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Dear Jerry:

My husband and I are avid “I Love Lucy” fans. In its continuing reruns, this 1950s TV comedy is still awesome.

At a recent neighborhood cookout, we discovered that people of all generations appreciate the Ricardos, the Mertzes and everyone associated with “I Love Lucy.” Over hot dogs and hamburgers, some questions about “I Love Lucy” characters remained unresolved in our community. Hopefully, you can answer them before our mid-July cookout.

  1. The Ricardos had an upstairs neighbor whose name was Mrs. Trumbull. Did she have a first name?
  2. In the early years, Lucy had a friend called Lillian Appleby. Later, she had a friend called Carolyn Appleby. What was the connection between the two?
  3. Regarding the birth date of Lucy Ricardo, there are inconsistencies. Was she born on Aug. 6, 1911?
  4. Did Lucy Ricardo have a middle name?
  5. Are any major characters from “I Love Lucy” around today?

We anxiously await your response.

Tiffany L.

Battle Creek, Mich.

Dear Tiffany:

1. Though it was almost never mentioned, Mrs. Trumbull’s first name was Matilda. On one occasion, Mrs. Trumbull’s nephew, Joe, visited the apartment building. He called her “Aunt Matilda.” The actress who played Mrs. Trumbull was Elizabeth Patterson.

2. Lillian Appleby and Carolyn Appleby were the same person. Initially, she was called Lillian Appleby. Soon thereafter, Lucy decided to call her Carolyn Appleby. The actress who played both Lillian Appleby and Carolyn Appleby was Doris Singleton.

3. Lucy Ricardo, the TV character, was supposedly born on Aug. 6, 1921. Lucille Ball, the actress, was born on Aug. 6, 1911. Accordingly, when the show was filmed during the 1950s, Lucy Ricardo played the part of a woman in her 30s. Lucille Ball, actress playing the role, was actually in her 40s. Lucy Ricardo once commented her astrological sign was Taurus. Given she subsequently identified her birthday as Aug. 6, that would make her astrological sign Leo.

4. Before her marriage, Lucy Ricardo was purportedly Lucille Esmerelda McGillicuddy from West Jamestown, New York.

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5. One major character from “I Love Lucy” is around today. He is the actor who played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s son, “Little Ricky.” His name is Keith Thibodeaux. Today, the toddler who played that role is 64 years old.

There are hundreds of reasons why “I Love Lucy” enjoys a unique standing in television history. One would be the name performers attracted to the show. Among the entertainers who played cameo roles on “I Love Lucy” were Eve Arden, Milton Berle, Charles Boyer, William Holden, Bob Hope, Hedda Hopper, Van Johnson, George Reeves (the original “Superman”), John Wayne, Orson Welles, Richard Widmark and Cornel Wilde. I cannot be certain whether the younger people at your community cookout are familiar with those legends.

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of books to satisfy your curiosity about “I Love Lucy” trivia. That includes on-the-air anecdotes, behind-the-scenes issues, confusion, inconsistencies and more. At this point, the degree of accuracy is probably irrelevant. Any incorrectness is upstaged by quality scriptwriting, phenomenal acting and memorable comedy. To fill in the blanks on “I Love Lucy” specifics, you can find obscure information in these many publications.

At large bookstores, consumers can peruse the entertainment section. Huge choices are devoted exclusively to “I Love Lucy” and the characters contained therein. Online, you can visit the usual book resources (e.g., www.abebooks.com, www.amazon.com, www.bookfinder.com, www.froogle.com). Type “I Love Lucy,” “Lucille Ball,” “The Ricardos,” plus any additional references that come to mind. At easily affordable prices, you can order new books or used copies.

The “I Love Lucy” reruns appear in dozens of languages throughout the world. The Ricardos, the Mertzes and all their antics are here to stay.

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Jerry Romansky is a syndicated columnist.  Readers are invited to write in English or Spanish:  Ask Jerry, Post Office Box 42444, Washington DC 20015.  Email askjerry@earthlink.net and (because of spam situation) write the name of your newspaper in subject heading.  Questions of popular interest are answered in the column.  Unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

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