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Lucille Ball as SOTM October 2021


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I just started watching SOTM Lucille Ball from last week and the people who are co-hosting with Ben are the people who are actually in charge of the podcast right and who actually helped come up with the idea for this season all about her right and that guy is actually Yacov who was actually in charge of Backlot and who you were actually able to email at Backlot right?  Whoa.  It was so great seeing him for the very first time ever.  I’ve emailed every now and then when Backlot was going on and I could catch Lucille Ball in her small part of the first movie.  Where was she and has anyone listened to the very first episode yet?  I’m going to.

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13 hours ago, Peebs said:

I listened to the first episode of The Plot Thickens season 3.  It's about the life and career of Lucille Ball.   It was a vast improvement over last season which was about the making of Bonfire of the Vanities.  Personally, I didn't think there was enough material to warrant a whole season based on Bonfire.  

Ben Mankowitz returns as the narrator and he seems to be a real  Lucy fan.  I read that because of Covid, TCM didn't feel it was an option to do an in-depth interview as they did with Peter Bogdonavich.   Apparently there is enough archival material and interviews that they felt they could do a 10 part podcast on Lucy.  In the taped interviews, you can hear her voice getting progressively deeper and craggier from years of heavy smoking.

I'm not a Lucy fan so I wasn't sure if I'd want to tune in this season.  I enjoyed the first episode which covered her colorful and sometimes tragic childhood.  Mankowitz does a nice job as narrator.  TCM should stick with this formula, using the podcast to do an extensive interview or examination of a person's career.  

I'm a huge Lucy fan.  I was looking forward to this podcast and I listened to the first episode this morning.  I thought it was well done and I like hearing Lucy's story in her own words.  Because I've read so many books about Lucy, including Lucy's autobiography, there wasn't a whole ton of new information learned.  However, what was fascinating was hearing the voices of Lucy's ever-present mother, Dede, who was a major support for Lucy throughout her entire life until Dede passed away in the late 1970s. Lucy was also close to her brother, Fred, and cousin, Cleo, and it was fun hearing their voices telling some of the stories.  I would love to visit Lucy's hometown in Jamestown, NY.  Unfortunately, Jamestown is over 2600 miles away from my house, so I'll definitely have to see the Lucy-Desi museum and Lucy's childhood homes whenever I am able to visit that area of the country. 

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In 2016, Lucille Ball had a Summer Under the Stars day. I partnered up with fellow message board poster CaveGirl to do a write-up about Lucy, which was posted on my blog.

I will share it here...it was done in two parts:

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Part 1

Lucille Ball was born in upstate New York in 1911. Her father was a mining engineer and died when she was four. Her mother was a concert pianist that encouraged young Lucille in her thespian desires from day one. At the tender age of fifteen, Lucille was allowed to go to New York City to attend dramatic classes. But the instructor told Lucille she might want to consider another line of work.

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As a child, she had performed local plays and staged her own one-woman version of “Charley’s Aunt.” She also spent summers selling soap, being a soda jerk and selling hot dogs at an amusement park; all these occupations aided her in later show biz routines. When she arrived in New York City, her ambition propelled her to work as a model for Hattie Carnegie. However, she was soon injured in an auto accident, which temporarily sidelined her. Eventually, she came back with a gig as the billboard model for Chesterfield Cigarettes.

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In 1933 an agent for Sam Goldwyn plucked Lucille off the New York street to audition for an Eddie Cantor film called ROMAN SCANDALS. It would be produced in Hollywood, and the 22 year-old hopeful knew this was the chance of a lifetime. She travelled with friend and fellow hopeful Barbara Pepper to the west coast. In Hollywood, Lucille was personally chosen by Busby Berkeley to appear as a Goldwyn Girl.

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When the Cantor picture ended, Lucille picked up small jobs at Columbia Pictures. She received fifty dollars each week as a stock player and worked with various stars, including the Three Stooges. After those jobs were finished, Lucille became an extra at RKO, starting with ROBERTA. She was signed to a seven-year contract and went on to costar with people like Jack Oakie and the Marx Brothers, reaching a salary peak of $1,500 a week by 1940. She enjoyed lead roles in FIVE CAME BACK and DANCE, GIRL DANCE. And it was around this time that she met someone who would play an important part in the rest of her life– a guy named Desi.

