August 31, 2011

Lucille Ball Celebration Video Slideshow

For those who were not able to make it to the Lucille Ball 100th Birthday Celebration in Jamestown this past August 6th, here is some video picture shots. Put together by Jaime Vermeulen.

August 24, 2011

The Woman Behind Lucy’s Laughs

Had you met her casually with no clue as to her identity, you would never associate Madelyn Pugh Davis with the outlandish behavior and outrageous situations personified by Lucille Ball in her madcap heyday.

Yet the quietly elegant, soft-spoken Davis, who died in April at 90, was the sole female writer for “I Love Lucy.” And its star, whose 100th birthday is being observed this weekend, was that rare celebrity whose given name alone conjured instant recognition, long before Oprah or Madonna or even Cher. But unlike those women, who became famous for basically being themselves, Lucy’s enduring fame is embedded in a fictional character with whom she shared a first name, a husband, an artificial hair color and very little else.

The fact of the matter is that the legend of Lucy is a tale of two women.

Adjectives that have been applied to the character Lucy Ricardo include funny, crafty, vulnerable, hapless, loveable — none of them quite apt when it came to describing the serious, guarded, literal-minded perfectionist Lucille Ball. But because of the actress’s internalization of the role and the continual visibility of her performances in reruns, those qualities continue to be projected onto her by generations of viewers. Her talent was such that na├»ve 1950s TV audiences actually believed she was improvising as she went along.

It took the considerable efforts of Davis and her lifelong writing partner, Bob Carroll Jr., in concert with their mentor, the producer and head writer, Jess Oppenheimer (and in later seasons, the writing team of Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf), to create the scripts that enabled the all-business actress to transform into the woman-child that the world came to adore. And the process was not always harmonious; Ball’s husband and co-star, Desi Arnaz, gifted with people skills and an appreciation for talent, often stepped in to bridge the occasional gulf between dubious star and ambitious comedy writers. When one scene called for Lucy to milk a cow, upon seeing the mangy creature on the set for the first time the appalled Ball turned to Davis and said, “You wrote it, you milk it.”

The quick-witted Davis brought a sense of propriety and good taste to the table. Through extensive interviews I conducted with her over the years, it was clear she respected limits. She knew what a woman could and could not do and remain a “lady” (a desirable trait to many at the time) because she was the genuine article. While by most accounts Davis and Ball weren’t particularly simpatico — the former reliably light and amusing, tactful and considerate, the latter sometimes harsh and often humorless — they were for the purposes at hand the perfect complement to each other.

But the “girl writer,” as Davis was called back in the day because she was one of the very few women in radio and television, didn’t just ride herd on etiquette and outlandishness. Because of her sex and then-requisite secretarial training, the typing of the scripts fell to her too, and so did trying out the plots’ more demanding physical stunts — including dipping chocolates at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles and carrying three dozen eggs in her blouse — to determine if they would sit right with a woman or, worse, be too dangerous for the star.

Nowhere in the series is a feminine sensibility more apparent than in the friendship between the Lucy and Ethel characters, a relationship equally as important as — and in many ways more substantial than — the traditional marriage around which the series was centered. The camaraderie, the compassion, the conspiracies and the intimacy the two women shared — not to mention the jealousy, rivalry, squabbling and indignation — are all rendered on the page. The scripts are full of exchanges of knowing glances and the subtle sending of disapproving signals whenever the conversation takes an undesirable direction. There is an undercurrent of communication between the two whenever the men — or anyone else, for that matter — are in the room.

To her credit Ball had no illusions about the recipe for the success of her character or her role as conduit, however sterling. She consistently cited her writers at every opportunity, both in private and in public. Upon accepting the Emmy Award for best situation comedy in 1954 — a year before a category was established for comedy writing — the star asked, “It wouldn’t be right to call our writers up here and give it to them, would it? But I wish we could.” (Despite two nominations in subsequent years, the writers never received an Emmy for their work on the show.)

Tellingly Ball referred to the highly detailed, all-capital-letters stage instructions in every script as “the black stuff,” and it was upon that she depended to map out such intricate and spontaneous-seeming routines as the “Vitameatavegamin” commercial, accidentally setting fire to her putty nose while in disguise and many other moments, right down to eye movements, facial expressions and body language.

While Desi Arnaz may have been the “I” of “I Love Lucy,” Madelyn Pugh Davis was its eye. She corrected, she judged, she leavened. By her very nature she helped refine its broad physical comedy with thoughtful details, imbuing it with an unlikely believability that transformed it into a perpetual showcase for the foibles of human nature.

Davis’s memoir of those years, “Laughing With Lucy,” a collaboration with Carroll, was published a few years ago. In it her unassuming attitude toward her singular career as a television pioneer, and a female one at that, is reflective of her essence; it just wasn’t right to brag. And, true to form, at the very beginning of her book, she said she thought that writing unsavory things about people after they died was “tacky.” Readers were thus not to expect an iota of dirt about the star for whom she wrote.

It was the ladylike thing to do.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 7, 2011, on page AR15 of the New York edition with the headline: The Woman Behind Lucy’s Laughs.

August 19, 2011

Five Facts You Never Knew About "I Love Lucy"

Here are 5 facts about her most successful series, I Love Lucy, which debuted on CBS in 1951:

1. Everything on I Love Lucy was scripted.
Despite what seemed like ad-libbing, Ball made sure each moment of the show was rehearsed and perfected. Ball said on the commentary of the 1991 Criterion laserdisc Criterion Television Classics: I Love Lucy, "Because Viv [Vivian Vance] and I believed, and because we knew what we were going to say and because we were thinking, we were listening to each other, and then reacting and then acting, it came out like may we'd made it up. We never ad-libbed. We never ad-libbed on the set when we were putting it together. It was there."

2. Ball credited writers Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll Jr. for the success of the show.
Ball said (via Criterion Television Classics: I Love Lucy), "Many times when we would review at the beginning of the season, they would say Viv and I ad-libbed our way through some mediocre writing. They have since found out that that was ridiculous. They know how great our writers are because hundreds of people have copied from them. I have such respect for those kids, my writers I call 'the kids,' Bob and Madelyn."

3. I Love Lucy was the first television comedy to use the three-camera format in front of a live studio audience.
Cinematographer Karl Freund developed a system for lighting the set from above so that production wouldn't have to change lighting when camera angles switched. Christopher Anderson of the Museum of Broadcast Communications writes, "Although the technique was not generally used outside of [Ball's production company] Desilu until the 1970s, it is now widely used throughout the television industry."

4. I Love Lucy was more popular than President Dwight Eisenhower.
Eishenhower's presidential inauguration drew 29 million viewers in January 20, 1953. The next day, 44 million viewers tuned in to watch Lucy give birth to little Ricky, accounting for 72% of all U.S. homes with TVs, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

5. The show broke racial and social barriers on television.
I Love Lucy was the first television series to show an interracial couple (Ball and husband Desi Arnaz). It also was the first to feature a pregnant woman playing a pregnant woman, but could not use the word "pregnant" on telecasts, according to the Lucy Desi Center. Additionally, Ball was the first woman to head a Hollywood studio, Desilu, which produced Star Trek, The Untouchables, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and My Favorite Martian.

For more on I Love Lucy - Visit the Everything Lucy website!

August 17, 2011

Lucille Ball Loved Her Gays!

The actress/comedienne, who died in 1989 at age 77, was best known for her bright red hair and screwball antics in I Love Lucy. Her physical comedy — and willingness to go for the joke regardless of how it made her look — proved that women could be every bit as funny as men (even though some men still don't like to acknowledge that fact).

