Desi Arnaz (1917-1986)was the creative and fiscal genius behind I LOVE LUCY and so many of the programs produced by Desilu Productions, the company he formed with his wife, Lucille Ball, and of which he was president, for so many years. His innovations in the production of film targeted specifically for television became practice and protocol in an industry he helped create.
In 1967, long after having divorced Lucy and having divested himself of financial interest in Desilu ( which had been purchased by Paramount's then parent company, Gulf & Western Industries), Arnaz sold a fast and funny sitcom to NBC-TV, entitled The Mothers in Law.
Airing Sunday nights at 8:30pm eastern time, the format was welcome and familiar to those who loved Lucy. The show chronicled the comic misadventures of two women trying to fulfill their own dreams for their newlywed children, and to do it behind the backs of their straight-arrow husbands.
This time the female protagonists were the droll Eve Arden and the demonstrative Kaye Ballard. They were not Lucy and Ethel, but they were pretty close. Over the years in prime time on the peacock network, their husbands were played by charcater actors Herbert Rudley and Roger C. Carmel, who was later replaced by the versatile Richard Deacon. Jerry Fogel and Deborah Walley were the objects of their collective affection, their newly married children.
The series, which ran only two seasons, was jammed by NBC-TV programmers between Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and Bonanza. It faced-off against CBS-TV's hit, variety program, The Ed Sullivan Show and The F.B.I. on ABC-TV. There was little chance to create audience flow for a stand-alone sitcom.
For Arnaz, the Mothers In Law represented a homecoming of sorts, since it was produced in front of a live audience on the Desilu Lot, with many key members of his original,Desilu staff working on the show, including the prolific writing team of Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll,JR.
Despite acclaimed talent on stage and accomplished professionals behind the cameras,a high energy musical score, contemporary wardrobe, opulent sets and lavish,living color production values, the show was cancelled at the end of the 1968-1969 television season.
With only about 52 episodes available, the show never succeeded in long term syndication.It was the last network series that Arnaz developed and produced. He continued to perform and is seen as a guest star in the episode posted below.
Arnaz did star in a back-door pilot film, which aired as an episode of NBC-TV's Ironside starring Raymond Burr , in 1974. He played a wise, wily ,crime solving physician named Dr.Juan Domingo.Sadly, Universal's Dr. Domingo starring Desi Arnaz did not sell. Enjoy!!!!!