Wednesday 9 May 2018

A Change For Lucy

Was Lucy being coy?

The impression I get of Lucille Ball is she’d tell you anything straight up whether you wanted to hear it or not. So it seems odd that she’d tell a newspaper syndicate (Jan. 3, 1962) she didn’t want to go into another TV series, then less than eight weeks later, she’d be not only signed to a new show, but it had already been sold (tentatively) to Lever Brothers and General Foods and CBS had announced when it would be on the fall schedule (Variety, Feb. 28, 1962).

Perhaps she didn’t know when she did the interview with the NEA service, but it seems to me events unfolded awfully fast if that were the case. It could simply have been a case of business is business. Big-money talks could have been underway and it wasn’t something to be leaked to the press just yet.

Here’s the NEA feature story. Today, we still think of Lucy and Desi as a couple, so strong was the image on I Love Lucy. It must have been even stronger when this article was written, as reruns were still being seen every morning on CBS, and it was before Lucy had appeared regularly on a show without him.
"Which Husband?" Lucille Ball Asks
Newspaper Enterprise Assn.
NEW YORK—(NEA)—Lucille Ball's blush clashed frightfully with her orange hair and lavender stretch slacks.
But it was hard for her to keep from blushing after her remark, which is known, technically, as a "boo-boo.
The question had been, "Do you plan to do any work with your husband?"
Lucy sailed right into her answer.
"I don't think so," she said. "You see, nowadays he's move interested in producing and directing and isn't acting as much as he—."
Then she stopped and there was a slightly sick look on her beautiful face.
"Did you mean Desi or Gary?" she asked.
"Oh." The blush started. "I was sure you meant Desi."
* * *
The blush spread. It clashed with her coral lipstick, too. But she recovered beautifully. In fact, she burst out into that wild, ringing laugh which her fans know so well.
"You know," she said, "these things have been happening to me. Three days after Gary and I were married, I was in the elevator here in the apartment. And the operator said, 'How is Mrs. Morton today?' I said, 'Well, you know I don't get to meet many people in the building.' And then I realized he meant me. So I said, 'Oh, I'm fine, thank you.' He gave me the oddest look."
* * *
The blush began to recede. The tall redhead seemed to be part of the interior decoration of her apartment. She was the splash of color the room needed; her walls, carpel, furniture arc all in shades of pale green, and against that wan background her color and costume stood out like a well thumb.
She was eating a bowl of prunes—"I'm on a diet, just grapefruit, prunes, meat and coffee; it makes me tired, but I feel great."
And she was full of plans for her future. She ticked off the movies and TV specials she wants to do, starting with “The Good Years” on CBS-TV on Jan. 12.
"I've had so many offers," she said. "I can do almost anything I want to do and that's a nice feeling. Any TV series or spectacular I want to do. But I don't think I'll do a TV series again. It's too much work."
She says she likes to keep busy, because she's the kind who just can't sit around on her pale green furniture and wither.
"I don't have any plans or desire to retire." she says. "I'm going to die when I'm 69—of a cerebral haemorrhage—and I'll be working right up to then."
One thing she doesn't want to do is go outside her own field. She's had several chances to try straight dramatic parts, but she's turned them all down.
* * *
"I have no desire to do a dramatic part," she says. "That would spoil the magic, and I don't want to do that."
By "spoiling the magic," she meant that she has a place in the hearts of the public with her comedy. It's a place she richly deserves and has long wanted to occupy.
"Even as a kid," she says. "I liked to be funny. At the time, I thought it was because I liked to be funny. But now, after reading all these autobiographies of show people, I realize it was because I was insecure and wanted to be liked. So I tried to make people laugh. It's amazing what a great psychologist I was as a kid."
Lucy made it past 69. She died at age 77. She wanted to be liked. And she was more than liked to millions of fans. After all, you know what her show was called.


  1. It's possible Lucy was telling the whole truth here. The Lucy Show was sold by Desi Arnaz as a last-ditch effort to save the Desilu studio, whose other properties (save The Untouchables) had all been canceled. The show was hastily thrown together and never intended to last more than a single season. At the time of the interview, Lucy may genuinely have been unaware that she was about be invited back into Americans' living rooms in prime time for another 12 years.

  2. The bar was pretty much set for Lucy after she became a house hold name in comedy. However, before she became the Lucy we loved, she proved she had the chops to do drama opposite Henry Fonda, Agnes Moorehead and Ray Collins in RKO's " The Big Street " in 1942. Both Lucy Arnaz and Desi Anaz Jr. have called that their favorite film.

  3. The later Lucy shows got worse and worse. It seemed that Lucy was just going through the motions. She aged and coarsened which made the character no longer genuine. She should have segued into something like "The Golden Girls". She would have been gangbusters in the Bea Arthur part.