Roger Ailes and Lucy Ricardo: An interview with Henry Louis Gates III

Roger Ailes, PBS, three-part series premieres today, Feb. 25, on PBS One of the goals of Finding Your Roots is to “find out if your ancestors are racist, or [if] your ancestors … left…

Roger Ailes and Lucy Ricardo: An interview with Henry Louis Gates III

Roger Ailes, PBS, three-part series premieres today, Feb. 25, on PBS

One of the goals of Finding Your Roots is to “find out if your ancestors are racist, or [if] your ancestors … left when they could’ve stayed, or if your ancestors fought in one of the last great wars,” host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates III told me.

The second season of the series delves into those topics with a new episode exploring the lives of Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, and Lucy Ricardo, stars of the 1960s sitcom I Love Lucy, and includes unexpected revelations about key figures in the film industry and the American South.

The episodes include some pressure-filled moments for Mr. Gates, who learned from Lucy Ricardo that she changed the pronunciation of Mr. Arnaz’s last name from “Arnaz” to “Cauzan,” the first name of her husband, Desi, whom she married at the age of 16. He later met Lucille Ball. “Oh, I was a little bummed,” Mr. Gates recalls, “I think I dropped to my knees a couple of times to try to comfort Lucy.”

These obstacles are unfortunate, but illuminating in the context of the series. “That’s one of the lessons that you get out of this,” Mr. Gates says. “The show is about how that genealogy is what really shapes who you are and shapes what you become.”

Watch the episode about Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball here.

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