This Was Television On January 19

1953: Lucy goes to the hospital

Fiction and reality have seldom been more intertwined on TV than when Lucille Ball and her sitcom alter-ego, Lucy Ricardo, both gave birth on the same day. Ball’s real-life pregnancy was incorporated by I Love Lucy‘s second season, culminating in episode 16, “Lucy Goes to the Hospital.” Though filmed the previous November, its airdate was chosen to coincide with Ball’s cesarean section. Thus both Desi Arnaz, Jr. and little Ricky Ricardo, Jr. came into the world on the same day, in one of the most heavily publicized TV events of the era. “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” set a ratings record, its 44 million viewers representing a whopping 72% of the TV-equipped homes in America—exceeding the audience for the inauguration of President Eisenhower the following day. -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Paula Deen, chef (66); Drea de Matteo, moll (41); Shelley Fabares, coach’s Mrs. (69); Guy Madison, Marshal (d. 1996); William Ragsdale, headcase (52); Katey Sagal, married… (59); Jean Stapleton, dingbat (90); Jodie Sweetin, middle sister (31); Fritz Weaver, character actor (87).

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