat undisturbed in Perez's home for nearly 40 years. Perez had died in 1975. Both Lucy and Desi had also died by the time the pilot episode had been rediscovered. With only a slight bit of restoration needed to the film, CBS aired it as part of an I Love Lucy retrospective on April 30, 1990. Some notable differences in the pilot from the rest of the series: Lucy and Ricky's last name was Lopez instead of Ricardo; their apartment was markedly different; and landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz were nowhere to be seen. Lucy was quite obviously wearing maternity clothes in the pilot, although no mention was made of her pregnancy. The child in the womb was Lucy Arnaz--who hosted the 1990 retrospective show.