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An Indiana success story

In the 1952 episode of “I Love Lucy” called “Job Switching,” Lucy and Ethel think that their husbands have it easier than they do, as do their husbands about them. So they decide to switch roles.

Lucy and Ethel get a job in a candy factory, where Lucy is first put in the candy dipping department. She watches the woman next to her work, tries it herself and makes a mess out of it. Transferred to the shipping department, she and Ethel sit at a conveyor belt with the job of wrapping each piece as it comes along. They are told by their boss, played by actress Elvia Allman, that if one piece gets past them unwrapped they will be fired. They do alright until the belt speeds up, then they literally stuff candy everywhere to try and keep up.

The candy dipper was played by an actual employee of a candy company, hired for the role. She said her one day on the set was boring, and she had never seen the show, instead she watched wrestling in the Monday night time slot.

The episode was co-written by Madelyn Pugh Davis. Born in Indianapolis on March 15, 1921, she went to Shortridge High School, where a classmate was future author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. She wanted to be a writer and began writing radio spots.

When the Pugh family moved to Los Angeles, she continued her career. Often called “the girl writer,” she attributed her opportunities to a lack of male writers during WWII. She began writing for television with partner Bob Carroll Jr., and they were part of the team that wrote every script for “I Love Lucy.” She would try out the scenarios herself to make sure they would work. She also wrote for several shows Lucille Ball had later on, such as “The Lucy Show,” “Here’s Lucy,” etc. With Carroll, she was nominated three times for an Emmy Award, without winning.

She was first married to producer Quinn Martin. Later she married Dr. Richard Davis of Marion, and lived with him for a few years in his Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home. They moved back to California, where she passed on April 20, 2011. Her ashes were placed in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard.

One of the few “girl” writers in the early days, her work was highly admired, and helped open opportunities for other female writers later on. Madelyn Pugh Davis — an Indiana success story.

Jeff Hatton, Greentown

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