Lucille Ball and her infallibility during her twilight years
Since a series of Lucy-worshipping trolls seems determined to hijack the Madeline Kahn thread, I thought I'd give them their own thread here so they can talk about her genius in projects like MAME, STONE PILLOW and LIFE WITH LUCY.
So here's topic A to get them going: ANIMAL HOUSE would have been even greater had they cast Lucy rather than John Belushi as Bluto. Discuss!
"But Dean Wormer! WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
Lucy could have played Miranda Priestly easily.
Lucy was also slated to do Driving Miss Daisy, but death unfortunately couldn't wait.
I see her as a perfect Sophie in SOPHIE'S CHOICE!
SS COMMANDANT AT AUSCHWITZ: [in German} "You must choose... your son or your daughter!"
LUCY AS SOPHIE: [makes her classic "spider" sound while turning to camera] "Ueghhhhhhhhh!!!"
She was total shit and a bore after I Love Lucy.
She did inarguably the best, funniest and most poignant drunk scene in the history of movies in Yours, Mine and Hours. She also looked astonishingly beautiful in the film, so it's mystifying as to why it was decided she needed obvious and distracting camera filters in Mame just a few years later.
Oy those camera filters were too much
Great Lucy movie, BEFORE she was Lucy. ' The Big Street' , with Henry Fonda. Plays a gangsters moll, who gets in a terrible accident. (Dont want to give it away). She's amazingly beautiful in it, and though it's hokey at times, she's very good. You'll cry at the end.
[quote]She did inarguably the best, funniest and most poignant drunk scene in the history of movies in Yours, Mine and Hours. She also looked astonishingly beautiful in the film
Are you on heroin? She looked in her 60s and we were supposed to believe she was still fertile. What a delusional bitch.
RE 5 - Why she needed camera filters ? She was a heavy smoker & drinker, for decades, and was a wrinkled mess. No mystery.
Lucy might have been a damn good Mama Rose. She couldn't sing but neither could Tyne Daly. It wouldn't be much of a stretch for her to be a pushy, controlling, obnoxious mama who drives everyone away from her.
[quote]She also looked astonishingly beautiful in the film
I'm masturbating while I think of her nubile fiftysomething figure under those matronly green polyester dresses, and her attractive care-, cigarette-, and alcohol-lined face framed by that artificial flame-red "atom-bomb mushroom-cloud" wig!
The camera filters bit reminds me of the old joke:
CAMERAMAN: How far should I pull back?
LUCY: How about Cleveland?
"Why she needed camera filters ? She was a heavy smoker & drinker, for decades, and was a wrinkled mess."
She also had facial skin so sensitive and tender that plastic surgery was out of the question. She did have her eyelids done, and it took months to heal. She didn't age well, to say the least.
"Lucille Balls" -- huh,huh,huh.huh ….
She was quite beautiful when young but even during ILL she was starting to show the wear and tear but so was Desi. He was a little jowly too.
One of the great sorrows of Lucy's later years is that she was unable to gain the rights to her follow-up musical feature, "Maimed." Unfortunately, Paul McCartney had purchased them as a breakout vehicle for Heather Mills.
R8, how can you say that she looked like she was in her sixties? She was only 57. And pregnant. Okay, it was a stretch (mark). But she was an actress; she could imagine.
Was she an alki in her later years?
On a serious note why the fuck did she turn do so much high profile work that would have made her a substantial dramatic actress? The list, and it's a real list, of things she turned down is like no other.
Life With Lucy was terrible - and Lucy was way too old to be doing her trademark physical comedy.
What killed it for me was the horrible supporting cast - including two grandchildren and a son and daughter in law who were all awful.
AND that fool Gale Gordon who looked even OLDER than Lucy and was extremely overweight.
The show was an exercise in vanity. If someone could have convinced Lucy to step outside of her "Lucy" character and done a Golden Girls type show, she might have enjoyed a success in late life.
