Saturday, August 06, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday, My Dear Lucy

Lucille Ball truly was an inspiration. Not only was she one of the most powerful women in Hollywood in her day, she helped create Desilu Productions with her husband Desi Arnaz, the first company to use a multi-camera film setup before a live studio audience. She was a true class act.

Even though she was born 100 years ago this month and her mega-hit TV show premiered 60 years ago this October, there remains a single truth about Lucille Ball: We still love Lucy.

I LOVE LUCY took place on the East Side, was in black and white, the fashions were outdated, but the show continues to air in 80 countries and has been dubbed in 21 languages. Her fans are multigenerational. The first show I remember seeing Lucy on was THE LUCY SHOW. It was the episode with Carol Burnett. They were airline flight attendants and they mess up - the usual way - but end up turning the mess into a big musical onboard flight. I never dreamt that years later, I would become such a fan and collector.

One day, while I was walking thru the village, I stopped at a table someone had set up to sell photos and postcards. I rummaged thru and found a beautiful photo of Lucy in a white shroud. I bought it. Took it to be framed. Took it home. Hung it on the wall and that became the first item I ever collected. Every time I’d see a photo or postcard or anything on or with Lucy, I’d buy it. I even named my first pet- a cat - Lucy. I was hooked!

WILDCAT - A musical with a book by N. Richard Nash, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, and music by Cy Coleman. It opened on Broadway in 1960 at the Alvin Theatre, starring a 48-year-old Lucille Ball. It was her only appearance in a Broadway production.

I never got to meet Lucille Ball or Desi Arnaz (he died in 1986, 3 years before Lucy). In fact, she was the last of the “gang” to go. The one and only time I wrote a fan letter to Lucy, It was sent to her in the hospital. The day after I mailed the letter, she died. I got back a note from the family thanking me for remembering ‘mom’ and a thanks for writing. Lucy will always be in the hearts of her fans. Wherever you go there are kids and adults that say they have favorite episodes and never once tire of talking about how great her shows are. It is said that anywhere at any moment, anywhere in the world, you’ll find an episode of I Love Lucy on TV. Many say I Love Lucy has healing powers. I fully believe in this. If you’re ever “tired, rundown, listless...” If you’re ever “in a jam”, “up a tree”, “down a well”, “in a mess”, and you need a pick-up, watch an I Love Lucy episode. Happy Birthday, Lucy!!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Lucille Ball at 100 and I Love Lucy at 60

I own these two outfits on loan to the Hollywood Museum
A new exhibition at the Hollywood Museum celebrates two milestones in the life of America’s Queen of Comedy: Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday on Aug. 6 and the 60th anniversary of “I Love Lucy,” her classic TV collaboration with husband Desi Arnaz, which CBS first aired on Oct. 15, 1951.

“Lucille Ball at 100 & ‘I Love Lucy’ at 60,” presented in partnership with CBS , will be on display from Aug. 3 to Nov. 30, showcasing memorabilia saluting the careers and romance of Hollywood’s most famous lovebirds.

“The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Building is the perfect venue for this exhibit because it's where Lucille Ball went for makeup and hair treatments from Mr. Factor,” says Museum President Donelle Dadigan. “It's where Lucy first became a redhead. She had the longest-running contract of all of Mr. Factor's celebrity clients and he frequently used her image in his PR and ad promotions. The Redheads Only Room has been carefully preserved in her memory today. The museum’s historic connection to Lucy is the reason the U.S. Postal Service chose to unveil its official Lucille Ball commemorative stamp here in 2001.”

The exhibit is presented in partnership with CBS DVD and Paramount Home Video, which just released a new DVD set “The Best of ‘I Love Lucy’” featuring 14 classic episodes that have been digitally restored. CBS describes the set, “Television's all-time queen of comedy is at her candy-wrapping, grape-stomping, Vitameatavegamin-pushing best in this timeless collection of I Love Lucy episodes. From Hollywood to Europe, from ballet to burlesque to the birth of Little Ricky... it’s all here in this hilarious 2-disc set.” The 14 episodes: “The Ballet,” “The Freezer,” “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” (Vitameatavegamin), “Job Switching” (The Chocolate Factory), “Lucy Is Enceinte” (Lucy reveals pregnancy), “Lucy Goes to the Hospital,” “L.A. at Last,” “Lucy Gets in Pictures,” “Harpo Marx,” “The Great Train Robbery,” “Bon Voyage,” “Paris at Last,” “Lucy Gets a Paris Gown,” “Lucy’s Italian Movie” (Grape Stomping).

The opening of the exhibition will be celebrated at a private party to be held tonight with Lucie Arnaz in attendance. On Lucille Ball's 100th birthday, Aug. 6,, the museum will stage a Lucy look-alike contest plus a contest to declare the best birthday cake.

“Lucille Ball at 100 & ‘I Love Lucy’ at 60” Exhibit includes:
· “Redheads Only Room" where Max Factor worked on Lucy’s famous look, featuring their original signed contract.
· Awards, Certificates, Statuettes/Trophies, Plaques - including the special tribute to Lucy at the 33rd Annual Emmys (1981) and a congratulatory letter from President Ronald Reagan
· The famous first national TV Guide (April 3, 1953) featuring Desi, Jr. on the cover as the $50 million baby
· Items showcasing the genius of Desi – including original editing equipment which allowed for the technical advancement of TV production (3 cameras, live audience, on film)
· A huge photography collection spanning Lucy’s life including her childhood, modelling career, films, radio and TV with some never-before-seen candid personal shots
· Lucy's autographed leg cast from her 1972 ski accident at Snowmass, CO
· Personal annotated copies of Lucy’s scripts from TV shows and films
· Desi's original recordings + sheet music
· Montage of original photos from Lucy and Desi’s homes and apartments including Palm Springs, NYC and Beverly Hills

