The Big 100: Why We Still Love Lucy

From Ralph Hipp

Lucille Ball fans all over the world will be marking the centennial of her birthday Saturday.  In this post 9/11 world, we need a reminder that on August 6, 1911, a little girl who would become the queen of comedy and show us how television sitcoms would be done.. was born in Jamestown, New York.

Many Lucy fans know her life story.  Leaving an abusive, alcoholic father and her doting mother, Lucy went on an average film career and an even better radio comedy career, starring in "My Favorite Husband" with Richard Denning.  As the sitcom moved to television to become the classic "I Love Lucy," Miss Ball demanded that CBS put her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz into the show.

The stories were mostly about the endless career drive of Lucy, begging Ricky to put somewhere in his shows at the Tropicana Club.  (Gosh, I wonder who she was trying to play in the picture we're showing here!!)  The familiar plotlines created a television classic.. even the three-camera filming with a live studio audience that would set the gold standard for comedies we've loved all these years.  With William Frawley and Vivian Vance at their sides for five years, you could hardly tell in real life that Frawley couldn't stand Vance.  He once quipped, "Vivian's one of the best known TV stars to come out of Kansas, and I wish to hell she'd go back there!"  (Viv was from Cherryvale, near Independence and Coffeyville.)

But Desi Arnaz was a womanizer, who loved Lucy and then lost her.  She was quickly thrust into the role of a pioneering woman television producer.  With Vivian and longtime friend and co-star Gale Gordon.. she wouldn't star in one of her shows without them.. Lucy had always locked in Monday nights on CBS, her name was still Lucy, and she starred in "Here's Lucy," "The Lucy Show," and even her last sitcom "Life with Lucy" whcih tanked on ABC in the late 1980s.  Lucy died of heart problems in April of 1989, at the age of 77.

We've still loved Lucy all this time, and the new network MeTV (not MyTV btw..) is showing 100 episodes of great Lucy stuff.. 50 hours.. all this birthday weekend starting Friday night at 11:00.

So what's your funniest Lucy moment?  Mine are Vita-Meat-a-Vegamin.. god, that still cracks me up!  Speed it up!  With Lucy and Viv on the candy assembly line.. and I do remember the two of them swimming around INSIDE a shower.  The door stuck and the water kept them floating up toward the ceiling as Lucy tried to save money on a plumber by fixing the shower herself.

Remind me of some more!  There are thousands of moments.. and Lucy, we thank you for them!

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