September 29, 2006

The Last Days of Lucille Ball

In his book, The Last Days of Dead Celebrities, Mitchell Fink describes Lucille Ball among 15 other celebrities in their final hours. In her last years, the zany and outgoing Lucille Ball turned into a bitter, depressed recluse who was sick of herself and resentful of the star-stoking machinery that had made her a household name and a wealthy woman. Fink quotes an expiring Lucille Ball remarking, "I'm so tired of myself".

Mitchell appeared on The O'Reilly Factor back on June 2nd for an interview and discussed Lucy. Now, I'm not a fan of O'Reilly and consider him one of the right-wing problems in this nation propagating the lies of this administration and serving as a tool to further it's propaganda and the GOP crimes against Americans.

Following is a transcript of that show:

O'REILLY: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, many of us grew up with Lucy, Lucille Ball, perhaps the most successful comedic actress in American history. Ms. Ball died in 1989. Not much was known about her last days, until now.

A new book called "The Last Days of Dead Celebrities" chronicles Lucy's final weeks and the author, Mitchell Fink, joins us now.

You know, 10 or 12 people that everybody knows.

MITCHELL FINK, AUTHOR, "THE LAST DAYS OF DEAD CELEBRITIES": Fifteen actually.

O'REILLY: And the Lucille Ball chapter, I thought, was the most interesting. Because I didn't know, after she disappeared from TV in the '80s. Her last show was a bomb. Right?

FINK: A bomb that was really driven by her husband, Gary Morton, the failed comic.

O'REILLY: Right.

FINK: He wanted her to do it because he really wanted the money.

O'REILLY: But nobody remembers that last show. Everybody remembers "I Love Lucy", which is still in reruns today. And this woman was loved by the American public. Why, then, couldn't she have enjoyed her retirement for her last years?

FINK: What happened, when Desi Arnaz died in December of 1986, that was the beginning of the end for Lucy. And for the next 2 1/2 years was a very slow and sad decline. She was very sad. I was taken by that sadness, too. And her last days were really those kind of days that she didn't want to be around anymore.

O'REILLY: But she was divorced from Arnaz for so many years.

FINK: And married to someone else.

O'REILLY: Why -- why would his demise...

FINK: She never stopped loving him

O'REILLY: Is that right?

FINK: She was in love with him until the day she died.

O'REILLY: Why did she get divorced then?

FINK: Because he was a very difficult man to live with. It was acrimonious. There was a lot of drinking. There was a lot of womanizing and -- but he never stopped calling her. And she never stopped taking those calls, and she loved him.

O'REILLY: All right. Now even so, a woman like this, who all America loves. She's in retirement, she has enough money, she's living up in the Hollywood Hills. And you have a great story in the book about how they wanted to honor her along with Bob Hope at the Academy Awards. She couldn't even enjoy that.

FINK: She couldn't enjoy it so much that when Hope called her and he said, "They want us to do something," 1989. It was the year that "Rainman" won. And Hope said, "You've got to so this." She didn't want to put on the wig. She didn't want to put on the dress, but she went. She went because Bob hope asked her to.

Afterwards, she didn't want to -- she wanted to go right home. She wanted -- instead of going to Swifty Lazar's party. She wound up going to Swifty's party at Spago. Every famous person was there. They all went and kissed her ring, and she couldn't have cared less.

O'REILLY: Why? Why couldn't she enjoy her fame, take the acknowledgments, take the accolades from the younger performers?

FINK: Because she -- I think she expected that everyone wanted her to be the Lucy of old, and she wasn't that Lucy anymore. Because when you have to put on a red wig and when you have to go out and you have to smile. She had had a stroke the year before. And so she slurred her words a little bit. She was embarrassed.

O'REILLY: Really? So you think the pressure of the old Lucy that we're looking at right now in her older days, she didn't want to have people disappointed?

FINK: Here's the truth of what happened, because I was standing there that night in 1989. She comes out of Spago, expecting to see her car. There's no car there, only hundreds of fans across the street. She walks out to the middle of the street. She tilts her head back. She pulls up her dress, hikes it up and she starts to dance. You know, she was a show girl, and that's how she started out.

O'REILLY: Right.

FINK: The crowd went wild. They went crazy. "Lucy, Lucy, they're yelling. She gets into the car. She goes home and she never tells a soul about that, soaking up that adulation. And yet, it mattered not at all to her.

O'REILLY: Nothing?

FINK: Nothing.

O'REILLY: It's amazing. And then a few weeks after that she died from a heart aneurysm.

FINK: That's right.

O'REILLY: And still today, though, I believe the woman is by far and away the most beloved performer of our generation.

FINK: There's no question. If you could have been there at Spago, they all came up to her.

O'REILLY: "The Last Days of Dead Celebrities". Mitchell Fink, thanks for coming on. We thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this bit of insight to the last days of Lucille Ball. I admit, I love her most as a wacky-funny, henna-red-haired housewife. But, it is sad that she couldn't feel good to be just who she'd become. It's tough to out-do your former-famous self. I saw in her in "Stone Pillow". I was mixed about that movie. Good to see her in a movie at the age she was, but, I just didn't like her gruff character. I suspect she was like that, at least somewhat, in real life. But, again, it's that "zany Lucy Ricardo: that is so remembered and beloved of her. Anyway, thanks again.

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