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Before Lucille Ball found success with I Love Lucy, she was having a hard time finding her fit in the world of film. After feeling disappointed with MGM, Lucy began working at Columbia as a stock player earning $75 per week.
The Fuller Brush Girl was released in 1950, just one year before I Love Lucy premiered, and it hints at the success that Lucy would find on television.
1. Skelton has a cameo.
Red Skelton starred in The Fuller Brush Man two years before Lucy joined the Fuller Brush club. Ball’s comedy was similar to Skelton’s, who faced the many misadventures of being a salesman and eventually stumbled onto a murder mystery. The Fuller Brush Man was actually intended to be released before 1948, but the Fuller Brush company hadn’t granted approval for the use of their name. Skelton also made an appearance on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and had a duet with Lucy.
2. Lucy almost worked with Bacon again.
Before The Fuller Brush Girl, Lucy worked with director Lloyd Bacon on Miss Grant Takes Richmond, which also starred William Holden (who appeared on I Love Lucy years after that). Bacon and his wife pitched another film for America’s favorite housewife called Venus Mahoney, which was about a fight manager who gets mixed up with gangsters. The idea never got off the ground with Lucy and Desi, and Bacon considered Dinah Shore for the part or even turning it into a television series.
3. The film got a radio tie-in.
Before I Love Lucy, there was the radio program My Favorite Husband. Lucille Ball and Richard Denning starred as loveable, yet zany wife and husband. In order to promote The Fuller Brush Girl, the radio program featured an episode called “The Fuller Brush Show”, where Lucy’s character becomes a saleswoman in order to make her household accounts work out. The program featured writers Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer – all of whom would later work on I Love Lucy.