June 23, 2007

Bicycle from I Love Lucy Pilot Show on Display

The Rapaports add another treasure to the Lucy-Desi Archives. The world’s smallest bicycle as Seen on “I Love Lucy” is now on display at Desilu Playhouse in Lucy’s hometown.

In March of 1951, Pepito Perez rode the world’s smallest bicycle in the pilot of what was to become the most widely viewed series ever on television. As “Pepito the Spanish Clown”, he again rode this tiny two-wheeler in episode 52 of “I Love Lucy”, “Lucy’s Showbiz Swan Song”, that first aired on December 22, 1952.

Thanks to the continuing generosity of Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center benefactors Bill and Mary Rapaport of East Amherst, New York, this historic prop is now one of the artifacts in the Lucy-Desi Museum’s collection. A special case has been constructed to exhibit it, and visitors to the Desilu Playhouse can now see it in all its tiny glory! The Desilu Playhouse is the “I Love Lucy” museum in the Rapaport Center in Jamestown, New York, Lucille Ball’s hometown.

A long-time friend of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Perez was responsible for helping develop Lucy and Desi’s 1950 vaudeville act that toured the country to prove to CBS Television that the American public would accept the redhead and the band leader as a comedy team.

This bicycle is the most recent gem from the estate of Pepito Perez that the Rapaports have contributed to the Lucy-Desi Center. Others are two costumes that Pepito wore in “I Love Lucy” -- a 13-piece clown outfit and a lion tamer ensemble complete with safari hat and bullwhip -- and the frog costume William Frawley wore in “Little Ricky’s School Pageant”, episode 163, that aired for the first time on December 17, 1956. The Rapaports also donated Lucille Ball’s first Hollywood contract to the Center.

In expressing the Lucy-Desi Center’s appreciation, Executive Director Ric Wyman noted, “We were overwhelmed with Bill and Mary’s generosity in initially making the Desilu Playhouse possible. Their continuing support means that the thousands of fans who’ve already visited Jamestown’s two museums will be able to enjoy wonderful new treasures when they return. The Rapaports have more than earned the enormous gratitude of all of us at the Center and fans everywhere.”

June 21, 2007

Lucy and Ethel Mattel Doll Has Arrived

The long awaited news on the Lucy and Ethel Mattel Barbie has arrived! It's just as I had predicted on this blog - it's Lucy and Ethel in Episode #69, "Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress".

It was just released to retail stores including Walmart today! As all Lucy fans know, this is a hilarious episode where Lucy and Lucy wind up buying and then wearing the same dress during a televised talent show for their Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts League.

Be sure to check out our "Everything Lucy" store and order your duo through Amazon.com in order to support our site and this Blog!

Also as you know, the second Lucy doll this year is from the Pilot episode where Lucy plays Pepito the clown. This doll will be available in October 2007.

ATourist in Her Own Hometown

An article in The Post-Journal of Jamestown, NY is written by someone who grew up in the 80s and watched Lucille Ball's I Love Lucy in syndication. She travels through Jamestown discovering why all the tourists are flocking there every year.

Taking the time to wander in your own hometown can teach you about local history and also remind you of things you may have forgotten. I encourage everyone to became a tourist for a day.

June 19, 2007

Lucille Ball Movie Collection Out Today!

For all those Lucille Ball fans - the long awaited Film Collection that includes Mame is out in retail stores today!

The Lucille Ball Film Collection, as reported here last month and previously in March contains six of Lucille Ball Films! Critics Choice (1963), Dance Girl Dance (1940), Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), The Big Street (1942), Best Foot Forward (1943), and the long awaited DVD release of Mame (1974).

Several reviews are in on the Film Collection. A review by Sarah on Collider.com states "for those who can see her beyond her signature character, the Lucille Ball Film Collection goes highly recommended."

Another review by Peter Nelhaus for Screenhead says "The older films should be of greater interest to film fans."

Also out today on DVD is the national release of another Lucille Ball film, "Best Foot Forward". This had been previously released last year as well as an Amazon.com exclusive and was reported here.

