Several changes occurred in the I Love Lucy
format during the series sixth and final season on the air. For one thing, little Richard Keith
, a talented six-year-old drummer, was cast in the role of Little Ricky, the son of Cuban bandleader Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz
) and his wacky wife Lucy (Lucille Ball
) (the character had previously been played by uncredited infants). For another, Ricky had quit his job at New York's Tropicana Club and opened his own nitery, the Club Babalu. With more money coming into the Ricardo household, Lucy and Ricky decide to leave New York City and move into an attractively appointed ranch house in suburban Connecticut. Not surprisingly, the Ricardos' longtime friends Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley
and Vivian Vance
) likewise make the big move to the 'burbs. The change of locale also permits the introduction of two new characters, the Ricardos' next-door neighbors Ralph and Betty Ramsey (Frank Nelson
, Mary Jane Croft
). Despite the scenery shifting, I Love Lucy
still delivers laughs in its classic, time-tested manner with Lucy hatching zany schemes and getting her family and friends knotted up in a variety of ridiculous situations. One episode, "Lucy Raises Chickens," features the longest sustained audience laughter in the series' history -- proof positive that the bloom was definitely not off the rose for this venerable property. Other highlights of I Love Lucy
's final season (at least in its half-hour format) include guest appearances by Bob Hope, Orson Welles, and George Reeves (in his familiar guise as "Superman"); a Christmas episode comprised of clips from earlier seasons, which for many years was removed from the series' syndication package and did not resurface publicly until 1989; and the last I Love Lucy
installment, "The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue," in which Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz' real-life son Desi Arnaz Jr.
makes his TV acting debut.