Lucy was beautiful when she was young. SHE never thought so, though, and said that "Next to Maureen O'Hara, I just look like the hatcheck girl at the Trocadero. I look hard." (or something similar to that. Paraphrasing.) It was Sydney Guillaroff, MGM's hairstylist to all the greats, who died her hair Titian red to give her a more glamorous look. This happened when she got a contract at Metro after leaving RKO, where she earned her "queen of the B's" reputation. MGM put her in some "A" Technicolor films and she did okay (Best Foot Forward, Ziegfeld Follies, Dubarry Was a Lady) but never took off as a big enough star to join the "A" crowd. America knew Lucy, though. And the camera loved her. She was nicknamed "Technicolor Tessie." Peaches and cream skin. Flame red hair. Just stunning to photograph. And a natural comedienne. But she was underused. They just couldn't find the right "formula." Lucy said that she and Eve Arden were the "drop gag girls. We would walk through the room, drop a funny line and then walk out." People laughed at them but they never CARRIED a picture, most of the time.
MGM did not renew her contract in the late 40's, I think it was '48, and so she went to radio to do My Favorite Husband, which was the precursor to I Love Lucy.
She was showing her age BY the 50's, due to a lot of smoking and perhaps the stress of approaching middle age and a wandering bandleader husband who never stopped cheating on her. Karl Freund, a genius cameraman, was hired precisely to, among other lighting miracles (the first time multiple cameras were used in a filmed television show) to make Lucy LOOK as good as possible. She was so pretty as Lucy Ricardo in part due to Freund's incredible lighting. If you look closely at some of the later episodes (say, oh, the trip to Europe ones) you will see a haggard, face lined Lucy in very heavy make-up. Her life was anything but joyous during those years, in spite of America "loving" her. Desi was a drunk, gambling, philanderer who used his "It's my Cuban genetics" as his excuse.
By the time the show ended, the couple was not speaking. Literally. Except for when the cameras rolled. Lucy would say "Would you tell Mr. Arnaz...." and he would do the same referencing her. It was horribly sad and awkward according to those on the set during the final shootings. Edie Adams spoke of it extensively since she and Ernie Kovacs, her husband, guest starred on the very last Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour in 1959. The day after filming wrapped, Lucy filed for a divorce.
Lucy then RAN Desilu (the couple's "empire" company that produced lots of great shows like Star Trek) for several years, and continued smoking. All THAT stress added to her aged face. And then she and Vivian starred in The Lucy Show. In black and white. With good lighting. Lucy banked upon America suspending disbelief of her aging face as long as she could still act like a woman-child and the hot lights would wash out the wrinkles. She actually used face tape to pull up her sagging face and then hid the tape under her big red wigs. She looked like a clown but, then again, she was PLAYING a clown. And clowns are always sad underneath.
Her life has always seemed so sad to me. For all the joy she gave to millions, she really never found her own personal happiness, I don't think. Desi was her one great love and he broke her heart. Gary was a prop.
I should have written DYED her hair red! OOPS! LOL
Great post, r 21/22.
What exactly is this "taping of the face" that is often referred to in regard to Lucy?
Thanks, r23. I also wanted to mention, to give credit where due, that it was Desi's genius and business acumen that was the cornerstone for the success of I Love Lucy and Desilu. He had his demons and shortcomings but it was HE who showcased Lucy's brilliant talents to their fullest extent. And he did it out of love for her. But he was messed up. WIth all his success, he always found a way to tear it all down. Lucy, herself, said it on, I believe, a Barbara Walters special. The one where she talks about Desi with such love and regret right with Gary sitting next to her. Humiliating one would think for him but he seemed like such a doormat.
Desi said in his autobiography that "Lucy was boiled hard from her hatred of me." Her "hard" nature was due, in part, to what he put her through. I don't think she ever truly loved again or allowed herself to be vulnerable. She was such a tough nut that NO man, other than Desi, was ever able to really match her onscreen. Perhaps Henry Fonda. Her lined, wrinkled face was from the "inside out," I think. People's happiness and disposition shows on their faces after a certain age. Look at the difference between the aged, croaky, bitter Lucy and the lovely, glowing, soft (and hilariously funny ) 90 year old Betty White! Amazing, isn't it?
R24, taping the loose skin back to give the face a lifted look
Betty White is no shrinking violet. She was married to a wimp almost equal to Gary. But she didn't smoke, drink or run a studio. Nor did she have any children, only animals. All those things can make a significant difference.
Weren't they specifically called "Lucille Ball pull-ups"? Adhesive-backed mesh or small suction cups attached to rubber bands that went over the head and the wig covered it all.