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***

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Part 2

Desi Arnaz was born in 1917 to a wealthy family in Santiago, Cuba. His father was the mayor of the city, but he had his property confiscated during revolutionary times in 1933. As a result, the family fled to Miami and Desi began life in the United States.

Desi had musical talent, and while he was growing up in Florida, he was determined to find work in some of the more well-known bands. His first major opportunity came when he was hired by Xavier Cugat. A short time later, Desi wound up on Broadway in a stage production of George Abbott’s play ‘Too Many Girls.’ 

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RKO bought the rights for a motion picture adaptation, and Desi was among the show’s original performers to be given a contract by the studio. After he arrived in Hollywood, he was introduced to Lucille, who was going to play the female lead in the movie. A quick courtship began, and soon they were wed. Not many gave their union much chance of succeeding.

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Continuing her upward career movement, Lucille was signed by MGM in 1942 and left RKO. In the mid-40s, she appeared in films like MEET THE PEOPLE with Dick Powell; and DU BARRY WAS A LADY with Red Skelton & Gene Kelly. Her hair was colored red for the role as Madame Du Barry, and it became her trademark.

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When her contract with Metro ended, Lucille started freelancing. In between movies, she appeared on the radio series My Favorite Husband with Richard Denning. Meanwhile Desi was out on the road with his band. Hoping to merge their careers, the couple worked with their agent to sell a television pilot to CBS. They performed a live version of the concept, borrowing the format developed in My Favorite Husband.

Essentially, they were playing themselves– he was a bandleader, and she was the wife who wanted to accompany his act. A slight, yet important, change was made before the weekly TV series began. Lucy thought it would play better if the wife was more of a homebody– with no star status and everyday problems.

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In 1950 after refining the basic idea for I Love Lucy, Lucille and Desi formed Desilu Productions so that they could retain full control of their TV show. They also decided to film it on the west coast, not in New York as the network wished. Using the writers from My Favorite Husband– Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr.– the show was a hit and began its long and successful run.

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Though she would become more famous for her television work, Lucille Ball is still remembered for her work in numerous films. These include classics like ROBERTA; TOP HAT; I DREAM TOO MUCH; FOLLOW THE FLEET; STAGE DOOR; ROOM SERVICE; THE BIG STREET; MISS GRANT TAKES RICHMOND; THE DARK CORNER; LURED; and FANCY PANTS.

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Thanks TopBilled.  Her movies are also on from time to time right?  I mean even when she won’t be SOTM.  I know The Long Long Trailer and Critic’s Choice.  Which she did with Bob Hope have been on.  I haven’t really had time to catch up this month.  I’ve been listening to season 3 of The Plot Thickens though and it’s great.  I love it.

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31 minutes ago, David Guercio said:


Thanks TopBilled.  Her movies are also on from time to time right?  I mean even when she won’t be SOTM.  I know The Long Long Trailer and Critic’s Choice.  Which she did with Bob Hope have been on.  I haven’t really had time to catch up this month.  I’ve been listening to season 3 of The Plot Thickens though and it’s great.  I love it.

Lucy was under contract with RKO and then MGM and,  along with Warner Bros,  TCM features films from these 3 studios way more so than any other (since they were part of the original Ted Turner library of films).     TCM shows her RKO and MGM films from time to time.  

 

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Yes, David...James is correct, a lot of Lucy's movies are rerun on TCM year round.

***

By the way I had to wait until the end of the month to post all the movies they aired because there were still some gaps in the schedule in early October. And the article that TCM published did not include a listing of everything that would be broadcast.

So LURED did not air (but will air in November). THE DARK CORNER did not air. LOVER COME BACK did not air. SORROWFUL JONES did not air. FANCY PANTS did not air. A WOMAN OF DISTINCTION did not air. THE MAGIC CARPET did not air. A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN did not air. And STONE PILLOW did not air.

