My Favorite Husband is the name of an American radio program and an adapted network television series. The original radio show, co-starring Lucille Ball, was the initial basis for what evolved into the groundbreaking TV sitcom I Love Lucy.
My Favorite Husband began as a radio sitcom on CBS Radio, with Lucille Ball and Richard Denning as Liz and George Cooper (Cugat in a very few early episodes, until bandleader Xavier Cugat was said to be edgy about the radio couple sharing the name). The couple lived at 321 Bundy Drive in the fictitious city of Sheridan Falls, and were billed as "two people who live together and like it." The main sponsor was Jell-O, and an average of three "plugs" for Jell-O were made in each episode, including Lucille Ball's usual sign-on, "Jell-O, everybody!" The program ran from 1948 through 1951, throughout which 124 episodes were aired.
The program initially portrayed the couple as being a well-to-do banker and his socially prominent wife, but three new writers — Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer — took over the writing, changed the couple's name to Cooper, and remade them into a middle-class couple, believing average listeners would find them more accessible.
Lucille Ball was asked to do a television version of the show (with Jell-O remaining as sponsor) and CBS insisted on Richard Denning continuing as her co-star, but Ball refused to do a husband-and-wife television show without real-life husband Desi Arnaz playing her on-screen husband. The network reluctantly agreed, reworking the concept into I Love Lucy after Ball and Arnaz took a show on the road to convince the network audiences would respond. But Jell-O dropped out of the show in favor of Philip Morris for television.
Carroll, Pugh, and Oppenheimer agreed to do the switch to the "I Love Lucy" show. They subsequently reworked a few My Favorite Husband episodes into I Love Lucy episodes, especially early in the TV show's run. For example, the 1948 radio episode entitled "Giveaway Program" inspired the I Love Lucy episode called "Redecorating," with some lines being exactly the same. Many of the actors who had done My Favorite Husband radio show also appeared on I Love Lucy, sometimes in episodes where they reprised their roles using a reworked Husband script.
CBS finally brought My Favorite Husband to television in 1953, starring Joan Caulfield and Barry Nelson as Liz and George Cooper. The couple now resembled their earliest radio version, with George Cooper a well-to-do bank executive and plots dealing with the couple's society life. The television version ran two-and-one-half seasons, from 1953 to 1955 and was done live for most of its run, until switching to film for a truncated third season and recasting Liz Cooper with Vanessa Brown.