We have seen Lucy's face on cigar bands, dress patterns, even Dixie-cup lids... but this one boggles the mind: Lucy is the colorful covergirl on a TV "repair" manual!
Actually, it is a 134-page magazine-size publication, compiled by Radio & Television News and published in 1957 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company. Its target audience was ostensibly the installers, servicers and owners of color television. Chapters are titled "New Color Sets/Buyers Guide," "Fundamentals of Color TV," "Test Equipment for Color TV," etc. The editors obviously chose to feature Lucille Ball on the cover because she was the biggest name on television at that time -- but there are many other factors that make this an odd choice, indeed:
(1) Neither I Love Lucy or the just starting Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Show specials were broadcast in color. Lucy's programs were aired over the CBS Television Network, and during the 1950s, color television was the pet project of rival NBC. NBC, in those years, was owned by RCA, which in turn owned all the patents that went into the making of color televisions. CBS had no desire to help feather NBC's nest by broadcasting programs in color (and by implication, encouraging the sale of color sets) and continued to broadcast even their biggest hits in glorious black-and-white until the mid-1960s. The first Lucy program of any ilk to be seen in color was the "Lucy Visits Marineland" episode of The Lucy Show, aired September 13, 1965.
(2) As we have mentioned, RCA was the major manufacturer and advertiser of color televisions during the 1950s. Lucy and Desi Arnaz had an endorsement deal in place, circa 1953, with General Electric Company (then another arch-rival of RCA), and the couple appeared in a long-running series of print ads for GE's black-and-white sets.
(3) Last, but not least, there is absolutely NO reference to Miss Ball or her programs on the cover or inside this publication. The closest thing we get to an entertainment -themed article is a one-page story on NBC's then new color production studios in Burbank, CA.
All together, this makes for a rather fascinating collectible, an artifact from television's early days and a testimony to the fact that even on a dry technical manual, Lucy's face could be counted upon to help sell copies!
(If any of our readers can offer any additional information regarding this publication, we would enjoy hearing from you!)
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Original material © 2000 Lucyfan Enterprises.
I Love Lucy is copyrighted by and a registered trademark of CBS Worldwide, Inc.
Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used by permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
Licensing by Unforgettable Licensing, Northbrook, Illinois.