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Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Love Lucy!

Not just a title, but a statement.  Who couldn't love Lucy?  Whenever I hear the opening strains of that theme song, I get that certain feeling - sort of like everything is OK with the world.  Afterall, if I Love Lucy is still on, what could be so bad?

Lucy was on everywhere when I was a kid, and long before that as well.  There were the endless I Love Lucy reruns, followed by The Lucy Show and, for good measure, Here's Lucy.  Early in the morning, in the mid-afternoon and, thanks to Nick at Night, all through the night.  When my only daughter was very young she, too, fell in love with Lucy.  At one point, her bedroom was a tribute to her favorite actress!  She'd sing along with her favorite film, The Long, Long Trailer, and would watch I Love Lucy at every opportunity.  She wasn't alone, all of her brothers will still take time out to sit in front of the television, engrossed in the black and white world of the Ricardo's New York apartment.

I Love Lucy is certainly the favorite.  The team of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel couldn't be beat.  Lucille Ball often said that in all of her shows she was really playing the same character, Lucy Ricardo, and it was when she stopped playing Lucy that her fans became concerned.  Funnily, in all those years of channeling the zany redhead, the real Lucy never tired of her.  She relished the opportunity to bring her alter ego to life.

Being Lucy was no easy feat.  Lucille Ball herself acknowledged that she wasn't terribly funny in real life.  She had a sense of humor, but was better at knowing what was funny rather than saying or doing amusing things.  She was no jokester.  To her, Lucy was serious business.  Her writers often said that she would do anything...  ANYTHING...  if it would get a laugh and as long as it truly meant something to the story.  Although once a Hollywood glamour girl, Lucille Ball wasn't afraid to look foolish.  If she were, could she have ever done many of her most famous scenes?  Few Hollywood actresses would allow their noses, fake or not, to be lit on fire for the sake of humor.  And, even if they had, who could have pulled off such amazing moments.  Lucille Ball would rehearse tirelessly to get the physical side of her humor just right.  In fact, so seriously did she take her quest for perfection that she sometimes reduced experienced troupers, like Joan Crawford and Tallulah Bankhead, to tears or mania.  It was not cruelty, it was just a strong belief that you gave 100% all the time.

Lucille Ball wasn't just a carricature.  In real life she was a skilled professional.  Not only able to act, sing (much better than Lucy Ricardo) and dance, but following her divorce from Desi Arnaz, she was the first woman to run a major production company - Desilu.  Not willing to be a figurehead, Lucille made tough decisions and took an interest in areas that she'd never even considered before.  Truth be told, Desi was still her chief sounding board when it came to major decisions about the studio.

Although her career clearly came first, Lucille Ball was a wife and mother, as well as a devoted daughter to her mother and a supportive friend to many.  She was also approachable to her fans.  If you were to visit her home in Beverly Hills today, you would find the house much altered.  But, you would also be surprised by the lack of gates and fences.  Not one to be afraid of her fans, had you the inclination during her lifetime, you could easily have gone trick-or-treating or caroling at the Ball/Arnaz home.  And who would have given you the candy?  Lucy herself.

This weekend, Jamestown, NY os celebrating Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.  To me, and millions of other, Lucy is ageless.  She'll never be less than that friend you'd welcome into your home each week (or now with DVD's anytime you want) for guaranteed laughter and entertainment.  Really, can you think of a more wonderful legacy than that?  Even over twenty years after her death, people all over the world still love Lucy.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Jake! I also love the Long, Long, Trailer and still get stressed out watching it.