Less public were Ball's progressive attitudes behind the scenes — in business as well as social issues. Her production company Desilu (owned first with husband Desi Arnaz and then solo after their divorce) pioneered the three-camera sitcom, which allowed the show to film with a live audience without interrupting the flow to get different camera angles.

The studio produced some of the top sitcoms of the era, but Ball's vision didn't stop at comedy. In fact, it was she who insisted that the studio produce the original Star Trek.

In 1980, People interviewed Ball on everything from women's liberation ("I've been so liberated I have nothing to squawk about") to substance abuse ("My idea of getting high was a Coca-Cola and an aspirin"). Her thoughts on gay rights were direct and logical — and quite radical for 30+ years ago:

"It's perfectly all right with me. Some of the most gifted people I've ever met or read about are homosexual. How can you knock it?"

One of her gifted friends, out writer/director Lee Tannen, wrote a book about his relationship with Ball in which he recounted a mutual friend telling her how much gay men adored her. She was fascinated to hear that a gay bar in West Hollywood played I Love Lucy marathons. Yet, Tannen told Out magazine that Ball herself wasn’t a gay icon.

"I don't think Lucille Ball is a gay icon," he said. "Lucy Ricardo is a gay icon. Lucy Ricardo was the underdog who was always trying to prove herself, and I think many gay men can identify with that."

Out concurs. "Lucy Ricardo was the perfect gay icon for the post-Stonewall generation. She wasn't a tragic victim like Judy Garland; the only time Lucy Ricardo got plastered was when she swallowed too much Vitameatavegamin. [She] wasn't sharp-tongued like Bette Davis or a monster like Joan Crawford: she was beautiful and funny… Many gay men can identify with kooky ideas that always seem to backfire, like when a gay man in his 40s dyes his hair platinum blond."

"The everlasting appeal of Lucy Ricardo for some gay men is that she's never going to lose the love of her man… Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz got a divorce, but the Ricardos will always remain the almost-perfect couple. The perfect couple would've been Lucy and Ethel as a pair of crazy lesbians."

August 15, 2011

Concert Benefit by Lucie Arnaz

Concert Will Benefit Morris Hall and St. Lawrence Center

Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, joined by Lucie Arnaz, will perform during the concert on Oct. 1.

The Foundation of Morris Hall/St. Lawrence Inc. is pleased to announce that Peter Nero and the Philly Pops will return to the Patriots Theater at the Trenton War Memorial on October 1, 2011, at 8 p.m. This 10th anniversary benefit concert will feature special guest Lucie Arnaz.

Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, is celebrating 40 plus years in show business. She began her career in television on The Lucy Show, opposite her mother, Lucille Ball. She was a regular on Here’s Lucy, and had her own series, The Lucie Arnaz Show. Ms. Arnaz has also been in several movies, “made for television” films, numerous shows, including “They’re Playing Our Song” and “Lost in Yonkers” on Broadway. She starred in the “Witches of Eastwick” in London, and has toured the U.S. and Europe with her nightclub act.

Peter Nero received his first Grammy Award more than 40 years ago. He recorded his first album in 1961 and won a Grammy that year for “Best New Artist.” Since then, he has received another Grammy Award, garnered a total of 10 Grammy nominations and recorded 67 albums. One of Nero’s greatest achievements is the founding of the world renowned Philly Pops, one of the largest independent pops orchestras in the country.

The proceeds of this concert will benefit The Foundation of Morris Hall/St. Lawrence Inc. The mission of the Foundation is to provide dollars towards delivering quality healthcare for uninsured patients and indigent residents at St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center and Morris Hall. It also provides medical equipment for patients and residents that is not reimbursed by healthcare insurance. The Foundation promotes safety education and injury prevention programs in the community for children and caretakers


Tickets are $35 to $85 and can be purchased through the box office at the Trenton War Memorial or by calling (609) 984-8400 or (800) 955-5566 or Patron tickets which include a Champagne Reception with Mr. Nero Ms. Arnaz following the concert can be purchased by calling Jane Millner at (609) 896-9500, extension 2215 or

August 12, 2011

When Lucy Met Desi, She Lied About Her Age

Did you know? Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball eloped together in 1940 and lied about their ages on the marriage certificate. In a time when it was frowned upon for a woman to be older than her husband, the 29-year-old actress lessened their six-year age gap by claiming she 26. Arnaz also listed 25 even though he was actually 23. Four years later, Ball filed for divorce, but because the couple lived together during the one-year waiting period, the divorce was considered void. Nevertheless, the two reconciled and helped launch each other's careers, making them one of the most influential couples in the entertainment industry.

For more on Lucille Ball visit the Everything Lucy website!

August 11, 2011

She really loves Lucy

The day Linda Silver donned a red wig and black polka dot dress was also the day that her image appeared in a Taiwanese newspaper.

A Reuters photographer snapped a shot of Silver, alongside two American women dressed in similar garb in James - town, N.Y., and soon the image had circulated worldwide.

Silver, a Kingston elementary school teacher, was one of more than 900 Lucille Ball fans who participated in a Guinness Book of World Records contest last weekend to beat the world record of Lucille Ball impersonators.

"It was exciting," Silver said. Participants were given a Lucille Ball mask and a T-shirt with a polka dot dress print on it.

"When it was time to go, I said to my husband 'I have the polka dot dress and the wig, I'm wearing that,' because that's more original than the T-shirt," she said.

The world record event was part of the annual Lucy Fest, a five-day celebration of Lucille Ball in her hometown of James - town.

"It would have been Lucy's 100th birthday ... it was also the 60th anniversary of the I Love Lucy shows," Silver said of this year's festival.

This is the eighth year that Silver has made the five and a half hour drive with her husband, Steve, who comes for moral support.

"This year's festival has renewed interest in Lucille Ball again," she said.

Historically, special guests have included Everybody Loves Raymond star Ray Romano, and I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden.

Silver said the festival organizers have been trying to get comedian Carol Burnett to come for years.

"I'd say Carol Burnett was a close second to Lucy," she said, referring to her comedic prowess.

The festival, which annually draws a crowd of more than a thousand people, also features interpreters who act out the main characters of the I Love Lucy show, Lucy and her husband Ricky.

"(In other years) they've had a Lucy masquerade ball, so you dress up as Lucy from your favourite episode," she said.

Though the festival mainly attracts Americans, Lucille Ball has been known to have a global appeal.

"We sat with a couple from Australia that had come just for the Lucy festival," she said.

Silver has a proven passion for all things Lucille Ball, having fallen in love with her shows at the age of 10 during her lunch breaks from school.

"I watched ( I Love Lucy) with my family, with my grandmother mostly," she said. "We ran home for lunch to catch the ... episode while we ate our sandwiches."

For the past 20 years, Silver has become an avid collector of Lucille Ball memorabilia, with an entire basement full of dolls, books, cups, globes, ornaments, chairs and plates dedicated to the famed actress.

In her backyard, Silver also has part of a lilac tree she says used to belong to Lucille Ball in her own backyard.

Since I Love Lucy began, Silver said the shows have never been completely off air.

" I Love Lucy will forever be popular," she said.

Silver said Ball's comedic talent is what makes her so special.

"Every single show that she has ever done makes you laugh," she said. "You just really appreciate her timing, how she can deliver a joke and the whole situation she'd get herself into."

Want more Lucy - visit the Everything Lucy website!

August 08, 2011

'Lucy' look-alikes honor Lucille Ball's 100th birthday

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — More than 900 red-lipsticked, redheaded women — and men — gathered near a "Vitameatavegamin" sign in the hometown of "I Love Lucy" star Lucille Ball to mark her 100th birthday over the weekend, setting a world record for most Lucy look-alikes.

