Ethel’s Birthday, from I Love Lucy season 4, originally aired November 29, 1954
As Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz are dropping hints about Ethel’s upcoming birthday, Ricky Ricardo misunderstands and thinks that he’s forgotten Lucy’s birthday! To add insult to injury, he brings out a birthday present for Lucy — which he has hidden away for just such an emergency! Lucy’s birthday is month’s away, however, and Lucy milks Ricky’s embarrassment for all its’ worth.
Fred Mertz knew about Ethel’s upcoming birthday the whole time, and Ricky offers to treat Fred and Ethel to a fancy dinner and a play for Ethel’s birthday (as opposed to how the Mertz’ celebrated the previous year – by staying home with Ethel baking and cleaning). After the card game, Fred sneaks into the apartment to ask Lucy to buy Ethel a nice birthday gift, since Ethel doesn’t like the presents that Fred buys for her … like the toaster that he has his eye on. Â After playing with Fred’s frugality, Lucy gets some money from him to buy Ethel’s present … and leaves without fixing Lucy’s faucet that’s been leaking for four months, which was Fred’s excuse for visiting the Ricardos.
The following day, Lucy sneaks the present into the Mertzes apartment, and Lucy coerces Ethel to take a peek at the gift that “Fred” got for her — a pair of gaudy hostess pants that Ethel hates — she wanted the toaster! This quickly escalates into a feud between Lucy and Ethel, only for Ethel to decide that she won’t go to the theater with Lucy, and demands that Fred gets more tickets to the sold-out play. Ricky “sells” two of the tickets to Fred, and the four sit at the theater together … with Lucy and Ethel still feuding …
The scene at the theater is hilarious, with the two ladies feuding, with the people behind them suffering, and the man directly behind them providing comedy gold throughout. The play deals with two friends who have been feuding … and one of them has died. This leads to a mutual forgiveness and reconciliation that’s both sweet and funny.
Ethel’s Birthday is a very good episode of I Love Lucy, and recommended. It’s available on DVD as part of the I Love Lucy season 4 DVD collection.
Funny quotes from Ethel’s Birthday – I Love Lucy
Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance): I refuse to go to the theater with someone who says I look like a hippopatamus.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): I merely intimated that she was a little hippy but on second glance she does have the biggest potamus I’ve ever seen.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball): [to Ethel, after they fight] Happy Birthday, and I hope you live another 75 years!
Fred Mertz (William Frawley): What’ll you do with our two mules sitting next to each other?
Fred Mertz (William Frawley): [continuing to refer to Ethel as a stubborn mule] I’ll go tell Frances …