Ex-friend swears that he used to attend AA meetings with Lucy in Beverly Hills. And, her Rolls Royce had the license plate: LuLu
Desi knew what his success rested upon.
Lucy was walking across the sound stage and tripped over a cable.
Desi said: "Watch out for her, boys. If anything happens to Lucy, we're all in the shrimp business."
I thought the same thing about Gary until a few months ago when some personal notes from Lucy to Gary showed up on EBAY. They were all very sincere and NEEDY. They made me rethink that relationship.
Lucy was hard from her childhood. Didn't she start supporting her family like at the age of 14?
"...so they can talk about her genius in projects like MAME..."
Yup, her "performance" was certainly considered "genius".
Sigh. Even she despised the film and her work in it.
Lucille Ball as Angela Channing, getting into a grape-stomping contest with Chase Gioberti and accidentally pulling his toupee off.
There's a clip of her on some old black and white game show (I've got a secret?) circa 1959-1960 when she was appearing on Broadway.
She clearly wasn't taped up, and looks at least 65.
Not sure why she didn't have surgery like most of her contemporaries, but perhaps her docs told her her veins couldn't take it due to all the ciggies and drinking.
I agree w/r21. All that success, yet she was still a very unhappy woman.
[quote]Lucy was hard from her childhood. Didn't she start supporting her family like at the age of 14?
As a hooker.
[quote]On a serious note why the fuck did she turn do so much high profile work that would have made her a substantial dramatic actress?
She was saving it all for her masterwork, STONE PILLOW.
R20, that show was an exercise in insecurity.
It's not widely known today, but Lucy's Mame was not critically well-received upon its release. Because it has become an annual and beloved holiday tv staple in recent years, audiences assume it was a smash from the git go. It's heartening how time sometimes enables us to look at something with a fresh pair of eyes.
What drugs is R27 on? In what world is Lucy/Mame a "beloved holiday tv staple"? Oh, wait,was that supposed to be sarcastic?
Ok, this is all fine and good; however, let's get down to the REAL business. Desi was so damn hot, I jacked off many a time to that fine Cuban specimen.
Is this the better Lucy thread? Or the Tallulah one? Great posts on both!
Mrs. Gordon (Sheila) MacRae
I never saw Life with Lucy but I did watch Here's Lucy when I was very young. All I remember of it was that scary Lucy puppet and lots of "generation gap" jokes that always seem to end with a comparison of then contemporary music to Mairzy Doats.
I continue to believe that life with Lucy could have worked if it had been a continuation of Lucy Ricardo's story.
- The pilot should have been in the CT farmhouse. Little Ricky has returned from Hollywood to his childhood home for the funeral of his Aunt Ethel and comfort his mother.
- He convinces his mother to move in with his wife and two kids in Hollywood - hilarity ensues.
- Gale Gordon plays his wife's father who also is forced to move into the house at the end of the pilot because Lucy's shennanigans burns down his house and all his belongings.
- Subsequent episodes focus on the classic Men vs. women, Parents vs. children, Ricardos vs. wife/father.
I'm surprised Gale Gordon didn't eventually cut to the chase and just play Lucy. All he would need is a red wig.
Gale Gordon was unendurable. Unfunny, smug and mean.
"Gale Gordon was unendurable. Unfunny, smug and mean."
On the contrary. Gale Gordon was a very well-liked, very talented comedic actor. When Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor guest-starred on her show, Burton wrote in his diaries about how unbearable Lucy was. But he had nothing but admiration and respect for Gordon.
"The Lucy Show" did work, at least for the first few seasons. She was, essentially, Lucy Ricardo and Viv was Ethel Mertz, with or without their names. The writers came up with some of the most brilliant physical gags ever. Lucy and Viv put in a shower, put up a TV antennae, Lucy works on stilts, Lucy and Viv get stranded on a sailboat, etc. The writers also realized that Lucy was a pain and started coming up with lines that reflected it. In the sailboat episode, Viv tiredly asks Lucy "Why are you always the captain and I'm always the crew?" The sailboat springs a leak and Viv has the only life preserver. Lucy asks what she's going to do and Viv says "You're the captain, you're supposed to go down with the ship", which got the biggest laugh of the episode. In an episode where Lucy and Viv go to night school, Lucy tells Viv to bring her some chemicals. Lucy: "Don't bring it in an open beaker. What a dumb thing to do. That container has too big a mouth." Viv: "That makes two of you."
