These candid photos show the messy aftermath of I Love Lucy’s famous grape stomping scene

The iconic moment looks hilarious on camera but was perilous to film.

The Everett Collection

I Love Lucy provided many iconic moments still enjoyed 70 years later. Along with the hilarious “Vitameatavegamin” commercial and the “Job Switching” chocolate factory conveyor belt bit, Lucy’s attempt at stomping grapes in Italy ranks as one of the show’s greatest scenes. It has been referenced and replicated countless times since it first aired. Julia Roberts laughs at Lucy’s chaotic antics in Pretty Woman and Megan Mullally reenacts the scene with Leslie Jordan in the sitcom Will & Grace.

While the scene is a definite sidesplitter, filming it wasn’t all squashy fun. A language barrier between most of the crew and the Italian actor with Lucille Ball in the vat of grapes prevented clear communication and the escalating blows while cameras rolled made Ball fear for her life!

On Dick Cavett’s show in 1974, Ball recounted the harrowing ordeal. She explained that the large vat was filled with real grapes and felt like “being in a vat of eyeballs,” to which Cavett deadpanned “Oh, I know what that’s like.”

Ball and her scene partner Teresa Tirelli pranced around in the grapes until Lucy slipped and hit Teresa, a move that was planned. That fall was then supposed lead into a pretend fight with Lucy’s legs, arms and head popping up over the sides for comedic effect. But as Ball told Cavett, things got out of hand.

“She had been told that we were to stay down for a while, [to] give me a chance to get my legs way up so that they would show in the camera. Up would come an arm and then my head was supposed to [pop up]. Well, my head never popped up.” She continued, “She kept me down by the throat! And I had grapes up my nose, in my ears and she was choking me.”

When Ball finally did emerge, exasperated, the director and the live studio audience loved it, thinking it was all played for laughs. She noted that half the scene was cut from the episode and the crew had to explain to Tirelli to let Lucy up for air. “To drown in a vat of grapes is not the way I had planned to go,” Ball joked at the end of her story.

While Lucille Ball may have been exaggerating a little for comedic effect on The Dick Cavett Show, it’s clear that one of I Love Lucy’s most iconic scenes didn’t go as planned. In these behind-the-scenes photos from that episode, her face does seem to show she had just been through quite an ordeal, though she’s still able to flash a smile to the camera.

The Everett Collection
The Everett Collection
The Everett Collection

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TheresaPerry 22 months ago
MeTV PLEASE! Can you substitute another classic series for endless episodes of MASH? I mean it is ok, but 2 episodes everyday? There are so many series that seem to come and go EXCEPT MASH. As for "I Love Lucy", the episode I liked was when Lucy was arrested for passing phony money in Paris and Ricky had to translate into English from Spanish the charges against her, from a drunk who only spoke Spanish and German, from a French cop who only spoke German and French to the police administrator who only spoke French. BOTTOM LINE: It is good to be bilingual.
Claude 23 months ago
Well, that we know you have the rights to I Love Lucy, can we please see it back in the line-up? Even one day a week would be better than nothing.... Please?
Rita6868 23 months ago
Thanks so much for bringing I Love Lucy back and making MeTV great again! Now please bring back The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne & Shirley and put "The Rookies" 1972-1976 on MeTV since cable by me won't pick up MeTV Plus.Thanks MeTV! You give seniors something to look forward to.
JudiV 23 months ago
Bring Lucy back to the regular line up. How about That Girl w Marlo Thomas too.
2120berkeley 23 months ago
The ten episodes picked of I Love Lucy, for the Sunday Block Party, were ten of the very best! I enjoyed every minute. How about Mr. Ed for a future Sunday Block Party.
RichLorn 23 months ago
This episode is responsible for my switching from wine to beer.
PaulaGhioneLucas 23 months ago
THANK YOU MeTV For The Sunday Afternoon I LOVE LUCY Marathon! PLEASE PLEASE - run it again!!! We all miss Lucy weekday mornings!! Thank you again!! :)