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On 10/2/2021 at 9:09 AM, TopBilled said:

 

I finished listening to the most recent season of TCM"s podcast, The Plot Thickens.  Season 3 was all about Lucy.  I was wondering  if anyone knew why Desi, Jr. wasn't interviewed.   Ben, who seems to be a big Lucy fan, interviewed Lucie Arnaz.  She was featured quite a bit in the last two episodes which covered the end of her mom's life.  Did Desi, Jr. have a falling out with the family?  Maybe he's not well or just sick of talking about his famous folks?  Just wondering if you would have a guess.  It seemed odd that they mentioned him but didn't interview him.

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26 minutes ago, Peebs said:

I finished listening to the most recent season of TCM"s podcast, The Plot Thickens.  Season 3 was all about Lucy.  I was wondering  if anyone knew why Desi, Jr. wasn't interviewed.   Ben, who seems to be a big Lucy fan, interviewed Lucie Arnaz.  She was featured quite a bit in the last two episodes which covered the end of her mom's life.  Did Desi, Jr. have a falling out with the family?  Maybe he's not well or just s sick of talking about his famous folks?  Just wondering if you would have a guess.  It seemed odd that they mentioned him but didn't interview him.

Desi Jr did have several fallings out  with his  mother, but to be fair, so did Lucie (and everyone  else!). Desi Jr fathered a child at 14, I think...he also had a relationship with Patty Duke that Lucy publicly complained about...and at one point, Lucy threw all his belongings on the front lawn of their Beverly Hills home and he went off to live with his father. 

Later Desi Jr was back in his mother's good graces, especially when he had married Linda Purl, whom Lucy liked...but that marriage didn't survive and Desi Jr had a long-term drug abuse problem. So that made things difficult for him and his mother again.

As for Lucie, I think her difficulties were more about her mother being rather controlling and feeling her mother didn't trust her to make important decisions on her own.

But both Lucie and Desi Jr loved their mother and they did participate on the DVD extras when Here's Lucy was released to home video. And I think they both turned up at a TVLand awards show that paid tribute to their famous parents. Also both have been involved over the years with the museum in Jamestown New York that houses memorabilia about Lucille Ball's career. However, I do think that Lucie has done more than Desi Jr in terms of preserving their family's legacy.

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19 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Desi Jr did have several fallings out  with his  mother, but to be fair, so did Lucie (and everyone  else!). Desi Jr fathered a child at 14, I think...he also had a relationship with Patty Duke that Lucy publicly complained about...and at one point, Lucy threw all his belongings on the front lawn of their Beverly Hills home and he went off to live with his father. 

Later Desi Jr was back in his mother's good graces, especially when he had married Linda Purl, whom Lucy liked...but that marriage didn't survive and Desi Jr had a long-term drug abuse problem. So that made things difficult for him and his mother again.

As for Lucie, I think her difficulties were more about her mother being rather controlling and feeling her mother didn't trust her to make important decisions on her own.

But both Lucie and Desi Jr loved their mother and they did participate on the DVD extras when Here's Lucy was released to home video. And I think they both turned up at a TVLand awards show that paid tribute to their famous parents. Also both have been involved over the years with the museum in Jamestown New York that houses memorabilia about Lucille Ball's career. However, I do think that Lucie has done more than Desi Jr in terms of preserving their family's legacy.

Thanks for the info, TB!  The podcast did touch on Desi, Jr.'s substance abuse and that he dropped out of Here's Lucy, the show he did with his mom and sister.   They did not mention being a father at 14. (Yikes.)  Lucie did seem very vested in keeping her parents legacy alive.  She was especially protective about her father's image and felt that he never got enough credit. 

Her mom did not want a funeral but Lucie arranged to have 3 memorial services across the country on the same day.  She also moved her mom from Forrest Lawn to Jamestown, NY.  It sounded like Jamestown made more of a shrine to their local celebrity where as at Forrest Lawn she was just one of many celebrities.  At least that is what I gathered from Lucie's interview on the podcast.  

