It is the actual pastel and ink on art paper -- an original piece of artwork, not a print -- AND the original frame that was used as a prop on the set of the original I LOVE LUCY show starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
It was purchased by my mother at a Studio City church bazaar in 1961. This church has a history of celebrity parishioners, from people like Stacy Keach to Denver Pyle to Tom Hanks more recently. Also, many studio employees and art directors made the church's annual plays stand out over the years.
This is the onset prop artwork of a male dancer that hung over Ricky Ricardo's bed on the original I LOVE LUCY set. As far as mom recalls, t was never a mate to this piece -- as in the original LUCY episodes, Lucy Ricardo had a female counterpart to this over her twin bed.
The piece itself is a pastel and ink depiction of the male dancer on thick, old fashioned art paper. When I first asked, mom believed that she had created this dancer herself in a long forgotten art class, and indeed, some of the white pastel on the legs appears to have been worked over with fingertips, probably by her.
T is an antiquated "Mayflower" movers tag on the back of the frame -- see photo -- and we assume that an art director or some other Desilu employee took this home when the I LOVE LUCY show ended.
Other than that, the paper has suffered some natural pinholes from age, mainly around the top portion and not visible as they are under the frame and on one side of the paper.
T are two areas of slight damage, neither area detracts from the image area.
In the top right corner, t is some water damage along the top of the paper. (See photo)
In the bottom left corner, the piece is torn -- and have affixed acid-free archival tape to the back as repair. I ordered new glass and acid free backing cut for it.
When framed, these areas are not noticeable -- in fact, they add interest to this fifty-plus year old prop.
On the back of the piece, it is written: "END OF PAIRS". I presume this was the art direction for the prop -- to instruct the set dressers at Desilu that these two framed pastels went at the end of each of the pair of twin beds.
What may have protected the image for all these years is that the piece was covered up by my childhood fingerpainting. I took out the fingerpainting because I liked this cool, Eames-era "stepped" wooden frame. That's when I noticed the pastel and ink dancer underneath. I just happened to be watching LUCY a few weeks later when I almost jumped out of my chair because I recognized it!
(Initially, I didn't realize that it was also the same exact FRAME used as a prop!)
This prop appears in the I LOVE LUCY show from the first 1952-1957 years when the Ricardo's lived in their "New York City" apartment near "Fred and Ethel Mertz". Later, when Lucy and Ricky moved to Connecticut on the chicken ranch, these props were not used. It seems that the producers of the show instituted the famous twin beds set around the time that Lucille Ball was actually pregnant on camera. Lucy's pregnancy caused a fuss at that time back in the early fifties and rabbis, priests and other church folk were enlisted by the producers to figure out how to handle her pregnancy onscreen. Guess they were trying to imply that it was an immaculate conception because Lucy and Ricky had twin beds? In any case, this picture was part of the "twin beds" bedroom set.
From 1952 to the end of the show's run, this prop was in almost every show set in Lucy and Ricky's apartment! It is very cool to see!
I have spoken to several experts about the piece. One auction house in New York wants to put it in an auction, and start bidding at several thousands of ...