The show started going bad when Gale Gordon came aboard. Just could not stand him. If Lucy had shown the same self-awareness she showed in the early episodes of "The Lucy Show" her career might not have ended so sadly.
The Lucy Show started to hit the skids as soon as Desi left Desilu and the show. He was actually the one who knew what was funny and what Lucy could do, and he knew that the "situation," had to grow naturally out of everyday situations. If you notice on ILL everything starts out normal and things escalate to go over the top. Lucy Show after he left things just went straight over the top. When Viv left it was the final straw...Lucy was running the studio and on constantly and you could see her reading cue cards. Not to mention she didnt have anyone to play off of, except the guest star of the week, ("Oh Mr. Thomas, Im your biggest fan!")and Gale Gordon, of which she had an adversarial relationship on screen and no other connection(Heres Lucy at least made them relatives who deep down cared about each other.) The new writers also made her more of Gracie Allen then Lucy Ricardo so the show just stank.
Yup - when Ricky Ricardo was mean to Lucy, or when she had driven him too far - you knew that they loved each other and would eventually work it out in the bedroom.
In The Lucy Show/Here's Lucy/Life With Lucy all we got was Gale Gordon being mean to Lucy, being exasperated with her childishness, and yelling at her.
Why didn't he just give her account to someone else at the bank? Why didn't he fire her and get another secretary - even if she was related to him....
There was no real base or foundation to the show. And the writers got lazy, recycling stunts from other shows. New writers never worried about continuity - it was always whatever reality worked for the episode.
And everyone was so LOUD. Then they went the "guest star" route with a "big" star on every episode which was really pretty boring.
And of course - Lucie Arnaz - the Debra Messing of the 1970's.....
If Lucy had listened to Frank Sinatra and played the role of Mrs. Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate (Angela Lansbury's role) - she could have taken her career in a different direction. It was a couple of years after I Love Lucy and before The Lucy Show typecast her forever - but she couldn't let go of what she was comfortable doing.
Don't know if Desi discouraged her from taking the role, that could be possible - she took career advice from him until the end - but looking at her interviews....she would have been great in the role.
Totally agree with everyone that Lucy could have been a heluva dramatic actress if she had taken those chances, those roles. She was too afraid that her fans would not accept her in anything but the "Lucy" comedic role. Artists have to stretch themselves, to get out of the comfort zone sometimes in order to grow. Lucy suffered from arrested development as an artist, an actress and even a comedienne. She became stale, bored and boring. Hell, even the Lucy character should have "grown up" some over the years. It was offputting to see a middle aged woman acting like a teenage coquette. And the audience was not supposed to NOTICE?
It took her clear until the final years of her long career to do The Stone Pillow. And she started out doing some good dramatic work i.e. The Big Street (1942) with Henry Fonda.
Lucy would have had an Oscar had she done Crimes of Passion.
Yes, ILL had the center of Lucy and Ricky relationship, and their relationships with the Mertz. After Viv left TLS and they got rid of the admittedly boring and sterotyped kids, Lucy had no warm relationships with anybody and Lucy became Gracie Allen dumb, so the show lost any connection to any kind of reality, and had to coast on "Lucy."
I totally agree about the yelling part too. A bio of Lucy had some sitcom director (and John Ritter mentioned this later) talking about working with her on an episode or two of her show and she couldnt get past everyone standing lined up in front of the camera and YELLING. No one moved except when time for a stunt, they stood still and yelled out their punch lines.
Also, Lucy chose the actor to play her son in law on Life with Lucy because in his audition he pushed his glasses up and hit himself in the head with his finger and mugged. Lucy thought it was hilarious which shows why the show bombed.
"In The Lucy Show/Here's Lucy/Life With Lucy all we got was Gale Gordon being mean to Lucy, being exasperated with her childishness, and yelling at her.
Why didn't he just give her account to someone else at the bank? Why didn't he fire her and get another secretary - even if she was related to him...."
Hon, it was a fucking SITCOM. Do you think sitcoms are supposed to make sense?
And she "could have been a helluva dramatic actress if she had taken those chances, those roles?" That's a load of horseshit. ALL she could do was comedy, very broad, slapstick comedy; she was no dramatic actress.