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13 hours ago, Peebs said:

Thanks for the info, TB!  The podcast did touch on Desi, Jr.'s substance abuse and that he dropped out of Here's Lucy, the show he did with his mom and sister.  Lucie did seeme very vested in keeping her parents legacy alive.  She was especially protective about her father's image and felt that he never got enough credit. 

Her mom did not want a funeral but Lucie arranged to have 3 memorial services across the country on the same day.  She also moved her mom from Forrest Lawn to Jamestown, NY.  It sounded like Jamestown made more of a shrine to their local celebrity where as at Forrest Lawn she was just one of many celebrities.  At least that is what I gathered from Lucie's interview on the podcast.  

Though Lucy was born in Jamestown, I think she spent more of her childhood in a nearby town called Celoron, NY. But Jamestown seems very proud of her, which is as it should be.

When Desi Jr  left Here's Lucy at the end  of the third season, Lucie was busy getting married to her first husband whose name escapes me at the moment, but he appeared in small roles on the sitcom over the next few seasons. 

The excuse for Desi Jr.'s departure from the show was that he was focusing on his movie career, which I think was partially true, but it was also a move to get him away from Lucy and ease the tensions between them surrounding the Patty Duke stuff. 

Desi Jr.'s movie career did take off in 1972 and it made sense for him to focus on films instead of television in the mid-70s. But he did return for a fifth season episode (it was the episode that featured Joe Namath as a guest). 

A very good book that gives insights into Lucy's relationships with her kids is "I Loved Lucy" by Lee Tannen. Tannen was a cousin of Lucy's second husband Gary Morton, and he became very close to her. Lucie Arnaz wrote the foreward/introduction for the book.

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2 hours ago, Peebs said:

Lee Tannen was interviewed for the podcast.  He talked about playing backgammon with Lucy.

I haven't listened to any of the podcasts.  Glad Lee Tannen is featured/included. In his book, he mentions the group of Lucy's friends who played backgammon with them. One person was Mary Wickes and I think Carole Cooke sometimes joined them. Usually they played backgammon in Lucy's guesthouse. 

Tannen's book is chock full of great trivia, like what Lucy's favorite foods were...her favorite TV shows and favorite fellow comedians, etc. For example, he says she loved to make lemonade and eat Jell-O (a product that had sponsored her radio sitcom My Favorite Husband for a few seasons).

It's been years since I've read the book, but a lot of it has stuck with me. He really takes you inside her personal world during those later years  of her life.

Nothing against podcasts, but I think sometimes it is better to read the book(s) and make your own inferences about the lives that were led. 

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Nothing against podcasts, but I think sometimes it is better to read the book(s) and make your own inferences about the lives that were led. 

I absolutely agree with you, I'd take a good book over a podcast any day.  Podcasts are great to have on while doing something like cooking dinner.  The Plot Thickens was certainly a one sided fan letter to Lucy.  They claimed that when Lucy died the news broke into local programming all over America to announce her death.   I'm a little sceptical about that.  Big news yes but not breaking into regualr programming news.   I learned more about Lucy but she still doesn't do anything for me.   I'm  just not interested enough to read more about her and Desi.

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2 minutes ago, Peebs said:

I absolutely agree with you, I'd take a good book over a podcast any day.  Podcasts are great to have on while doing something like cooking dinner.  The Plot Thickens was certainly a one sided fan letter to Lucy.  They claimed that when Lucy died the news broke into local programming all over America to announce her death.   I'm a little sceptical about that.  Big news yes but not breaking into regualr programming news.   I learned more about Lucy but she still doesn't do anything for me.   I'm  just not interested enough to read more about her and Desi.

The feeling I get, from your comments, is that the podcast basically was a way for Lucie and Lee Tannen to repeat stories they've told before. And it's almost like taking the text, or some of the text, from his book and just putting it into conversation form...so people don't have to read the book. It's a different way of sharing stories, going from the written page back to oral histories. 

Re: Lucy's death, I think it was the lead story on the evening news that day...but yes, I don't think there were interruptions in regular programming.

She died alone in her hospital room at Cedars Sinai. By alone, I mean none of her family was there when she died. 

