Spring 2022

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94 SAGAFTRA | Spring 2022 | O ne of the most beloved television shows of all time, I Love Lucy, has been running continuously since 1951, when Harry Truman was president and America was in its second year of fighting in the Korean War. In February 1934, 22-year-old Lucille Ball joined Screen Actors Guild. That same year in June, 17-year-old Desi Arnaz, then a refugee from the 1933 Cuban Revolution, arrived in Key West, Florida, on the S.S. Cuba. In less than six years, they would meet and marry and, 11 years later, become TV legends. The new Amazon Prime Video documentary Luci and Desi, directed by SAG-AFTRA member Amy Poehler, explores the relationship between the pair who would rewrite television history. On Oct. 15, 1951, I Love Lucy, starring Ball and Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, debuted to stellar reviews and won millions of loyal viewers. Unlike the majority of TV at the time, which was performed live in New York, with kinescope recordings made off the monitor for repeat broadcast, I Love Lucy was shot on film, as a regular motion picture would be, and in Hollywood. Two months later, the couple's company, Desilu, became one of the earliest to sign a film TV contract with the Screen Actors Guild. SAG was then still locked in an ongoing jurisdictional battle with the Television Authority, a trusteeship of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America. When television jurisdiction was finally settled, giving filmed television to SAG and leaving live television with Television Authority, which merged with AFRA creating AFTRA, it was simple. However, this also meant members still needed to pay dues to two separate unions for essentially the same work. But videotape soon emerged to muddy the waters. Decades later, digital production emerged, causing serious jurisdictional clashes between SAG and AFTRA. Two merger votes had failed, in 1999 and 2003, but after digital, the memberships of both unions voted to unite at last and, on March 30, 2012, SAG-AFTRA was born. Lucy and Desi: The REDHEAD and the REFUGEE SAGAFTRA SPECIAL COLLECTIONS FPGGETTY IMAGESCOURTESY AMAZON STUDIOS Right, Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz circa 1953. Below, the couple on the cover of the Feb. 27, 1955, "Coloroto Magazine" section of the New York Sunday News.

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