On "The Lucy Show", I got so tired of hearing Gale Gordon scream "MRS CARMICHAEL!!!!!!" at least 3 times each episode! Plus the plots were so thin, and the humor forced. ILL worked because of the ensemble. Lucy by herself got old really fast!
But Lucy sucked a mean cock.... I'm still reeling....
I watched all of her tv shows, but only enjoyed ILL. There wasn't much choice of what to watch in those days. LOL
THe very first project Lucy did post-ILL was Wildcat on Broadway. It flopped and she stated it was because everyone came to see Lucy Ricardo and that was not what she was giving them.
So every project thereafter was an attempt to duplicate the Lucy Ricardo Comfort Zone.
She pretty much believed until she died that the public only wanted to see her as Lucy Ricardo, proven by the lack of success of Wildcat.
Valerie Harper, third chorine from the left
She was also good as a hard-bitten "noir" dame in THE DARK CORNER and LURED.
I thought she was terrible in LURED--and it was a partially comic role.
She just couldn't do drama, even halfway. She was great at comedy, but not drama.
I remember hearing about how dowdy her house was in her later years, the way older people don't fix things up or rehab. She just let things get run down. Nothing funny, charming, or authentic came out of her after 1961.
In truth it wasn't really Lucy's fault that she wasn't able to stretch her dramatic wings, in the late 70's she had three projects in development with CBS, one which was tenatively titled, "Grandma don't sit on the sofa until Mommy puts down a towel" also known as the Lucille Ball Adult incontinence project (per IMDB) was a very sensitive look at the very real problem of elderly bladder leakage. Penned by Dunne and Didion, it was ultimately viewed as too controversial a subject matter for primetime. Lucy appparantly shopped the project around to the major studios, but nobody wanted to be the studio that, to quote Lew Wasserman, "made American's Sweetheart squish around in the world's largest pair of Huggies."
Another Lucy project that never saw the light of day was one that was very near and dear to her heart, tenatively titled, "Not so Rotten Egg" the "ripped from the headlines" docudrama which was to be shot entirely with a hand-held camera in the style of the nouvelle vague, was a provocative look at the very taboo issue of "Change of Life" pregnancy, with Lucy starring as Citizen Jane Doe, a pre-menopausal flight attendant, who finds herself single and pregnant with her first child the result of a misspent weekend in Tijuana. While this film never got off the ground in its original form, the screenplay wound its way through Hollywood for years before finally coming to fruition in a very sanitized form in the now forgotten made for tv film "Baby of the Bride" starring Rue McLanahan and Ted Shackelford. Lucy died before the film ever hit the airwaves and when Gary Morton was askef for comment upon the films premiere he would only say that the film Lucy wanted to make would have been very different and with a lot more integrity.
The third film that Lucy had in developmenet at this time did ultimately get made and will be forever remembered as her love letter to her fans, her timeless turn as Clarabelle in the never to be forgotten, "Stone Pillow" R.I.P America's favorite homeless clown.
I would have preferred it if she did recreate Lucy Ricardo.
All the other shows she is trying to be younger with voice. Oy
Where the hell did that voice come from two years ater ILL?
There have been some funny responses on this thread. R60 was not one of them. All that effort to no effect whatsoever.
[quote]Hon, it was a fucking SITCOM. Do you think sitcoms are supposed to make sense?
Yes. They have to make sense within their own universe. GILLIGAN'S ISLAND is perfect nonsense but it establishes its own crazy logic as well as a consistent framework and adheres to these things. Equally important, Gilligan had seven well realized characters who related to one another in a sincere and believable fashion.
THE LUCY SHOW without Vivian is like a one-panel comic strip about two loud and unpleasant people. He barks, she brays, he yells, she cries - lather, rinse, repeat. The only other character was the cloying, bird-like Mary Jane who existed only to deliver exposition in a nasal whine. If you saw one episode you saw them all.
[quote]Where the hell did that voice come from two years ater ILL?
Actors are peculiar. Lucy could have done anything she wanted when I LOVE LUCY ended. What she wanted more than anything was to be a musical comedy star. Many of Lucy's friends were musical comedy performers - Ginger Rogers, Ann Miller, Ethel Merman, Carol Cook. Even Vivian Vance had sung on Broadway as Merman's understudy and replacement. Lucy dearly wanted to be one of the gang. The same mistaken urge led her to do MAME.