Sporting upswept hairdos and blue-and-white polka dot dresses, Saturday's crowd of 915 Lucy Ricardos established the first Guinness world record in her honor. It was all part of the annual Lucy Fest in Jamestown, which drew fans from as far away as Australia to the normally sleepy town of 30,000 people in upstate New York.

"This is a once in a lifetime experience. It has to be the best time in my life," said Cindy Wilson, 22, of Cleveland, Ohio.

Wilson started watching the "I Love Lucy" show in reruns when she was 7 years old and has a Lucy stick figure tattoo on her left foot, while sitcom husband Ricky adorns her right. She said her fiance's name is Ricky, and joked that's one reason she is marrying him.

Across generational and gender divides, those who love Lucy milled about a downtown plaza under a mural painted with the word "Vitameatavegamin" in three-foot-high letters. For Lucy fans, the well-known tincture made famous on her long-running TV sitcom needs no explanation.

Some revelers recited the word in unison, others sang "Happy Birthday" in honor of what would have been Ball's 100th birthday on Aug. 6.

Amid the hoopla, a man proposed to his girlfriend, both wearing nightshirts imprinted with the image of a polka-dot dress and holding cardboard cutouts of Lucy up to their faces in accordance to Guinness' qualifying guidelines. She said yes and the crowd roared.
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Kelly Wright, a natural redhead from Grand Valley, Pennsylvania simply wore one of her own polka dot dresses to look the part.

Local resident Steve Waterson donned a patterned shirt but was missing the lipstick participants needed to be considered a true Lucy.

Floating among the waves of Lucys were some people dressed as Ricky, played on the show by Ball's real life husband Desi Arnaz, and their TV neighbors Fred and Ethel Mertz, who often baby-sat for Little Ricky Ricardo.

"I Love Lucy" ran for 179 episodes from 1951 to 1957 and has been seen in reruns for decades since.

A fact sheet distributed by the festival sponsor, the Lucy-Desi Center, says 40 million people tuned in to watch the birth of Little Ricky in 1953. That's compared with the relatively modest 29 million who watched the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower the following day.

Michael Stern, whose new book "I had a Ball, My Friendship with Lucille Ball" is the only such account authorized by the children of Ball and Arnaz, told Reuters the relationship began when as a 12-year-old boy growing up in Los Angeles, he got a chance to meet Ball.

"I brought my scrapbook of pictures to her mother and she said 'how'd you like to meet her?"' Stern said.

The two formed a sort of mother, son relationship for years afterward, he said. "She said 'look Michael, you can be my No.1 fan but you've got to get a job and stay in school.'... She was very serious, very down to earth."

The two would often catch reruns of the show in the 1980s. Ball, he said, never laughed at herself on screen.

"She would not critique herself. She would watch Ethel and Fred and Ricky and laugh at the jokes," he said.

The five day festival, which wraps up on Sunday, included performances by comedians including Joan Rivers and Paula Poundstone and cake with a cast of professional actors who impersonated Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel in a re-creation of Ricky's Cuban-themed TV nightclub "The Tropicana."

"Oh, that's a good one," Lucy said, taking forkfuls from other guests' desserts and speaking through a mouthful of cake as the audience roared. "We'll have to get you another one."

Ball died in 1989 and was buried in California. Her daughter Lucie Arnaz had her moved to Jamestown's Lakeview Cemetery, fulfilling her wish to be buried next to her mother, said Lucy-Desi Center Head of Tour guides Susan Ewing.

The Lucille Ball RKO Comedy Collection Vol. 1

Long before she was crowned the queen of TV, Lucille Ball reigned as the "Queen of the Bs" for RKO Pictures, appearing in over 43 films in under a decade. Although she had yet to find her niche, Lucy's prodigious talents, grace and charm as a performer found her much in demand across a wide variety of movies. This collection brings together three rarely seen cinematic treasures from Lucy's RKO days, giving modern audiences a chance to witness a star on the rise. 3 Films on 2 DVDs.


GO CHASE YOURSELF (1938) Before she hitched her hilarious antics to Vincente Minnelli's The Long, Long Trailer, Lucy joined Joe Penner and a slightly shorter trailer in this madcap romp. After bank robbers use her husband's camper to cover their getaway, Carol Meeley (Ball) sets out to prove her hubby is far too dumb to commit a crime.

NEXT TIME I MARRY (1938) Lucy moves up to leading lady in this screwball comedy, served up with inspired humor by Garson Kanin in one of his earliest directorial efforts. In order to claim her inheritance, heiress Nancy Crocker Fleming (Ball) must marry a "plain American Joe." So she does what any self-respecting debutante would do she hires a husband.

LOOK WHO'S LAUGHING (1941) An alluring and glamorous Lucy enjoys top billing in this feature length satire based on the long running Fibber McGee and Molly radio series. Joining Lucy and the McGees (Jim and Marion Jordan) in this rollicking satire are Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, who see Fibber try to persuade an aircraft company to set up shop in the small town of Wistful Vista. James V. Kern, who would later direct I Love Lucy, pens the tale, while screen pioneer Allan Dwan directs.

View the collection at Warner Brothers Archive.

August 07, 2011

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz "Early To Death" (1951) Suspense Radio

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz star in "Early To Death" for Suspense Radio on April 12, 1951.

The Balloonists with Lucille Ball and Danny Kaye

The Balloonists with Lucille Ball and Danny Kaye by FeliciaFallon69

SWCS Creates Lucy Mural

The Southwestern Central School Art Department recently created a mural of Lucille Ball's face made entirely out of cups of coffee. Each of the 4,000 coffee cups was filled with Tim Hortons coffee donated by Tim Hortons of Lakewood. The mural contained more than 350 gallons of coffee. Other sponsors included Jamestown Container, Sam's Club, Quick Solutions and Tops Markets. The cups were sponsored for a $2 donation. The donations payed for a summer art camp for district students this past July.

August 06, 2011

More love for Lucille Ball on Her 100th birthday

So many articles are being written about the upcoming Birthday celebration and festivals for Lucille Ball, I thought I would list out the articles for your enjoyment.

LA Times - August 1, 2011 - More Love for Lucille Ball at 100

NWI News Column - OFFBEAT: Lucy's 100th birthday celebration set for this weekend

International Business Times - We Still Love Lucy After 100 Years (some wonderful photos)

NewsDay - August 1, 2011 - Lucille Ball Comedy Fest Coming Up in Jamestown

Star News Daily - Professional Comedians Flock to Jamestown for Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy

Sun Times - 100 years of Lucille Ball (GREAT Article)

NBC Bay Area - Still Loving Lucy

Talk Movies World - Paley Center NY Celebrates Lucille Ball 100th Birthday

Marlo Thomas - We Love 100

Chicago Theatre Beat - Wednesday Wordplay: Lucille Ball’s 100th Birthday!

The Dunkirk Observer - The show must go on: Comedy icon Joan Rivers to headline 100th birthday celebration for her friend and fellow funny girl

Cleveland Plain Dealer - Lucille Ball's hometown plans a big bash marking the centennial of her birth: close to home

The Morning Call - Lucille Ball is at the heart of Lucy Fest and museums (Includes Video Interview of Museum)

Lucille Ball: Unpublished Photos 'I Love Lucy': LIFE on the Set

Sure, we all loved Lucy, but which one? The rubber-faced Lucy Ricardo of her classic TV sitcom I Love Lucy, undoubtedly. But what about Lucille, the struggling but determined Hollywood starlet who spent two decades lingering in B-movie purgatory? Or the powerful Ms. Ball, the behind-the scenes TV pioneer and the medium's first major female executive? Truth is, Lucille Ball (who was born 100 years ago this week, on August 6, 1911) lived several fascinating lifetimes -- many of them captured by LIFE's photographers on her way up the showbiz ladder.

