'I Love Lucy's Original Opening Credits Showed Lucy & Ricky Climbing A Box Of Cigarettes

By | February 8, 2020

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Dancer/actress Lucille Ball posing in strapless black lace evening dress, holding lit cigarette on couch. (Photo by John Florea/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

If you grew up watching I Love Lucy in reruns then there’s a piece of the show that you’ve never seen. Most fans of the show are used to the Valentine Heart opening of the show, but the I Love Lucy original opening credits sequence was actually changed when the series went into syndication. The original sponsor of the show was Philip Morris - the tobacco giant - and anyone watching the original broadcast of the episodes had a completely different experience than anyone watching it on TV Land. Why change the introduction? And more importantly, why have a huge ad for smoking at the top of I Love Lucy? Short answer: the early days of television were wild.

The Original Opening Had A Giant Box Of Cigarettes

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source: CBS

Even if you watched I Love Lucy the early 1960s, you weren’t actually seeing the original opening credits. The satin heart image that opened the show was designed for daytime rebroadcasts on CBS from 1959 to 1967 and all following syndication. It’s a timeless visual that you can picture right now - but that’s not the way the show originally began. For the first three years of the series it opened with an animated version of Lucy and Ricky sauntering down a pack of Philip Morris cigarettes. Once they make their way down, the first four episodes feature an additional ad for the brand that features a bellhop named Johnny Roventini who sings the company’s jingle, “Call For Philip Morris” and only then do we get to the comedy.