In spite of getting years of comedy out of her utter lack of singing skill, Ball insisted that she could sing and sing well. Bette Davis suffered the same delusion. Lucy took late-in-life crash courses that developed her voice just sufficiently for her to ruin it altogether by shouting the score to WILDCAT on stage for several months. She developed nodes on her vocal cords.
She had always had a habit of pitching her voice upwards to do comedy only now the strain it put on her throat was evident. Subsequent screaming matches on television and the ever-present cigarettes did the rest of the damage.
You can hear a difference between Lucy's "movie" voice of the 1940s and her "Lucy Ricardo" voice - she was deliberately speaking higher. By the end of the "Comedy Hour" episodes, it was getting harder and harder for her to do. By the time of "The Lucy Show," it was impossible.
What's funny is, the smoking is especially what aged Lucy. Viv never smoked. Although Viv was two years older than Lucy (and Ethel Mertz was supposedly at least a decade older than Lucy Ricardo) , when they did The Lucy Show, Viv still looked great - and younger than the aged Lucy did.
[quote]It flopped and she stated it was because everyone came to see Lucy Ricardo and that was not what she was giving them.
Not the fact that it was a musicaland Lucy couldn't carry a tune.
But I do enjoy the OBC of Wildcat, including even most of Lucy's tracks. And it has one of the best overtures in OBC history as well as the yummy warm baritone of hunky Keith Andes.
Hey Look Me Over!
"Also, Lucy chose the actor to play her son in law on Life with Lucy because in his audition he pushed his glasses up and hit himself in the head with his finger and mugged. Lucy thought it was hilarious which shows why the show bombed."
This thread made me go back and watch some Life with Lucy clips on Youtube. I recognized the actor playing her son-in-law, Larry Anderson, from the revival of Truth of Consequences in the mid-eighties. It only lasted on season, but I really liked it and thought he was sharp and funny as the host. However, when I saw him on the LwL, he looked, acted, and sounded like a gay man trying to play it "straight" -- like those old sitcoms where Paul Lynde would play a husband and dad. Don't know what his story is in real life; last time I saw him on TV he was selling magic tricks on an infomercial.
Lucy would have been wonderful in Autumn Sonata. Ingrid Bergman, blech!
They're not serious "dramatic" roles, but Lucy's performances, in "The Fuller Brush Girl" and "Miss Grant Takes Richmond" are hilarious pre-Lucy Ricardo characters, and are a lot of fun.
Viv DID smoke, While the Ricardos always smoked(because of their product deal), The mertzes rarely did but both Viv and Frawley smoked a lot
She'd fart and Gary would kick the dog and she'd yell at him and he'd mutter "Bitch" under his breath and then I'd sit there with my watered down drink while she shook her head at me because she thought I looked fat.
[quote]and then I'd sit there with my watered down drink while she shook her head at me because she thought I looked fat.
But ya WERE fat, Viv! Ya WERE fat in that chair!!
r71, how do you know Viv and Bill smoked? I'd like to see some documentation, please!
Agreed, R70. She is quite funny in MISS GRANT and she and Bill Holden are great together. Their later interaction on ILL is comedy gold.
Vivian commented on the fact that she didn't smoke because she was a singer.
WILDCAT was not a great musical - the score's fun, but the book is awful - but the only reason it "flopped" is because Lucy closed it.
She discovered that the eight shows a week routine was a grind that she simply couldn't - at 49 - adjust to. She had two songs cut (including the title number) in order to reduce her workload (and it was a huge one - for a show that was showcasing a star who had no musical stage experience, they really didn't give Lucy a rest during the whole show) -
and then she had her famous "fainting" experience and cancelled a couple of performances.
By the late spring, she'd had enough, and decided she would close the show for the summer and reopen in the fall (although there was a brief period where they thought they might get a star replacement for three months).
So, that's what she did. But of course, it never re-opened again. Lucy had had enough of New York and Broadway. Once back in her Beverly Hills home, she realized she simply couldn't go back to NY. And by then the idea of "The Lucy Show" was presented to her, and - having decided theatre was not for her - she was happy to do another sitcom.