Here, presents the best never-published photos of Lucy from the magazine's archives -- including this surprisingly sultry 1942 portrait by John Florea, taken when Ball was known as "Queen of the B's" for the string of subpar films that failed to make her a star. Years of dues-paying hard work are apparent in her eyes -- yet there is something innocent, too, an optimism that her big break is just around the corner.

How many Lucys can fit in Jamestown?

Plenty of people will be saying, “I Love Lucy” this weekend in Jamestown as they dress up like Lucille Ball. Jamestown is hoping to set a new Guinness World Record, on Lucille Ball’s birthday, for the most people dressed as television character Lucy Ricardo in one place, at one time.

It’s all part of the annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, also known as Lucy Fest. The celebration has become a tradition in Jamestown, which is Ball’s hometown. But this year, organizers are taking it a step further since it marks her 100th birthday.

Journey Gunderson, with the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy says a huge crowd is expected from across the globe. "We'll have Lucys from Australia, Great Britain, Japan, Canada, and of course a large contingent coming from California and a number of states in between,“ she said. “We expect a minimum of between 500-1000 participants on August 6."

So how will all of those people meet the costume criteria and qualify for the record books? A red up-do hairstyle is required, along with red lips and clothing similar to what Lucy Ricardo wore on an episode of I Love Lucy.

A $5 registration fee includes a basic qualifying costume complete with a Lucy mask, but that just won’t do for some Lucy fans. "We anticipate some very quality look-alikes to be on-hand,“ Gunderson said. “Our Lucy Fans come from around the world for this festival and they do not disappoint when it comes to donning a Lucy resemblance.”

Men, women and children are all invited to take part. Will the public prove that Jamestown truly does “Love Lucy?” Stay Tuned. Registration begins at noon on Saturday, August 6, outside Jamestown City Hall.

The festival runs from August 3-7.

16 Lucille Ball Quotes to Celebrate Her Birthday

What better way to remember Lucille Ball on her 100th birthday, August 6th, than with some famous and humorous Lucille Ball quotes? Few women will ever enjoy the fame and adoration experienced by this American icon. Let these 16 famous quotes remind us of just how unique and fabulous Lucille Ball truly was.

1. "I think knowing what you cannot do is more important than knowing what you can do. In fact, that's good taste."

2. "Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead."

3. "I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done."

4. "The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age."

5. "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more you do, the more you can do... and don't you forget it!"

6. "One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself."

7. "In life, all good things come hard, but wisdom is the hardest to come by."

8. "A man who correctly guesses a woman's age may be smart, but he's not very bright."

9. "Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

10. "Women's lib?...It doesn't interest me one bit. I've been so liberated it hurts."

11. "How I LOVE LUCY was born? We decided that instead of divorce lawyers profiting from our mistakes, we'd profit from them."

12. "I'm happy that I have brought laughter because I have been shown by many the value of it in so many lives, in so many ways."

13. "Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."

14. "I'm not funny. What I am is brave."

15. "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."

16. "I was shy for several years in my early days in Hollywood until I figured out that no one really gave a damn if I was shy or not, and I got over my shyness."

Lucille Ball truly was an inspiration. Not only was she one of the most powerful women in Hollywood in her day, she was also a true class act and a genuinely good person. These 16 Lucille Ball quotes remind us just how much of a difference one person can make in the lives of many.

Happy birthday, Lucille Ball: Looking good for 100

Lucille Ball, the long-stemmed looker born August 6, 1911, came to Hollywood when she was 22. For two decades. mostly at RKO Pictures, she was cast as dime-a-dance dames, b-girls and burlesque queens, ever the wisecracker, never the star. But she had the last laugh.

In the early 1950s, the studios lived in dread of television, refusing to sell their old films for broadcast or permit their stars to appear on the small screen. Nevertheless Ball and her husband, bandleader Desi Arnaz, took their radio show to television, renaming it I Love Lucy. Five years later, she and Arnaz bought the RKO real estate holding for their thriving TV studio, DesiLu. Like other smart, outspoken actresses (Eve Arden and Ann Sothern come to mind), Ball was a big-screen also-ran who became a queen of the small screen. This is not to say that Ball's big-screen career was negligible.

Her television career will be celebrated this weekend on MeTV, which between Friday and Sunday will air 100 episodes of I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show.

On her birthday, which is Saturday, TCM hosts an all-day mini-retrospective of her best-known films. Best Foot Forward (airs at 4:30 pm), Dance, Girl, Dance (6:15 pm) Stage Door (8 pm), The Big Street (9:45 pm) and Easy to Wed (11:30 pm).

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940), directed by Dorothy Arzner, is my favorite of Ball's tough-cookie performances. She plays a burlesque queen, "Tiger Lily" White, loosely based on Gypsy Rose Lee. She's funny, she's smart and she's belatedly compassionate to her co-star, Maureen O'Hara, rival for the affections of the unlikely Louis Hayward.

Your favorite Ball movie? Episode of her television show?  See more at the Everything Lucy website!

August 05, 2011

Lucille Ball Centennial Celebration on TV

TO MARK HER CENTENNIAL Saturday, Lucille Ball, the Queen of Comedy is being honored with TV marathons and a new comic book.

Hallmark Channel: It will air 102 episodes of "I Love Lucy" from 5 a.m. Saturday through 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8.

Turner Classic Movies: Lucy's big-screen career is showcased with a 24-hour block of 14 of her movies starting Saturday at 3 a.m. Highlights include "The Long, Long Trailer," her 1954 romp with hubby Desi Arnaz at 11:30 a.m., and "The Big Street" (1942) at 6:45 p.m., in which Lucy displays her dramatic chops as a callous nightclub singer confined to a wheelchair.

Comic book: In September, Bluewater Productions will release a 32-page commemorative comic book to sell for $3.99 celebrating Lucy's life and career, her contributions to society and her influence on the American public.

Hometown hopes to set Lucy-lookalike record

On August 6, on Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy invites everyone — men, women and children — to participate in the setting of a new world record for “most people dressed as Lucy Ricardo in one place, at one time.”

The “Be A Lucy: Guinness World Record” event is part of the Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy and 100th birthday celebration, which runs Aug. 3-7. The festival includes headliner comedians Joan Rivers (Aug. 4), Paula Poundstone (Aug. 6), kids comedy troop Story Pirates (Aug. 6), eight comedians from San Francisco-based festival co-producer Rooftop Comedy, and the world’s best Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel impersonators.

“We anticipate some very quality look-alikes to be on-hand. Our Lucy Fans come from around the world for this festival and they do not disappoint when it comes to donning a Lucy resemblance,” said Lucy Desi Center for Comedy Executive Director Journey Gunderson.

The official criteria include the signature red up-do hairstyle, red lips, and dress/attire corresponding with something Lucy Ricardo wore on an episode of "I Love Lucy."

“We’ll have Lucys from Australia, Great Britain, Japan, Canada, and of course a large contingent coming from California and a number of states in between. We expect a minimum of between 500-1000 participants on August 6.”

While the $5 registration fee includes a basic qualifying costume — the iconic blue and white polka-dot dress — participants are also encouraged to wear their own costumes. “We’ve got qualifying get-ups for everyone; all ages and all sizes,” added Gunderson.

The record registration begins at noon ET at Lucy Fest’s “Party on the Plaza” at Jamestown’s City Hall, with the officially-required photograph moment — with all Lucys in position — at 2pm. An aerial photograph and video footage are required for official Guinness sanctioning.

