I want to Talk about celebrating two milestones in the life of America’s Queen of Comedy: Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday and the 60th anniversary of I Love Lucy. The gala reception was appropriately at The Hollywood Museum, in the historic and most fabulous Max Factor Building. A gaggle of stars became instant tourists cruising the premiere collection of movie wonders, and the special exhibit of Lucy-arama. The museum, along with CBS DVD and Paramount Home Entertainment, deserve gratitude and applause. And this is open to the public until November 30. Do not pass Go! This is a real destination; prepare to spend a good part of your day —there’s so much rich detail and memories of Hollywood glory, then and now.
Universally adored for her madcap television antics, I always think of Lucy the person, who was generous, caring and devoted to her family and friends — a great mother to her children and a fine daughter to her mom. It was great fortune to have worked with Lucy and experience firsthand her professionalism and serious knowledge of what everyone in the show was doing every moment. In the early ‘60s, she created Lucille Ball’s Desilu Workshop, in which she worked with and nurtured young performers such as Robert Osborne, actress-singers Carole Cook and Marilynn Lovell and Ken Berry. Ken and I were young marrieds then, and Lucy brought us into her circle of friends and sent silver toothbrushes from Tiffany’s when both my children arrived. At that time, little Lucie was young and not so little. We were guests at her wedding in big Lucy’s back yard. “She’s the funny one,” said the idolized comic Lucille, who was not “on” at home, but was a gracious hostess and emptied ashtrays. Wonderful days. Lucy and Lucie worked together at Actors and Others for Animals’ first event, taking Polaroids with fans. Inundated. Lucky fans!
Now, lucky fans can go to The Hollywood Museum and melt into Lucy memorabilia. An entire floor dedicated to everything Lucy.
“The Hollywood Museum is the perfect venue for this exhibit because it’s where Lucille Ball went for makeup and hair treatments from Mr. Factor,” says museum President Donelle Dadigan. “It’s where Lucy first became a redhead. She had the longest-running contract of all of Mr. Factor’s celebrity clients, and he frequently used her image in his PR and ad promotions. The Redheads Only Room has been carefully preserved in her memory today. So, when you go, inhale the air in the heavenly pink lobby. Sense the stars that have been beautified in these glorious rooms. See how Jean Harlow became a blond, and see her car, on the third floor. Dazzling. (It’s open from Wednesday through Sunday, 10 to 5.)
The top floor is for parties. What a place to have your celebration and have free run of the museum, plus the creepy basement full of horrors (including Hannibal Lecter).
For the Lucy party, which was packed with stars and fans, very tasty food was served and a fantastic panel of speakers brought Lucy memories to life.
This was the largest Lucy reunion in the past decade, with original creative talent from Lucy and Desi’s world, including:
Lucie Arnaz (who said this was like a Desilu picnic) is the gorgeous and talented daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz; Dann Cahn, the living legend of the original Lucy Creative Team and best known as the head editor of I Love Lucy; Bernard Weitzman, Executive VP of Desilu Productions; Arthur Hamilton, wrote the music for the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour; Doris Singleton, actress and co-star on Here’s Lucy; Shirley Mitchell, actress from I Love Lucy; Wanda Clark, Lucy’s secretary for 28 years; Bob Schiller, original writer on I Love Lucy and Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour; Tom Watson, Lucy’s long time publicist and creator of All About Lucy the Webzine for Lucy Fans & Collectors. These are great members of the Hollywood community and the Lucy team, and thanks to them all, they quietly enriched the legend. I respectfully end with some quotes:
“The truth is they [Desi and Lucy] wanted to stay together so that they could have a family… Everyone did it for all the right reasons: not to be famous, not to make money, not to be better than another show… No one worried whether people were more talented than the next or who had more lines. They just got in the sandbox and played — and I think that’s the reason why this show has survived so long.” – Lucie Arnaz.
“I Love Lucy was never just a title.” – Desi Arnaz
“I’m not funny — what I am is brave” – Lucille Ball.