January 28, 2013

Valentine's Day Event at Lucy Desi Center

Enjoy an evening of romance and laughter with the "First Couple of Comedy" at the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy on Saturday, February 16. First enjoy a cocktail hour in the Desilu Studios where you can mingle among original costumes, props, Emmy Awards, and exact replicas of the I Love Lucy studio sets. Then enjoy a candle-light dinner in the Tropicana Room where you can enjoy delicious Caribbean Chicken & Rice or Italian Style Veggie Lasagna.
Next have some laughs with your loved one with stand-up comedian Nick Siracuse. Writing for Jay Leno, The Arsenio Hall Show, and The David Brenner Show, Nick will have your laughing for days. Finish the evening off watching the I Love Lucy episode "The Marriage License" where Lucy and Ricky re-create the day that Ricky proposed.  
Purchase your tickets now online or by calling 716.484.0800. Beer and wine served throughout the evening by cash donation. 

January 21, 2013

60 Year Anniversary of Celebrated I Love Lucy Show

This past Saturday, January 19th marked the 60th anniversary of the episode, "Lucy Goes to the Hospital." This was a groundbreaking moment in TV History that marked the highest Nielsen rating for any one show, with 98.6% of all households watching "I Love Lucy" that Monday evening. This episode featured the birth of Little Ricky, the fictional son of Rick and Lucy Ricardo. Most Lucy fans know that Keith Thibodeaux played Little Ricky throughout most of the I Love Lucy series. But Thibodeaux did not appear until Season 6 in 1956! The Baby that everyone saw on Lucy that night was James John Ganzer. Another little known fact is the full name of Little Ricky was Enrique Alberto Ricardo IV.

Not only was this a groundbreaking show in Nielsen ratings but also that Lucy gave birth in a TV Series during that era. Not only was Lucille Ball the first actress to be pregnant on television, something unheard of back then, as she had her real-life pregnancy written directly into the show.

Lucy actually gave birth to her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr. by a cesarean section just hours before CBS aired this episode. "It’s a very cool moment in television history to recognize because it gives one a sense of the significance of the show in American culture at that time, and because [a 98.6% Nielsen share] will almost certainly never happen again,” said Journey Gunderson, executive director at the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy.

"In today's fragmented world of hundreds of TV channels and dozens of mobile media viewing platforms, even the most popular TV broadcasts are seen by just a small fraction of the viewing audience," said Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator, Jess Oppenheimer. "It's awe-inspiring to think that my dad and his co-writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. were able to write something that was experienced and enjoyed by practically everyone in the country at the same time."

Time truly stood still for this landmark episode. Not only did the episode's ratings completely eclipse those of the first-ever televised presidential inauguration the following day, Colonel McCormick, owner and publisher of the Chicago Times, even scheduled his inauguration-eve party for Dwight Eisenhower around the episode so that the gala would finish at 9pm - just in time to roll out a television and allow the dignitaries to watch the telecast.

In celebration of this anniversary, Gregg Oppenheimer, son of Jess Oppenheimer (co-creator, producer and writer for I Love Lucy) will be releasing his new audiobook, I Love Lucy: The Untold Story. The audiobook can be downloaded on iTunes, Amazon.com and Audible. This book is a fully cast radio play exploring the creation of I Love Lucy and includes funny anecdotes about what it was like to be on the set. Included in this audiobook is a bonus, 15-minute previously unreleased interview with Jess Oppenheimer in 1961. All proceeds on the sale go directly towards the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

January 18, 2013

Carol Burnett Speaks About Lucille Ball

In this interview outtake from PBS's Funny Ladies series, Carol Burnett describes meeting Lucille Ball for the first time and Ball’s generous offer to be of help during Burnett’s budding career. The two would become close friends and perform on each other’s shows. Burnett also shares her favorite anecdote about Lucy.

January 12, 2013

‘I Love Lucy’: Early Footage of Lucy’s Real Kids

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were beloved the world over for their iconic sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” but the 1950s Hollywood power couple tried to shield their young children from the limelight.

“It’s interesting. They said, ‘We wanna make it, we don’t wanna ever put our kids in the show. That would be too horrible,’” Lucie Arnaz, the couple’s first child, said in a recent interview with ABC News. “They did that on purpose. I mean, and I think that’s great.”

For “Lucy” fans, that’s what may make clips like the one above all the more treasured. The 1954 newsreel (shown below) shows Arnaz and Ball introducing their two children, then just toddlers, before launching into a plea urging viewers to contribute to a campaign by the March of Dimes to raise money for the testing of a polio vaccine.

Later on in the newsreel Ball speaks of living in fear that her own children might someday contract polio, adopting a serious tone that marked a stark contrast to that of her clownish TV alter ego. (After the successful development of the polio vaccine, the March of Dimes, which celebrates its 75th anniversary next year, moved on to fund other advances in maternal and infant health. A major focus of the organization today is preventing premature birth.)

There was some overlap between fact and fiction when it came to Ball and Arnaz’s family. The “I Love Lucy” episode when Lucy gives birth to Little Ricky — later played by young drumming prodigy Keith Thibodeaux – aired on the same day that Lucille Ball had a Caesarian section to deliver Desi Arnaz Jr. It was all on purpose, Arnaz Jr. says.

“They shot the show four months earlier. And decided it was going to be a boy on television. But they knew that they could kind of plan when I was gonna be born, because the doctor said, ‘Well, we could do it the same day,’” he said. Though Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. didn’t appear on “I Love Lucy,” their parents often did bring them to the set.

“It was like growing up behind the scenes at Disneyland,” Arnaz Jr. remembered. “You got to see how all the magic was put together — the smoke and mirrors.” Arnaz Jr. even palled around with Thibodeaux, a.k.a. Little Ricky; the two children bonded over their mutual love of playing the drums.

“It was amazing. I became best friends with the kid who played me,” Arnaz Jr. Both Arnaz children grew up to be performers. Lucie Arnaz, 61, is a singer and actress with a long career spanning both the stage and screen. Desi Arnaz Jr., 59, portrayed his father in the 1992 film “The Mambo Kings,” played with his own band and now runs a ballet company with his wife.