jaelinsmith40652 23 months ago
Oh MeTV, I have enjoyed watching this great episode it was such a marvelous iconic episode.
timothys71 23 months ago
Some of us longtime MeTV watchers can remember seeing a 3-hour block of I Love Lucy on Sunday afternoons. Much as I like Gilligan's Island and Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley, which have run in that time slot in more recent years, I hope they put Lucy back into the rotation every once in a while. How about an hour of I Love Lucy, an hour of The Lucy Show, and an hour of Here's Lucy? Yes, I know it currently airs on sister network Decades, but I am one of those not fortunate enough to have a station in my area that carries that network.
Decades Channel is not available everywhere like MeTV. We need I Love Lucy back regularly on MeTV. We watch a ton on MeTV and want Lucy back too!
I've never even heard of Decades TV. Is it a cable station or through another service like "Hulu" or "PlutoTV"?
MichaelVegas 23 months ago
You know I can not find this one, the chocolate one or the Vegimite one on any of the streaming platforms (Hulu, Netflix and so on) Where are they. They have other ones but not these
Annisette MichaelVegas 23 months ago
Sunday's Block Party is all I Love Lucy and I think those are some of the episodes. Noon on MeTV.
JJWhorley 23 months ago
I wish I liked her and the show like you guys.
My parents watched this all the time when I was a kid (born 1953).
I never saw her as funny. I saw her character only as a lying, scheming, manipulative bad person. I still do to this day.
JJWhorley JJWhorley 23 months ago
...who used her best friend, too.
MacD 23 months ago
PLEASE put "I Love Lucy" in a daily slot on MeTV! For years, the Hallmark channel showed several episodes of "Lucy" on a daily basis but yanked it two years ago. So what if that show is now 70 years old. It's still the most hilarious sitcom ever shown on TV and, with today's world currently going to hell, "I Love Lucy" is needed more than ever!
Pegs MacD 23 months ago
It's on M-F afternoons on Decades. :-)
MacD Pegs 23 months ago
What is "Decades"? I never heard of it. I doubt that Spectrum (my cable company that serves customers in NYC) carries "Decades" even though it costs a fortune!
PaulaGhioneLucas Pegs 23 months ago
Decades is limited on where it is on. It is not available in most areas unfortunately.
327053 23 months ago
She was a beautiful clown 🤡❤️
Lantern 23 months ago
Off-Topic: Has anyone seen the ME TV Plus channel? The voice-over announcer (the same guy as on ME TV) says it's new, but I don't know when it started broadcasting - maybe June 1? (I discovered it just this past weekend). It has some of the same shows but at different times.
JHP Lantern 23 months ago
dont get Me-Tv+ in Se Wis
( which means Me-TV "basic" will soon be washed down to re-runs of full house, mama's family, saved by the bell and sappy days)
DoubleNaughtSpy JHP 23 months ago
I hate to have to agree with you, JHP, but with the recent addition of dog food like "The A-Team" to the daytime line-up, even Stevie Wonder can see that this is is the likely fate of MeTV. It wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see "The Dukes of Hazzard" premiere on MeTV come Labor Day.
JHP DoubleNaughtSpy 23 months ago
man oh man - you aint no Jethro:):):):)

also when I was a kid I could eat any BF cereal in a bowl that Jethro did:)

my fav was wheaties

look at what tvland turned out to be - a dumpster of Dumps
ncadams27 23 months ago
I do like the show, but I feel it became less funny the more successful Ricky became. He began to have little real reason to tell Lucy she couldn’t do something other than as a plot device for Lucy to do it behind his back. Ricky began coming across as mean.
JHP ncadams27 23 months ago
in my 2 cent opinion - that theme was almost from the start or when Lucy "had" little ricky and back then the mantra was daddys worked for $$$ and mom's had the kids and the domestic chores to do
Lillyrose 23 months ago
"Lucy's Italian Movie" is one of my favorite episodes. "Bullfight Dance" is my favorite episode. "I Love Lucy" is the best TV show ever! Thank you, MeTV, for airing "I Love Lucy" on the Sunday Block Party. Please put "I Love Lucy" back on your schedule again. Please put "Here's Lucy" and "The Lucy Show" on, too.
Pacificsun 23 months ago
She was a good sport to allow those pictures looking at her worst. But I guess she was proud to have survived the ordeal!

I wonder if that Italian actress ever found work again!!
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 23 months ago
She did a one time role in Dr. Kildare (1964), and a role as a midwife in The Godfather Part II (1974).
Aside from that two other uncredited roles.
WordsmithWorks 23 months ago
She was one of the greatest, a true trailblazer on many levels.
LoveMETV22 WordsmithWorks 23 months ago
The pictures MeTV posted with the story are priceless. Neither practiced or rehearsed, Just natural.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 23 months ago
Yas, the L/D couple were among the few who let cameras around their home. Including the famous one with L & D in the pool, playing with their children, was a home movie. She was actually nothing like "Lucy." It was said she rehearsed every single "bit" again and again that went into her physical routines, from the cues that her writers ... Madelyn Pugh Davis, the TV scribe whose 50-year collaboration with Bob Carroll Jr. included decades of work writing for comic legend Lucille Ball (from Wiki), She "understood" comedy from a sense of perfect timing, but didn't project it in her normal life, except for an average sense of humor.

How cool to be such a one-of-a-kind legend in life!
texasluva 23 months ago
It is fun to go back and watch ILL episodes along with ‎The Honeymooners and others. To me much more funnier then what comes out now. Sure the technology is light years ahead with 8K vids coming out. Give me the meat and potatoes of the Classic Era. My favorite is L.A. at Last! with William Holden. I am trying to locate that episode since YT has very little parts of it.
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MrsPhilHarris Moverfan 23 months ago
I haven’t heard that story but it’s a good one!
ncadams27 Moverfan 23 months ago
I also heard the flaming nose was unplanned, but another source said there was no way the camera would just keep running with her nose on fire unless it was carefully planned. I believe it was planned, but the unplanned story made a more interesting tale.
JHP Mirramanee 23 months ago
Ethel and Fred and Lucy and Ricky and the train runs by 2x - good comedy long lost
Annisette Mirramanee 23 months ago
You are correct,: A Great Episode and many, many laughs!
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