Last month, "Without Love" starring Lucille Ball was released as part of the Katharine Hepburn Collection. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn are the star players in this 1945 movie. Lucille Ball co-stars in this film as Katherine Hepburn's cynical secretary, Kitty Trimble. Randall Byrn gave the review on this Box Set for BC Magazine.

Next month in July, "Easy to Wed" which starred Lucille Ball will be available as part of the Esther Williams Box Set. Currently this film is not slated to be released separately from this set. The box set will include "Bathing Beauty," "On an Island With You," "Easy To Wed," "Neptune's Daughter" and "Dangerous When Wet." None of these films have been previously released on DVD.

Be sure to order your DVD copies of all these releases through the "Everything Lucy Store" at youns.com to support our site and this blog!

June 06, 2007

Lucille Ball's Snail Waiter Dead at 92

Maurice Marsac, who played the French Waiter in the episode Paris At Last died of cardiac arrest May 6th in Santa Rosa, California. He was 92, born March 23, 1915 in La Croix, France, Marsac played many roles as a waiter in his long career.

His role in the Lucy episode is unforgetable, it's one of my favorites. He serves Lucy escargot, which she does not realize is snails. When he brings them to her, she comments "Waiter, this food has snails in it." When she learns that this is what escargot is, she then says, "Well, I might be able to eat them if I had ketchup." A fiasco erupts and she winds up in jail (not for the escargot but for counterfeit francs).

Another episode of "I Love Lucy" that Marsac appears in is Ricky Asks for a Raise. In this episode he also played the headwaiter in Ricky's Tropicana Club.

You can read more about Marsac's passing in the LA Times.

June 05, 2007

Vote to Help Release Lucille Ball Shows on DVD

Now that all Lucy fans have their DVD copies of the complete series of "I Love Lucy" as well as "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour", how can we get Lucille Ball's other TV Series released on DVD?

You can help out by voting for the release of the remaining series, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, and Life With Lucy at TV Shows on DVD. Other sites to make your voice heard is the Internet Movie Database and Sitcoms Online.

Although, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. are on the Board of The Lucy-Desi Center and Museum in Jamestown, NY they do not own the rights to any of these shows and can do very little for their release.

It is only you - the fans - that can make your voices heard by continually petitioning for their release. Currently Paramount Home Entertainment owns the rights to all the remaining TV series.

According to TV Shows on DVD, The Lucy Show (1962) the DVD rights are owned/licensed by BCI Eclipse and Paramount Home Video. BCI Eclipse has only released 30 Public Domain shows from The Lucy Show in a variety of combinations - but they are still only the same 30 episodes and not the complete series.

Here's Lucy (1968) is owned/licensed by Paramount Home Video and Shout! Factory. The only release by Shout Factory is the "Best Loved Episodes" DVD which contains 24 episodes of the series and not the complete show.

Life With Lucy (1986) is owned/licensed by Paramount Home Video. No official DVD has been released to the retail market on this series. The Lucy-Desi Center does have all the original releases of this show as they were donated to them by Aaron Spelling who produced the show. There are only 13 episodes filmed and only 8 of them made it on air. You can find the complete series from individuals that have taped the show back in the 80s and have made copies onto DVD format but alot of these shows are not the best of quality. If you are a huge Lucy fan, this may not matter much - contact "Everything Lucy" on how you may be able to obtain copies of this series on DVD.

The voting stats for each of the shows as reported by TV Shows on DVD as of this story (June 5th) are:

The Lucy Show
Unreleased Rank: 315th
Overall Rank: 699th
Season Set: 692 (98%)
Best of: 129 (18%)
Individual Episodes: 103 (15%)
Total Number of Voters: 703

Here's Lucy
Unreleased Rank: 452nd
Overall Rank: 912nd
Season Set: 522 (97%)
Best of: 104 (19%)
Individual Episodes: 78 (15%)
Total Number of Voters: 537

Life With Lucy
Unreleased Rank: 753rd
Overall Rank: 1299th
Season Set: 361 (99%)
Best of: 78 (21%)
Individual Episodes: 74 (20%)
Total Number of Voters: 366

As you can see from the number of voters, it doesn't look like many Lucy fans are voting for these shows. I don't believe it's because we aren't passionate, it's just that the web site may not be known or is ranking well in search engines. So, now that you do know - register with TV Shows on DVD and let your voices be heard!