Qualifying mask will satisfy the lips and hair criteria for anyone not wearing red lipstick and a red up-do hairstyle. A large quantity of Lucy-red lipstick has been donated by Benefit Cosmetics, a sponsor of the “Be a Lucy” world record. “This will be high-quality lipstick in the right Lucy-shade, so we’re very appreciative of Benefit’s support.”

The mission of the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is to preserve the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and enrich the world through the healing powers of love and laughter through its commitment to the development of the comedic arts.

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Anniversary waltz for Lucille Ball, 'Lucy'

It's time to take a moment to remember why we love Lucy.

A number of tributes, exhibits and events are set to mark the twin milestones this year of the 100th anniversary of Lucille Ball's birth, on Aug. 6, 1911, and the 60th anniversary of "I Love Lucy's" debut, on Oct. 15, 1951.

The backstory of "Lucy" and the many achievements of Ball and Desi Arnaz have been well documented, but it's a legacy of risk-taking, innovation and unparalleled talent that has grown only more impressive with the passage of time.

Through the couple's insistence on producing a show on film from Los Angeles, rather than live in New York, "Lucy" invented the three-camera sitcom, modern editing techniques and the riches of syndication. And Lucy and Desi owned it all, through Desilu Prods., after spending their own money on a pilot to convince skeptical CBS execs that America would warm to a ditsy redheaded housewife and her Cuban bandleader husband.

Three months after the launch of Desilu in April 1950, Daily Variety reported the first rumblings that the pair were about to produce a "tele pilot film" but were keeping mum on details. The following year, the bet-the-farm gamble that Desilu was taking on "Lucy" was palpable in a full-page launch ad that ran in the Sept. 5, 1951, edition.

Variety's review of the "Lucy" bow wasn't a rave, but it hit the mark in noting that the show "should sell lots of cigarettes" for sponsor Philip Morris.

Among the upcoming tributes, the Hollywood Museum on Highland Avenue will unveil an extensive exhibit of Lucy-ana that runs Aug. 4-Nov. 30. Ball's daughter Lucie Arnaz, "Lucy" editor Dann Cahn and other notables will be on hand for the opening night.

For hardcore enthusiasts, there's Lucy Fest, which runs Aug. 3-7 in Ball's hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., which pays year-round tribute to its famous daughter with the Lucy Desi Center. This year's festivities include an attempt to set a Guinness Book record for the number of people dressed as Lucy Ricardo.

Live Lucy Radio Show Event

On August 6, at 3:30pm, two radio plays will be performed onstage before a live audience at the Reg Lenna Civic Center, for nationwide broadcast on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

First up is I Love Lucy: The Untold Story, a new play by Gregg Oppenheimer based on his father's best-selling memoir, Laughs, Luck...and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time. It's a fascinating and funny look behind the scenes at the many obstacles that had to be overcome in order to get I Love Lucy on the air.

That show will be followed immediately by an episode of My Favorite Husband, Lucille Ball's CBS radio sitcom that inspired I Love Lucy. The episode is "Trying to Marry Off Peggy Martin." Originally broadcast on December 2, 1950 on CBS Radio, it was written by I Love Lucy writers Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr., who later turned it into the classic episode of I Love Lucy entitled "Lucy Is Matchmaker."

Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator Jess Oppenheimer, will direct both productions, to be performed in the style of old-time radio programs, with actors standing at microphones on the stage, plus sound effects and music. The total running time for the two plays is approximately ninety minutes.

The productions will feature Desi Arnaz impersonator Adrian Israel, as well as Rooftop Comedy's Costaki Economopoulos, Christina Pazsitsky, Jamie Ward and Nate Bargatze, plus Margo Davis, Len Tobin, Rick Hennigan, Mark Ozog, Gary Yoggy, Barb Pickelhaupt, and Jamestown's own Lee John, Dana Block, Vince Joy Jr., and Daniel Pierce.

And joining the cast for this World Premiere Event will be two Special Guest Stars: Stuffy Singer, a veteran of many classic radio shows including The Jack Benny Program and Our Miss Brooks and such TV series as Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons, and The Bill Cosby Show; and Michael C. Gwynne, whose many TV credits include Kojack, Dallas, Hill Street Blues, Cagney and Lacey, Knight Rider, plus featured roles in such movies as The Terminal Man and Howard Stern's Private Parts.

Tickets are you still available for our Live Lucy Radio Show Event.
Purchase your tickets at the Reg Lenna Box Office - 716-664-2465

Anniversary edition of 'Desilu' book honors Lucille Ball's 100th birthday

It's been 60 years, and we still love Lucy.

Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (It Books), will release a special anniversary edition on Aug. 2 to honor Lucille Ball's 100th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the first episode of I Love Lucy. Ball died in 1989 when she was 77. Coyne S. Sanders and Tom Gilbert tell the behind-the-scenes story of the Hollywood couple's very different public and personal personas.

The anniversary edition's new material includes a forward by TV critic Tom Shales, a preface from the authors and more photos of the Golden Age of Television's "it" couple. The book takes exclusive interviews with family members and co-workers to expose the tumultuous relationship (that ultimately led to divorce) behind Ball and Arnaz's storybook on-camera romance.

To get in the mood to delve into Lucille and Desi's relationship, check out these iconic Lucille Ball quotes from the "Everything Lucy" blog. Or just reminisce a classic Lucy moment.

Lucille Ball Contest winners spending honeymoon in Niagara

NIAGARA FALLS — One lucky Ohio couple is spending their honeymoon in Niagara Falls after winning the national, Lucille Ball Hometown Wedding Competition.

The Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. (NTCC) welcomed Troy Litwiler and Tricia Kren of Poland, Ohio, on Sunday, for a seven-day, six-night honeymoon. The couple won their wedding and honeymoon in a national contest to honor the 100th birthday of Lucille Ball, the star of the television program “I Love Lucy.”

As self-described “huge fans” of the popular television program, Tricia and Troy submitted a video and 20-page application detailing why they’d like to have a 1950’s “I Love Lucy” inspired wedding and honeymoon. Following this past Saturday’s wedding at the Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, the couple traveled to Niagara Falls.

“Our agency is keenly aware of the value of participating in national contests and events such as this which will place Niagara USA in the spotlight as a premier wedding and honeymoon destination,” said John Percy, president and CEO of the NTCC.

As part of the honeymoon package, the NTCC has worked with local tourism partners to provide the couple with the following:

Discovery Passes (Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, etc.), accommodations at the Barton Hill Hotel and Spa, All-American Tour provided by Grayline Tours, Vino Visa Passports, passes to Old Fort Niagara, Whirlpool Jet Boat, Niagara Falls Wax Museum, Lockport Locks and Herschell Carrousel Museum, a horse-drawn carriage by International Weddings & Carriage Rides, dinner at Casa Antiqa, The Bakery and Top of the Falls Restaurant, a gift certificate to Angel-to-Apple Clothing Boutique and a Fashion Outlets gift card.

August 04, 2011

SF diner honors the 100th birthday of TV's First Lady of Comedy, Lucille Ball

The legendary comedienne Lucille Ball will be honored on Saturday, August 6,th 2011 at 2 PM when Lori's Diner, 500 Sutter Street, will unveil one of Miss Ball's costumes once worn in a television special with Art Carney. A large grouping of photographs and ephemera will also be exhibited highlighting her TV and film career.