Thanks, R78. It's true that the not-Lucy-Ricardo aspect of WILDCAT caused some issues, from what I gather, but it was Ball's choice to close, and she paid the B.O. back with her own money ($165,000) to cover losses. It wasn't a financial failure at all - in fact, the advance sales at the time she dropped out "temporarily" were bigger than at the show's opening.
I've read a couple of the bios and they all note how replacements were approached and they all laughed at the thought of trying to step in for Lucille Ball. It was completely her creature - weak book, some fun numbers, dump concept and all.
"Equally important, Gilligan had seven well realized characters who related to one another in a sincere and believable fashion."
You think the Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionare and his Wife, the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann were "fully realized characters?" They were all cartoonish, one-note characters! And they "related to one another in a sincere and believeable fashion?" What kind of lah-lah land do you live in? "Gilligan's Island" is considered to be one of the most absurd tv shows in sitcom history. That was part of its charm, of course. In no way did any character on GI have any resemblance to an actual human being and the plots were beyond ludicrous. "The Lucy Show" was Masterpiece Theater compared to Gilligan's Island.
Was Lucy at all good, or credible, in "Stone Pillow"? Just reading the description, it sounds like it would be almost "Riding the Bus with My Sister"-level camptastic.
I dont know. I think LB did a pretty good job in SP. at least she tried something new at an advanced age
Granted, it wasnt how we liked seeing our Lucy.
Lucy was said to have attempted LWL after SP, because she said her fans were unhappy to see her like that. If they were unhappy at SP, they must have been tragic after LWL.
However, it does reinforce the stories that Lucy believed that her fans would only accept her as Lucy Ricardo.
r78, do you know what the second song cut from Wildcat after its opening was? I assume it's on the album?
I can well remember as a young teen watching Lucy on the Ed Sullivan Show singing Hey, Look Me Over! and thinking she was quite sensational. That spot must have sold 1000s of tickets. Wasn't it once on youtube?
The point, R80, about Gilligan is that there were several instantly identifiable characters each of whom had a unique and believable relationship to each of the others. You have to watch several episodes to see how this plays out. For example, Mrs. Howell is maternal toward Mary Ann but somewhat put off by Ginger. The Skipper on the other hand, being a red-blooded male, is Ginger's chief defender, while the Professor, being an aesthete, is more sympathetic to the winsome charms of Mary Ann. When Mr. Howell attempts to buy someone's support, Ginger is worldly enough to be corrupted were Mary Ann is usually pure enough to resist and resent it.
No matter what foolishness the show presents, it is propped up by the presence of several clear characters with many consistent relationships. Compare that the later Lucy shows which can be boiled down to Mr. Mooney yelling "Mrs. Carmichael!" and Lucy responding, "Whaaaaaah!!"
When I was a kid in the 50s, ILL wasn't the only sit-com that played endlessly in reruns throughout daytime TV. My favorites also included Private Secretary with Ann Sothern, Our Miss Brooks with Eve Arden, I Married Joan with Joan Davis, Love That Bob with Bob Cummings, My Little Margie with Gale Storm and Burns and Allen with....Burns and Allen.
But when I catch any of them today on youtube or DVD collections, the only ones that really hold up are ILL and Burns and Allen.
Saw Martha Raye do WILDCAT at Westbury Music Fair after it closed on B'way. Think Martha's co-star with Keith Andes, Lucy's co-star.
Martha was hilarious and a little dirty too. And, she had the vocal chops to do all of Wildy's numbers; nothing cut. Made a funny speech at the end of the show. Everyone loved Martha.
[quote]Everyone loved Martha.
Everyone except the chorus men and women who had to tour with her, or so I am told by one who did. According to him, Martha was generous and could be incredibly fun but she always insisted on being the center of attention. If people near her began to ignore her she would show off, and if that failed, she would pout. Apparently that gets old when you're on the road and your avenues of escape are somewhat limited.
[R88} Was the touring show "Hello, Sucker!"? Musical about speakeasy queen Texas Guinan. Never came to B'way.
Pity the Museum of Television and Radio has never done a tribute to Maggie.
I wish I could remember, R89. My buddy appeared in a long string of shows including a few Original Broadway Casts. He was in hits and flops galore.
SCTV's brilliant tribute to Lucy's over long TV career: Rusty Van Rettig...
