June 04, 2007

Mary and Bill Rapaport - Major Contributors to Lucy's Hometown

Mary and Bill Rapaport, who is a University of Buffalor Professor, spend their weekends in Lucille Ball's hometown of Jamestown, NY. Bill Rapaport is a former resident of Jamestown and along with his wife, Mary, are the major donors behind the Desilu Playhouse which is located in Jamestown.

The Desilu Playhouse is a collection of vintage memorabilia, costumes and set recreations from the iconic TV series that is named in honor of the Hollywood studio where "I Love Lucy" was filmed. The collection is the result of the Rapaports' gift of $500,000 to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown in 2005.

In addition to their support of the Desilu Playhouse, the Rapaports also have purchased and preserved Lucille Ball's childhood home in Celoron, a small village outside Jamestown on Chautauqua Lake. Mary Rapaport has worked hard to restore the residence to its original 1920s appearance, Rapaport says, based on the memories of Cleo Smith and Lucille Ball's late brother, Fred, who died several months ago.

Although the house is a private residence and not open to the public, Rapaport notes visitors can see it on a bus tour of historic Lucy landmarks in Jamestown.

Read the rest of the story in the University of Buffalo Reporter!

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