The exhibition will mark what would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday. Miss Ball was born Lucille Desiree Ball on August 6, 1911, in Celeron/Jamestown, New York. A century has passed since her birth and Lucy remains a household word and the undisputable Queen of TV Comedy. Lori's Diner is planning an all-day salute to the famous redhead which will include a free hamburger for all people named Lucy (with proof of picture I.D.) and free Cokes and coffee all day long at the Sutter Street Lori's Diner! Whoever dresses like Lucille Ball or Desi Arnaz on August 6th and comes to the diner on Sutter Street will receive a free hamburger, fries and Coke for an entire week! There will be a prize for the best-dressed Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

There will also be a special screening of original 16mm film I Love Lucy TV shows in the back room of the diner in honor of the star beginning at 4PM. Lori's Director of Marketing Barry Barsamian is well-known for his collection of Hollywood memorabilia and celebrity wardrobe items. He worked with the unforgettable redhead back in 1986 when he acquired numerous items from her fan club. Back in the late 1970's Lucy had an auction of her wardrobe that benefitted a children's charity and that's how Barsamian got the gown. Never did he dream that by 1986, he would be working with Lucy on a retrospective of her life and career, called The I Love Lucy Birthday Special, produced at KTVU-TV by now-KGO eyes-in-the-sky Stan Burford with Barry as Associate Producer. This program received the highest ratings for the time zone and beat out the then popular show, Dynasty.

President/CEO of Lori's Diner, Mr. Man J. Kim, who is known for his love of nostalgia, film and TV, said "we are thrilled to honor the great Lucille of television's pioneers and an unforgettable talent. We ALL Love Lucy."

The exhibit will run through mid-November 2011. This presentation will replace the Elizabeth Taylor display which has garnered much attention since its installation in April shortly after the she passed away.

Lucille Ball Turns 100; Which Post-Lucy Actress Is The Funniest?

When it comes down to 'the best,' it's hard to agree on just one.

But when it comes to the queen of comedy there is a clear, ubiquitous winner; to quote Mila Kunis, "Lucille Ball is perfection."

Saturday marks what would have been Lucy's 100th birthday, so in honor of the woman who's made 'Vetavitavegamin' a part of the vernacular, we've put together some of the funny ladies who owe their own brand of side-splitting success to the ever-lovable Lucy.

She may still reign supreme, but at least we can put this whole women-aren't-funny-thing to bed.

View 42 of the post-lucy actress' -

What does Hollywood have planned for Lucille Ball's 100th?

She might have passed more than two decades ago, but Hollywood is still preparing itself to celebrate the centennial birthday of one of its’ favorite darlings, Lucille Ball.

After capturing our hearts and feathering our funny bones in her portrayal of Lucy Ricardo, a sizzling redhead with a ditzy best friend and schemes that always backfired on them, Lucy and her husband on the sitcom and in real-life, Desi Arnaz, became comedic royalty.

Now, 60 years after the release of I Love Lucy, the original queen of comedy is being celebrated on what would have been her 100th birthday, August 6th.

What does Hollywood have up its’ magical sleeves?

According to the Los Angeles Times CBS Video released 14 classic episodes of I Love Lucy in June to begin the celebration. You can order those online or purchase them in local retailers. In the coming week, Warner Archive is releasing some of her funny films including Miss Grant Takes Richard and Turner Classic Movies will have a screening of our favorite Lucy films on her birthday.

Then, there’s the America Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre. They will present The Long, Long Trailer and The Dark Corner on Thursday night for her dear fans to reminisce.

The Hollywood Museum puts the cherry on the birthday sundae with the opening of “"Lucille Ball at 100 & 'I Love Lucy' at 60" exhibition. It will be a real treat for fans since they will be privy to costumes, scripts, and even original sheet music! That exhibition continues through November 30th.

Lucy’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz couldn’t be happier at this celebration of her late mother’s life. "It's a nice thing to do to look back and remember when somebody really changed the way we think about things, whether it be Thomas Edison or Lucille Ball," Arnaz told the Los Angeles Times. "I think she would, of course, be extremely honored and proud."

Joan Rivers kicks off Lucy's 100th birthday celebration

JAMESTOWN, NY (WBFO) - This Saturday is Lucille Ball's 100th birthday and the Lucy Desi Center in Jamestown is celebrating the landmark in a big, new way. The center will hold its first annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy.

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But this isn't just a party. The mission of the five-day event is to continue Lucy's "legacy of laughter."

It will feature a comedy college, a comedy showcase and, of course, a line-up of special comedy guest stars. Joan Rivers, a comedy legend in her own right, headlines the event.

WBFO's Joyce Kryszak talked with Rivers by phone for a candid conversation about the state of comedy. Rivers said comedy doesn't need to be revived.

Rivers performs for the the Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy in Jamestown at 8:00 P.M. on Thursday, August 4 in the Reg Lenna Civic Center.

Be A Lucy On Saturday Afternoon

On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Lucy-Desi Center is hoping to get Jamestown into the record books.
As part of the Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy - a celebration of Ball's 100th birthday - the center for comedy is inviting men, women and children to participate in the setting of a new world record for ''most people dressed as Lucy Ricardo in one place, at one time.''
''We need everyone's help to make this record an impressive success,'' said Journey Gunderson, executive director of the center, adding how much fun the event will be for all in attendance. ''Why wouldn't you come downtown to throw on a $5 getup and be a part of something that will officially be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records?''

Registration for the record will begin at noon at Lucy Fest's ''Party on the Plaza'' on Tracy Plaza, with the officially required photograph moment - with all Lucys in position - taking place at 2 p.m.

An aerial photograph and video footage of the event are required by Guinness and are being planned.
All participants must pay a $5 registration fee and will be officially recorded by name in the record. A qualifying mask will satisfy the lips and hair criteria for anyone not wearing red lipstick and a red up-do hairstyle. A large quantity of Lucy-red lipstick has been donated by Benefit Cosmetics, a sponsor of the ''Be a Lucy'' world record.

''This will be high-quality lipstick in the right Lucy shade, so we're very appreciative of Benefit's support,'' Ms. Gunderson said.

The qualifying costume was specially screenprinted by Al-Ross Custom Printing in West Seneca, an official event sponsor. While the $5 registration fee includes the basic qualifying costume, participants are also encouraged to wear their own costumes.

''We anticipate some very quality look-alikes to be on-hand,'' Ms. Gunderson said. ''Our Lucy fans come from around the world for this festival and they do not disappoint when it comes to donning a Lucy resemblance.''

Dress and attire must correspond with an episode of ''I Love Lucy,'' so pre-registration online at is encouraged. There will be staff to judge on-site as well, so bringing an image from the corresponding episode will help guarantee inclusion.

Ms. Gunderson said the idea for the event came from an online contact form in March, and that the center is attempting to track down the woman who submitted the idea.

''The idea came in, we did some research, and couldn't find any other existing record of its kind,'' she said. ''Sharon Bergstrom on our staff submitted a proposal to Guinness, and we had to wait five weeks for the response from the British headquarters. When it arrived and was an official approval, we were ecstatic and laughing, but also scratching our heads and looking at each other saying, So how are we going to do this?'''
After more than four months of planning, the center is prepared to set the record during the festival.

''You can enjoy a cold beer and live music on the plaza, register for the record, throw on your get-up, and then take your place in the history books, right at City Hall in downtown Jamestown,'' Ms. Gunderson said. ''It's going to be a hoot, (and) totally hysterical.''

The record-breaking event will take place in Tracy Plaza on Saturday. Qualifying outfits are available for all ages, shapes and sizes. For more information about the event and the entire Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, scheduled for today through Sunday, visit

August 03, 2011

Minor league baseball team to don Lucille Ball uniforms

The Jamestown Jammers (short season A; NY-Penn League) will be honoring native Lucille Ball in an unusual way: they'll don commemorative jerseys tomorrow festooned with images of Ball and ex-hubby Desi Arnaz.