Costumes Include:
· Elizabethan gown worn by Lucy opposite guest Tallulah Bankhead (“The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” 1957).
· Artist smock worn by Lucy opposite guest Danny Thomas ("Here's Lucy," 1973).
· Flapper dance costume worn by Lucie Arnaz in a specialty flapper dance number ("Here's Lucy," 1972).
· Bold hound’s-tooth wool pant suit worn by Lucy during the filming of her last film “Mame” (1974). Unfortunately neither the costume nor the scene made it to the final cut of the film.
· Ivory and lavender beaded gown worn by Lucy in her first MGM film "Du Barry Was a Lady" (1943) opposite co-stars Red Skelton and Gene Kelly.
· Iconic trench coat worn by Lucy and featured in ads for the classic film noir “Lured” (1947).

Lucy's Scripts Include:
·“I Love Lucy” – Season 6, Episode 6: “Off to Florida” (Nov. 12, 1956)
·“The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour” – Episode 2: “The Celebrity Next Door” (Dec. 3, 1957)
·“The Lucy Show” – Season 1, Episode 1: “Lucy Waits Up for Chris” (Oct. 1, 1962); Season 1, Episode 5: “Lucy Buys a Sheep” (Oct. 29, 1962)
·“Here's Lucy” – Season 2, Episode 10: “Lucy the Cement Worker” (Nov. 24, 1969); Season 3, Episode 1: “Lucy Meets the Burtons” (Sept. 14,1970); Season 5, Episode 16: “Lucy Goes on Her Last Blind Date” (Jan. 8, 1973)
·“Life with Lucy” – Season 1, Episode 1: “One Good Grandparent Deserves Another” (Sept. 20, 1986)

For more details, please go to
WHERE: The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90028
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday
EXHIBIT INFO: Aug. 4, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2011
PRICE: $15 for adults; $12 for seniors and children under 12.
INFO: (323) 464-7776

Here's a video of the News Broadcast that night of the opening Gala. What's neat about this video is that 44 seconds into it, you see a shot of the two articles of clothing I lent to the museum for this exhibit. They are the Aqua Chiffon Caftan with Feather-Boa Sleeves, the 3-Piece Lilac Pant Suit and the Deep Purple High-Heeled shoes. Pictured at the top of this article.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Double Feature! Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday!

Beloved performer Lucille Ball (1911 - 1989) is spotlighted with screenings of the Lucy-Desi comedy THE LONG, LONG TRAILER and her more dramatic turn in the noir THE DARK CORNER.


1954, Warner Bros., 96 min, USA,
Dir: Vincente Minnelli
Long before VACATION and RV, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz hit the road (though not as the Ricardos) in color in this slapstick romp about newlyweds who buy a shiny new trailer and decide to take a cross-country honeymoon. Needless to say, "There's gonna be a lotta 'splainin' to do!" With Marjorie "Ma Kettle" Main, Keenan Wynn and Madge Blake; written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich (FATHER OF THE BRIDE).


1946, 20th Century Fox, 99 min, USA,
Dir: Henry Hathaway
Wrongly convicted private eye Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens) is sprung from prison, but bad luck sticks to his gummed shoes. Who's the mystery man in the white suit and why won't he leave Galt alone? What's his connection to the big money boys on the Upper East Side? Galt's no Marlowe. Without his loyal gal Friday (Lucille Ball), he wouldn't make it out from behind the 8-ball alive. "I'm backed up in a dark corner," he grouses, "and I don't know who's hitting me." Co-starring Clifton Webb, William Bendix.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Anniversary waltz for Lucille Ball, 'Lucy'


Variety kept a close eye on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's bold gamble in producing "I Love Lucy" on film through their Desilu banner.
A full-page launch ad ran in the Sept. 5, 1951, edition of "Daily Variety."
It's time to take a moment to remember why we love Lucy.

A number of tributes, exhibits and events are set to mark the twin milestones this year of the 100th anniversary of Lucille Ball's birth, on Aug. 6, 1911, and the 60th anni of "I Love Lucy's" debut, on Oct. 15, 1951.

The backstory of "Lucy" and the many achievements of Ball and Desi Arnaz have been well documented, but it's a legacy of risk-taking, innovation and unparalleled talent that has grown only more impressive with the passage of time.

Through the couple's insistence on producing a show on film from Los Angeles, rather than live in New York, "Lucy" invented the three-camera sitcom, modern editing techniques and the riches of syndication. And Lucy and Desi owned it all, through Desilu Prods., after spending their own money on a pilot to convince skeptical CBS execs that America would warm to a ditsy redheaded housewife and her Cuban bandleader husband.

Three months after the launch of Desilu in April 1950, Daily Variety reported the first rumblings that the pair were about to produce a "tele pilot film" but were keeping mum on details. The following year, the bet-the-farm gamble that Desilu was taking on "Lucy" was palpable in a full-page launch ad that ran in the Sept. 5, 1951, edition.

Variety's review of the "Lucy" bow wasn't a rave, but it hit the mark in noting that the show "should sell lots of cigarettes" for sponsor Philip Morris.

Among the upcoming tributes, the Hollywood Museum on Highland Avenue will unveil an extensive exhibit of Lucy-ana that runs Aug. 4-Nov. 30. Ball's daughter Lucie Arnaz, "Lucy" editor Dann Cahn and other notables will be on hand for the opening night.

For hardcore enthusiasts, there's Lucy Fest, which runs Aug. 3-7 in Ball's hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., which pays year-round tribute to its famous daughter with the Lucy Desi Center. This year's festivities include an attempt to set a Guinness Book record for the number of people dressed as Lucy Ricardo.