BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- Fans of the late great Lucille Ball are about to get an exceedingly rare chance to acquire many of the personal effects and mementos of the legendary comedienne – including love letters from Lucy to her second husband, Gary Morton, Lucy’s Rolls Royce, her personal address book and a trio of her favorite backgammon boards – as a trove of Lucy-related material readies for Heritage Auction Galleries Beverly Hills’ July 17 Signature® Music & Entertainment Memorabilia Auction.
This remarkable and likely once in a lifetime offering comes to Heritage via Susie Morton, who married Gary Morton in 1996, seven years after Lucy passed away in 1989. Susie Morton is perhaps better known as Susie McAllister, as she was known during her days as a professional golfer on the LPGA Tour.
“Susie has lived with these relics of Lucy and Gary’s life for more than 10 years,” said Doug Norwine, Director of Music & Entertainment Auctions at Heritage. “She did it out of respect for her late husband and out of respect for Lucy’s amazing legacy. Now she’s ready to part with these treasures as she remodels her house to make it completely her own.”
Lucille Ball, one of the greatest comedic talents of the 20th Century, and the star of television’s I Love Lucy, among her numerous stage and screen credits, was a notoriously private woman, and one who never let the broader public past her Hollywood persona and who treasured discretion above all else concerning her friends and family.
Now, for the first time, Lucy’s private side is being revealed in this amazing archive, especially as evidenced by the various groupings of correspondence between her and Morton that span the 28 years of their devoted marriage. The love letters are especially poignant, consisting of eight different items, including a pretty Valentine's Day card, and a three-page handwritten letter on Hudson-Rissman Decorative Accessories stationery, which the star has signed boldly in blue ink, "Lucy." This letter is quite touching – Lucy had forgotten that morning to wish Gary a Happy Birthday.
"... I love you,” she wrote, “and I know I must have hurt you so much this morning - Please forgive me..."
Lucy and Gary’s 1984 Silver Spur Rolls Royce marks one of the most interesting lots in the grouping and will give one fan an up-close-and-personal relationship with this stylish sedan owned and used by Lucy and Gary in the last years of their happy life together. The car features a white finish with tan vinyl hard top, boasts a powerful V8 engine and the innovative self-leveling suspension that made the model famous. It has vanity plates reading "GARY M” and, perhaps most stunningly, the odometer shows a mere 21,260 miles.
Anyone who knew Lucy well knew of her deep and abiding passion for the game of backgammon – she was known to be a world class player, to have a board in every room, and one by the pool – which she played on a daily basis, without fail. Included in this auction are three portable backgammon boards from Lucy’s personal collection, which will give collectors a chance to ponder the same points on one of three boards that the legendary redhead herself used to consider as she schooled her various opponents.
Also of note, among so many notable lots, is Lucy’s Personal Address Book dating to the mid-1960s. Its contents include addresses and phone numbers for dozens of celebrities of the time, among them Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Ethel Merman, Edward G. Robinson and many more, as well as her perennial TV co-stars Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon and her former husband, Desi Arnaz, complete with much annotation, some of it in Lucy's own handwriting.
Lucy was the recipient of numerous awards and honors during her prolific life, and several of these are up for auction as part of this collection, including her Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award from 1988, her TV Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award from 1984 and her 1984 Vision Award from the Center for the Partially Sighted in Los Angeles.
Lucy and Gary were also avid art collectors, and devoted a great amount of passion to the paintings in their home. Besides the quality of the artwork, the couple were frequently photographed in front of their favorites and, where applicable, those photographs come with the work itself. Among the highlights are L'Opera, Paris by Regis (Count) de Bouvier de Cachard, pictured in the auction catalog cover, The Joker (1965) by Albert Locca, one of Lucy’s favorite pieces, and New York Traffic by Meinsdorff.
“This barely begins to touch the surface of how deep this archive goes,” said Norwine. “We have a huge selection of artwork, dishware, silverware, perfume bottles and various trinkets that came straight from Lucy. The things in this grouping are literally the things Lucy lived with every day during the last portion of her life.”
Heritage Auctions, founded by Steve Ivy and Jim Halperin, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.