You may also contact Paramount Home Entertainment, which was previously known as Paramount Home Video. Maybe if they hear from enough Lucy fans, they will start to consider releasing these remaining series on DVD.

Let's work together and get these remaining Lucille Ball TV shows out to the retail market!

June 04, 2007

Desi Arnaz Office Chair on Exhibit

A chair that once sat in Desi Arnaz's office at Desilu Cahuenga Studios has found its way to the Lucy-Desi Museum in Lucille Ball's hometown, Jamestown, New York.

Donated by the family of Jess Oppenheimer, the show’s creator, this green Barcalounger was one of a pair that decorated the Desilu Productions’ president’s office in the early 1950s. Vintage photographs of Desi’s office in Hollywood have been found that picture the chair with the writers of “I Love Lucy”.

Ric Wyman, executive director of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, oversaw the pick up and crating of the chair during a recent trip to Los Angeles. He met with Mrs. Estelle Oppenheimer and her son, Gregg Oppenheimer, at the Oppenheimer home in Brentwood where the recliner had been since Desi gave it to Jess in 1956.

Of his family’s gift to the Lucy-Desi Center, Gregg Oppenheimer noted, “I’m pleased that Desi’s chair will finally end up where it belongs, at the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center.”

Ship Smart, Inc., a highly respected small move company based in Aptos, California, was selected for the job of transporting Desi’s chair from Los Angeles to Jamestown, New York. “We’re honored to have been the firm chosen by the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center to transfer Desi’s chair from Los Angeles to the Lucy-Desi Museum in her hometown,” said Tim Kessler, Vice President of Ship Smart. “Lucy and Desi have left an amazing legacy and I’m personally happy to know that Ship Smart has played a role in delivering a significant artifact to their museum for their thousands of fans to enjoy.”

The chair is being incorporated into the Lucy-Desi Museum’s new exhibit titled “From The Collection Of...” which highlights unique Lucy-Desi items from other people’s collections. In addition to the chair (from the collection of the Jess Oppenheimer Family), currently on display are a dress Lucille Ball wore in the 1963 film Critic’s Choice (from the collection of Jane Withers), a cowgirl costume Lucy wore on The Donny & Marie Show in 1978 (from the collection of the costume’s designer, Ret Turner), and a ceramic dessert and coffee set Lucy owned (from the collection of Amy and Desi Arnaz, Jr.).

These treasures can be seen in the Lucy-Desi Museum at 212 Pine Street in Jamestown, New York. The Museum’s hours are 10 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Saturday and 1-5 pm on Sundays.

Lucille Ball Film Coming to "Stage"

The 1937 film that featured Lucille Ball as a struggling actress in a boarding house in New York, Stage Door, is coming to theatre.

Arlington, VA's American Century Theater will bring George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's Stage Door to life from June 21st through 24th as part of its "Rescue Series."

The scene is a boarding house for aspiring stage divas, and during the evening we get to know all of them. There are love affairs, betrayals, wise-cracks, violence, tragedy and comedy aplenty, and authors Kaufman and Ferber keep all the goings on lively and beautifully synchronized so that Stage Door is just plain great. And the play inspired an all-star film version (including Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Ann Miller and many more) that took such liberties with the plot and dialogue that Kaufman referred to it ruefully as Screen Door, as press notes describe.

"Stage Door is the perfect show for the American Century Theater’s Rescue Series," says Artistic Director Jack Marshall. 'Rescues,' which has presented such classics as Detective Story and last season’s W.W.II musical revue Call Me Mister, gives area audiences a free opportunity to see top talent in a thoroughly staged reading of a grand show from the past…the kind of big and risky shows that most current theater companies no longer produce in these days of scaled down casts and budgets. The director of Stage Door is Terry Kester, who did superb work with the TACT production of The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan."