1963: Lucy and Viv do Judo and Karate. In the Dojo. In Judogi. There were more young (and not so young) men watching this who had the most incredible, uncontrollable huge erections of our lives. Yes.
"AND that fool Gale Gordon who looked even OLDER than Lucy and was extremely overweight.'
Oh, shut the fuck up. He was always a very talented comedic actor. And he must not have been that overweight; he could do a cartwheel at the age of eighty!
As for Ball, she kept working long after she should have retired. Her type of comedy was not well-suited to an older woman. She was able to pull it off for a long time, but she was in her seventies when she did "Life With Lucy" and it isn't amusing to see a woman of that age doing pratfalls and behaving like a nitwit. She was a workaholic; after that series failed miserably she went into a decline and was depressed and bored until her death.
The Marx Brothers were of the same type as Lucille Ball. Their zany, wild humor didn't translate well as they got older. They too tried to have a tv series when they were much too old. It was called "The Deputy Seraph" and it flopped as badly as "Life With Lucy."
I love how on Here's Lucy she was still being referred to as a "girl" and a "young lady" when she was a late-middle aged crone with a two pack-a-day voice.
"Everyone loved Martha"
I remember meeting her briefly as a soldier in Vietnam. She was dressed in a general' uniform, and was dead serious about her support of the war... this was long after Pres. Johnson pulled out of the race on March 31, 1968. She still thought we were fighting World War Two.
Lucille Ball seemed only happy when she was working, and during periods of time with Desi Arnaz or Gary Morton. Many men live mostly for their work. Why is it so awful when a woman does the same. But, I do agree it must have been awful for her children.
"Stone Pillow" received good ratings. It finished in the top 10 for the week. In fact, that's when ABC approached Ball with "Life with Lucy."
Lucy didn't have a face lift for the simple reason she just didn't want one. She kicked Ruth Mcdivit, the bitch.
I just think it was a damn shame that both audiences and critics refused to accept Lucille Ball as anything but Lucy Ricardo. It's telling that Mary Tyler Moore first showed her dramatic chops with the breast cancer TV movie, First, You Cry and Carol Burnett was lionized for her performance as a grieving Vietnam mother in Friendly Fire. The critics fell backwards patting these ladies on the back for their versatility, but Lucy was vilified for Stone Pillow simply because she was no longer playing lovable Lucy. That character simply had been seared into public consciousness and there was no escaping it. Lucy knew this to be the truth all along and that's why turned down roles like in The Manchurian Candidate that would have disappointed and confused her worldwide loyal audience.
Perhaps if Lucy had to wait until age forty to become a superstar, she would not have backed off after the "Wildcat" audiences often did not accept her as someone other than Lucy Riccardo.
James Agee said that she was born for the parts Ginger Rogers sweats over. This was back in the early 1940s.
Watch "Roxie Hart" with that quote in mind and you'll see exactly what Agee meant.
At the link, very beautiful and self-assured while doing the hula in "Dance, Girl, Dance." The old lady is Maria Ouspenskaya.
If Aaron Spelling had only been willing to make the character a redhead, Lucy would have been perfection as Alexis Carrington. Just imagine the great Gale Gordon doing his classic slow burn as Blake. And, with Vivian Vance coaxed out of retirement to play Krystle, people would still be talking about their catfight in the lily pond.
'Was she really a judo expert?'
Not really. But on a CBS special broadcast the day Lucy died, Dinah Shore said that Lucy could quickly pick up enough to look like an expert. Shore said that Lucy took on Chuck Horris, and more than held her own in judo.
There was talk of Lucy remaking "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," in both roles. But she talked Gary out of it.
Nothing says MERRY CHRISTMAS like an old MAME thread!!!!
Loved it in Mame when Lucy croaks out "hawwwl out the holleee!" and then dons a weird-looking mask and attempts to lead her motley crew in a little march around the set. Then, she VERY carefully removes the mask, as if she's afraid of snapping one of the rubber bands holding her face together. I especially liked the scene where she's galloping through the dirt at that big plantation, while all the dancers are leaping and twirling around her. And what about that opening scene, where she sings "It's Today," or whatever the hell name of that awful song was. She's carried around the room like a mannequin, her face frozen in a smile, while the music blares and everyone's doing the Charleston. Cripes!