Life with Luigi

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Luigi Basco (J. Carrol Naish) and Pasquale (Alan Reed) in the CBS-TV series Life With Luigi (1952)

Life with Luigi is an American radio situation comedy series which began September 21, 1948 on CBS Radio, with the final episode broadcast on March 3, 1953.

The action centered on Luigi Basco and his experiences as a newly arrived Italian immigrant in Chicago. Many episodes take place at the citizenship classes that Luigi attends with other immigrants from different countries. Another common theme has Luigi's landlord/sponsor, Pasquale, scheming to get Luigi to marry his obese daughter.[1] Perennial character actor and two-time Academy Award nominee J. Carrol Naish played Luigi.[2]

Life with Luigi was created by Cy Howard, who earlier had created the hit radio comedy, My Friend Irma. The working title was The Little Immigrant, echoed in the sign-off of each episode, "Your lovin-a son-a, Luigi Basco, the li'l immigrant." Other characters on the show include Pasquale (Alan Reed), another Italian immigrant who is always trying to set Luigi up with his daughter Rosa (Jody Gilbert); native Chicagoan Jimmy (Gil Stratton), Luigi's young business associate; and Schultz (Hans Conried), a German immigrant and fellow student in Luigi's citizenship class. Each episode used the framing device of Luigi narrating a letter to his mother back in Italy.[1]

The show was very popular, successfully competing with Bob Hope's The Pepsodent Show. For most of its run, Life with Luigi aired on Tuesday nights at 9. Wrigley's Gum was the show's sponsor from 1950 to 1953.[1]

TV version[edit]

Beginning on September 22, 1952, Naish continued the role on a live short-lived CBS Television version. Although it enjoyed high ratings,[3] the show was pulled because of pressure from the Italian-American community.[4] CBS tried to respond to concerns by tinkering with the characters and replacing Naish with Vito Scotti in the spring of 1953, but the revised show was unsuccessful and was cancelled within weeks.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. pp. 397–398. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. 
  2. ^ Reinehr, Robert C.; Swartz, Jon D. (2010). The A to Z of Old Time Radio. Scarecrow Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-1-4616-7207-4. 
  3. ^ Murray, Susan (2013). Hitch Your Antenna to the Stars! Early Television and Broadcast Stardom. Routledge. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-135-46520-9. 
  4. ^ a b Leszczak, Bob (2012). Single Season Sitcoms, 1948–1979: A Complete Guide. McFarland. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-7864-6812-6. 

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