We've seen lots of commemorative jerseys throughout the years, but none with two pictures on the front. (See for yourself here.) Lucy is a big deal in Jamestown: she was born there on Aug. 6, 1911, and the city hosts the Lucy-Desi Center, dedicated to honoring her legacy as one of America's most popular comedians. The jerseys, to be worn at tomorrow night's game, will help mark the 100th anniversary of Ball's birth in Jamestown and will be auctioned off after the game, with the proceeds to benefit the Lucy-Desi Center.

Together, Russ Ecklund, Matt Drayer and Lou Deppas left the Jamestown Jammers office at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park last Friday night, walked across the concourse and stationed themselves against a wall in anticipation of a photo opportunity.

Before the photograph was taken, the men unfolded two jerseys and in doing so they didn't need to be asked to smile for the camera. Just holding the commemorative uniform tops made them grin from ear to ear.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who made it their personal legacy to make people laugh, would have been pleased.

In honor of Lucy's 100th birthday and in conjunction with the Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy this week, commemorative game jerseys, featuring Lucy and Desi on the front and Lucy's 100th birthday celebration logo on the back, will be worn by the Jammers during their New York-Penn League game Wednesday night against Tri-City. The first pitch is at 7:05 p.m. The jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit the Lucy-Desi Center and winners can, should they wish, have them autographed by the Jammer who wore it.

"To my knowledge," said Deppas, a Lucy-Desi vice president and the chairman of Wednesday's event at Diethrick Park, "I don't think anyone in Minor League Baseball is doing this kind of thing. This is special because of Lucy's 100th birthday and because it kicks off the celebration in Jamestown."

The Lucy-Desi commemorative jersey promotion was first done a year ago with considerable success, according to Deppas.

"It's a win-win,'' he said. "You can't lose whether you're a Lucy fan or a baseball fan. We have 40 jerseys and 40 hats and when they're gone, they're gone. This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because it's Lucy's 100th birthday."

Deppas, who is also a member of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame board of directors, said the Lucy-Desi Center is donating one of last year's Lucy-Desi commemorative jerseys to the CSHOF for display in its museum.

"Being an old sports guy, I jumped all over this one,'' he said.

Hallmark Channel to Commemorate 100th Birthday of Lucille Ball

The centennial birthday of comic icon Lucille Ball is being celebrated by Hallmark Channel with a 48-hour marathon of classic I Love Lucy episodes, kicking off August 5.

Starting August 5 at 6 a.m., Hallmark Channel will begin broadcasting a marathon of classic episodes, running 48 episodes per day, 96 in total. The marathon runs through August 7 at 6 a.m.

Hallmark Channel is the exclusive cable home of I Love Lucy. The network is also set to release a rare, never published, interview between Ball and longtime TV writer/critic Ray Richmond. The interview, My Lunch with Lucy, is being released for the first time to honor Ball's 100th birthday.

Be sure to visit the Everything Lucy website for "everything" on Lucille Ball!

Life With Lucy: 25 years later


By Herbie J Pilato
On Saturday night, September 20th, 1986, the legendary Lucille Ball partnered with producers Aaron Spelling and Douglas S. Cramer, and brought back to the small-screen a sitcom that chronicled the updated adventures of Ball's iconic Lucy persona.

This time, the actress played grand-mother Lucille Barker, who resided in Pasadena, California, with her daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren, and in-law grand-father/hardware-store-business-partner Curtis McGibbons, played by Gale Gordon.

As Lucy fans around the globe very well know, Gordon had appeared with Ball on each of the earlier Lucy incarnations in one capacity or the other. On I Love Lucy (CBS, 1951-57), in which Ball co-starred with husband Desi Arnaz, she had originally cast Gordon as neighbor Fred Mertz. But the actor was unavailable for the role that ultimately went to William Frawley (who later appeared on CBS' My Three Sons with Fred McMurray). Gordon, however, did have the chance to at least guest-star on Love, and its later expanded edition, The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour (CBS, 1957-60)

After Ball and Arnaz divorced, and the Hour was no more, the comedic actress returned to TV with The Lucy Show, (CBS, 1962-68), and this time Gordon was available on a regular basis, and was cast as the banker Mr. Mooney to Ball's Mrs. Carmichael. A few years later, Ball reworked her TV presence once more, and played Lucy Carter on Here's Lucy (CBS, 1968-74) with Gordon portraying brother-in-law Harrison Carter.

Some 12 years after Here's Lucy left CBS, Life With Lucy arrived on ABC.
In between those years, Ball guest-starred on variety programs like The Dean Martin Show, and The Bob Hope Specials, and made a few of her own specials for CBS, some of which had dramatic elements. She then dramatically exited the tiffany network for a short affair with NBC.

Yet it was with ABC's Life With Lucy that the actress returned to her beloved red-headed roots on a weekly basis.

In addition to Gordon's return to her side on Life (as the staple second banana - a position he embraced and revered), Ball hired long-time Lucy scribes Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr., while second husband Gary Morton (a former stand-up comic) joined Spelling and Cramer as Life's co-producers.
The time for Life seemed right. Ball had recently appeared in a highly-rated TV-movie for CBS, titled Stone Pillow, in which she played a homeless woman. Her performance was heralded by critics and Lucy fans alike, and everyone deemed it a period for Ball to come back to weekly TV.
Consequently, Life With Lucy was born.Life+with+Lucy
Unfortunately, it then died a very quick and painful death.

Thirteen episodes were produced, but only seven were aired. The first episode, titled, One Good Grandparent Deserves Another, cleared the Top Twenty in the ratings, but the critics were brutal. In subsequent weeks, the audience dwindled.

The overt negative reactions from fans and critics alike devastated Ball, so much so, she later appeared on The Joan Rivers Show, and wept.
There were attacks from critics and fans about the writing. The show was called archaic and out of step with the times. What's more, Ball was now in her late seventies, and years of smoking and not properly catering to her health (an ironic twist, as her Lucy Barker character from Life was defined as health-conscious) had taken its toll.

In event, the Life complaints had crippled her. Ball was no longer young, and her brand of slapstick comedy had out-worn its welcome, a tad shy of Nick at Nite's retro TV resurgence (which commenced a mere three years later in 1989, with an all-new network dedicated to all old shows).

Life With Lucy was rejected, and the real life Lucy took it personal. She felt unloved, by fans, critics, and colleagues. She was overcome by the insecurities possessed by many performers, particularly, comedic performers. Her skin was not thick enough; her mind-set could not bear the unyielding attacks, of which she simply was not prepared.

As a result, the once enthusiastically-promoted Life With Lucy was no more – and in time, so would be the case with Lucille Ball herself. In 1989, at age 77, she died of heart troubles, or a troubled the form of a ruptured aorta. Ironically, this was same disorder that, in 2003, would kill John Ritter, who Lucy had adored for years as the star of Three's Company (and who guest-starred on Life's second aired-episode, Lucy Makes A Hit With John Ritter).
However one decides to word it, Lucille Ball had been fired, and that was simply something that the esteemed actress had never experienced. It was a development that ultimately proved too much for her to take. A glowing small screen image that was introduced to the world with I Love Lucy, and that classic shows iconic big-heart in its logo, had now died of a broken heart (again, however one decides to word it). Ball's adoring personal and public fans were no where in sight. Seemingly, they had deserted her and dwindled away some thirty years after the world fell in Love with Lucy.