Thanks to the support of Arlington County, Stage Door will actually be on a proscenium stage, and for once, the perennially sold out Rescues performances will have plenty of seats: the show will be performed in Gunston Art Center’s large Theater One.

Stage Door producer Ellen Dempsey (It Had to Be You) will bring a cast that area audiences will recognize. "Seeing a full cast performance of a show like Stage Door is a rare treat," says Marshall. "Getting to see it free is a gift. But that’s what 'Rescues' is: our gift to theater-lovers who appreciate the best work of American playwrights.

The American Century Theater is a 501 (c) (3) professional nonprofit theater company dedicated to producing, great, important, and neglected 20th Century American plays and playwrights. TACT is funded in part by the Arlington County Cultural Affairs Division of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, numerous foundations and many generous donors.

Stage Door by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman will be presented at Theater One, Gunston Arts Center, 2700 South Lang Street in Arlington. All tickets are free of charge, but reservations are recommended. TACT subscribers are entitled to first choice of seating. Performances are June 21, 22 and 23 at 8 PM, and June 24 at 2:30. For reservations, call 703-553-8782 or go to: www.americancentury.org.

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!

Auction Featuring Lucille Ball Memorabilia Fetches Half-Million

An auction held by Old Town Auctions in Hagerstown, Maryland rang up over half-million in sales in this "no internet" auction held May 11th-12th. Billed as a "no-Internet" event, the auction attracted around 175 live bidders as well as many absentee and phone bids. The sale did not feature online bidding in any form.

A very special portion of the sale was devoted to a collection of Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy memorabilia, and according to Keith Spurgeon, it attracted a legion of Lucy fans from all over the U.S.A. and Canada. A Santa suit actually worn by Lucy for the 1956 Christmas show rang up $1,760. And a very rare 1952 Desi Arnaz toy conga drum in its original box added new meaning to Ba-Ba-Lu as it soared to $6,600. Items from the licensing division of Lucy and Desi’s Desilu empire included a letter opener for an eye-opening $2,190 and a coffee mug with ceramic coasters for $1,320.

Old Town Auctions will hold a fall auction featuring toys, antique advertising, coin-ops and mechanical music, and pop culture memorabilia at a date and venue to be announced in the near future. Read the complete story for more information.

June 01, 2007

Lucy-Desi Days Festival Slideshow and Photos

If you missed the Lucy-Desi Days in Jamestown this past weekend, you can still "relive" some of the events - or if you did attend, share the memories.

The Lucy-Desi Museum has posted a slideshow of pictures from the weekend festivities. Much thanks goes out to them for these great photos for all the Lucy Fans throughout the world.

A Blog has been devoted to the Lucy Fest which has each days events posted during the festival.

Lucille Ball Shared Common Disease

Lucille Ball shared the same disabling, crippling disease that afflicted the famous French painter Renoir, and actress Kathleen Turner among over 40 million other people in the U.S. according to Buzzle.com.

Comedy queen Lucille Ball of "I Love Lucy" fame had rheumatoid arthritis when she was 17 but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams. Her first attack came while she was working as a model for Hattie Carnegie’s famous dress shop. She felt excruciating pain in her legs and the doctor who saw her said she would probably end up in a wheelchair as a result of the disease. Lucy was later referred to an orthopedic clinic near Columbia University where she was given experimental "horse serum" shots for several weeks that drained her money but didn’t stop the pain. Frightened and discouraged, she returned to her parent’s home in Jamestown, New York.

"Gradually the pain subsided and finally one day with the support of her father and doctor, Lucy stood up, feeling wobbly and unsteady. Her left leg was now somewhat shorter than her right leg and it pulled sideways. To correct this, she began wearing a 20 - pound weight in one of her black orthopedic shoes. Though Lucy had residual pain she was able to take a part offered her with the Jamestown Players and she later returned to New York City in search of her dreams," said Carol and Richard Eustice - the people behind About.com’s Arthritis Guide who both have rheumatoid arthritis as well.