After Ball's demise, millions of Lucy fans then came out of the woodwork and mourned. Lines reaching around the block surrounded the hospital in which she was attended during her final days.
Had Life With Lucy been given a fair shake, the story may have ended differently.

Life With Lucy had its issues, but any new television show needs time find its pace. Life was no different. Its development required patience – from all of those involved with its production, and from Lucy's fans. Had it been granted at least one season, or maybe two, Life would have found its rhythm. The episodes were sweet, and in many instances superior to a few segments that were presented on Here's Lucy.

The Life character of Lucy Barker had infinite more texture than both Lucy Carter on Here's Lucy and Lucy Carmichael on The Lucy Show. Lucy's Carter had legitimate emotions and interactions that were displayed realistically for a TV character in her age bracket (particularly in the era of The Golden Girls, which aired Saturday nights on NBC, one hour after Life).

Lucy Barker interacted with her fellow TV characters in charming ways. Yes, the comedy was somewhat broad, and maybe a little out of date (as well as slightly jarring for viewers who were somewhat aghast to see the aged actress performing so physically for her age). But the show had promise, and it deserved an opportunity to shine.

Upon viewing each subsequent episode, it became clear the show was improving, and that Lucille was having a ball. She allowed her co-stars their comedic on-screen moments, and seemed to delight in their performances in a combined reaction as both Lucy Barker and Lucille Ball.

With a career that spanned decades, Lucille Ball, the actress, could deliver a line of dialogue and dance with the best of them (and she did). Although she could only slightly carry a tune (by her own admission), the spectacular thespian was able to pull off any vocal performance with charismatic appeal. As one of the most outstanding entertainers in the history of the industry, she contributed a great deal to so many in countless ways for ages.

In short, Lucille Ball in her later years deserved more than the heartless attacks and abandonment that she received by way of Life With Lucy.

Herbie J Pilato is a producer/director/writer, and author of a number of media tie-in books (including Bewitched Forever and The Kung Fu Book Of Caine, Life Story – The Book of Life Goes On: TV's First And best Family Show of Challenge, The Bionic Book, and NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book. He's worked for A&E, TLC, Syfy, and Bravo's hit five-part TV series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters. Herbie J is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization that helps to close the gap between popular culture and education. For more information, please see To contact Herbie J, or to order any of his books, email:

August 02, 2011

Tributes abound as Lucille Ball’s centennial approaches

Lucille Ball would have turned 100 on Aug. 6, and it would seem that Americans have loved her for nearly that long. But in fact, it took years for audiences to love Lucy.

She had been kicking around Hollywood for nearly two decades before her performance in the seminal CBS sitcom “I Love Lucy,” which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Her portrayal of the sweetly daffy redhead Lucy Ricardo, whose slapstick antics and schemes exasperated her Cuban bandleader husband, Ricky (real-life hubby Desi Arnaz), turned her into a comic superstar.

Ball, who died in 1989, was a platinum blond when she began as a sexy “Goldwyn Girl” chorine in the early 1930s in musical comedies such as 1933′s “Roman Scandals.” Then she moved off to RKO, working her way from bit parts in such Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical comedies as 1935′s “Roberta.” She was occasionally in “A” films at the studio such as 1937′s “Stage Door” with Katharine Hepburn and Rogers, but she quickly became labeled as the “Queen of the B’s” at the studio.

“She was probably one of the hardest-working actresses in Hollywood,” said Kathleen Brady, author of “Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball.” “At one point, she was making 10 films at once. But somehow she never crossed over” to become a star.

But Ball never gave up. She had “extraordinary perseverance, whether it was about getting pregnant or becoming a major star,” Brady said. “Somehow it took a long time to come together for her.”

Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, is thrilled that everyone is taking her mother’s centennial so seriously. “It’s a nice thing to do to look back and remember when somebody really changed the way we think about things, whether it be Thomas Edison or Lucille Ball,” Arnaz said. “I think she would, of course, be extremely honored and proud.”

Because “I Love Lucy” is on DVD and still airs on TV in reruns, Arnaz is constantly approached by fans of her mother. “I hear the same kind of stories from the same age people decade after decade as if it were the film ‘Groundhog Day.’ It is bizarre to be me.”

CBS Video jumped on the birthday bandwagon in June with the release of 14 classic episodes of “I Love Lucy,” including “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” and “Lucy’s Italian Movie.” Next week, Warner Archive is releasing several of her film comedies, including 1949′s “Miss Grant Takes Richmond,” and Turner Classic Movies will be screening several of her films on her birthday.

The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles will present two of her features Thursday evening: “The Long, Long Trailer,” the 1954 comedy with Arnaz, and the 1946 film noir “The Dark Corner.” And on the same evening, the Hollywood Museum opens its “Lucille Ball at 100 & ‘I Love Lucy’ at 60″ exhibition that features costumes, scripts and even Arnaz’s original recordings and sheet music. The exhibition continues through Nov. 30.

Before “Lucy,” Ball did dramas like 1942′s “The Big Street,” musicals such as 1943′s “Best Foot Forward,” in which she unveiled her new look as a redhead, and even film noirs like “The Dark Corner” with Clifton Webb. But the seeds of Lucy Ricardo began to bloom in the late 1940s, when she started to do several feature comedies such as 1949′s “Sorrowful Jones,” 1950′s “Fancy Pants” with Bob Hope and 1949′s “Miss Grant Takes Richmond.”

She also starred in her first radio show, “My Favorite Husband,” from 1948-51, in which she played Liz Cooper, a happily married middle-class housewife. Ball worked on the radio series with writers Bob Carroll Jr., Madelyn Pugh and Jess Oppenheimer, who penned countless of the “Lucy” episodes.

Arnaz said that once her mother understood she had the power to make people laugh, “she realized, ‘This is what I am supposed to be doing.’ When she hit gold, there was no turning back. She didn’t want to prove herself as a dramatic actress. She said, ‘I found the Lucy character’ and said, ‘This is what I am.’”

SiriusXM to Launch "Redhead Radio: 100 Years of Lucille Ball"

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) today announced that it will launch Redhead Radio: 100 Years of Lucille Ball, a limited-run channel celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the comedy legend with non-stop broadcasts of classic radio shows featuring the comedienne at key moments in her storied her career, as well as interviews with her fans, devotees and fellow comedians.

Redhead Radio will launch at 12:00 am ET on August 6, 2011—the day Lucy would have celebrated her 100th birthday—on SiriusXM channel 82, taking over SiriusXM's RadioClassics for two days. SiriusXM's Greg Bell will host Redhead Radio from The Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy aka "Lucy Fest," the annual community-organized birthday celebration held in her hometown of Jamestown, NY. This year's headliner is comedic icon Joan Rivers.

The wide-range of perspectives and recordings on Redhead Radio offer SiriusXM listeners an extraordinary look into Lucy's life and legacy. Redhead Radio features dozens of episodes of her classic 1940s radio comedy series My Favorite Husband, which inspired l Love Lucy; an interview with stand-up comedian Paula Poundstone—a featured performer at this year's fest—about the influence Lucy has had on her career; and interviews with Lucy impersonators, experts, historians, event organizers and fans at Lucy Fest. The channel will chronicle fan participation in "Be a Lucy," the attempt set the world's record for the most people dressed as Lucy Ricardo in one place at one time. Additional content includes Lucy's guest-starring role on the classic radio dramatic series Suspense; radio versions of her films Fancy Pants (with Bob Hope) and Dark Corner and interviews Lucy did with legendary personalities Abbott & Costello and Bob Hope on their classic radio shows.

For more information please visit Visit for the complete comedy festival schedule, information, tickets and world record registration information.