After Lucy & Desi's divorce, the family sort of split into two...Desi was remarried to a woman who was very similar to Lucy, and Lucy married Gary Morton, who was very different from Desi. But Lucy wanted to make Gary into a producer, just like she had made Desi into a producer. So in some respects Gary did become a bit like Desi, in terms of supporting Lucy's career. A key difference, however, was that Gary brought in some of his relatives. His cousin Sid Gould appeared in many episodes of Lucy's sitcoms as a bit player and Sid's wife Vanda Barra also became part of the stock company. 

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10 hours ago, TopBilled said:

The feeling I get, from your comments, is that the podcast basically was a way for Lucie and Lee Tannen to repeat stories they've told before. And it's almost like taking the text, or some of the text, from his book and just putting it into conversation form...so people don't have to read the book. It's a different way of sharing stories, going from the written page back to oral histories. 

Re: Lucy's death, I think it was the lead story on the evening news that day...but yes, I don't think there were interruptions in regular programming.

She died alone in her hospital room at Cedars Sinai. By alone, I mean none of her family was there when she died. 

After Lucy & Desi's divorce, the family sort of split into two...Desi was remarried to a woman who was very similar to Lucy, and Lucy married Gary Morton, who was very different from Desi. But Lucy wanted to make Gary into a producer, just like she had made Desi into a producer. So in some respects Gary did become a bit like Desi, in terms of supporting Lucy's career. A key difference, however, was that Gary brought in some of his relatives. His cousin Sid Gould appeared in many episodes of Lucy's sitcoms as a bit player and Sid's wife Vanda Barra also became part of the stock company. 

Yes, I'm sure your are right, that Lucie and Lee Tannen have trotted out these stories before.  Looking up Tannen, I see his book "I Loved Lucy" and he also wrote a play about his relationship with her.  He's getting a lot of mileage out of knowing Lucy.

I Loved Lucy' brings '50s TV star to life in Laguna – Orange County Register

 

Oh gosh, how sad that Lucy died alone.  Strange that no family would be at the hospital.   I believe it was Lee Tannen who talked about the last years of Lucy's life, how she took up backgammon, wore mostly comfy jogging suits, but maintained her polished nails and her smoking habit.  She missed working and had very little to keep her interest.  Lucie talked about her dad's death and how her mom came to visit him at the end.  Lucie says she put on reruns of "I Love Lucy" and her parents watched them together.  That detail was almost too much for me, like Lucie was really trying to sell the audience on her parents' love story.  

After Lucy bought Desi out of Desilu, we didn't hear much about him on the podcast.  He got remarried and finally got into rehab.  His imdb page drops off after the late 1960's.  I know he wrote his autobiography and would pop-up as a guest on late night shows.

Gary Morton, according to the podcast, was the one who urged Lucy to star in the last sitcom.  It may have been Tannen that said  Morton did it for the money and was less concerned about the quality of the show.  I was relieved that Morton didn't turn out to be someone who squandered her money, like Debbie Reynolds' last husband.  Morton it seemed lacked the good instincts that Desi had in the early years.  Lucy knew that "Life with Lucy" wasn't good and the series was canceled after something like 13 episodes.  Her feelings were hurt, as if the public no longer cared about her.  It's too bad someone didn't think of a Golden Girls-type of show for her rather than try to re-create the old magic.  Sad ending.

 

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1 hour ago, Peebs said:

Yes, I'm sure your are right, that Lucie and Lee Tannen have trotted out these stories before.  Looking up Tannen, I see his book "I Loved Lucy" and he also wrote a play about his relationship with her.  He's getting a lot of mileage out of knowing Lucy.

I Loved Lucy' brings '50s TV star to life in Laguna – Orange County Register

 

Oh gosh, how sad that Lucy died alone.  Strange that no family would be at the hospital.   I believe it was Lee Tannen who talked about the last years of Lucy's life, how she took up backgammon, wore mostly comfy jogging suits, but maintained her polished nails and her smoking habit.  She missed working and had very little to keep her interest.  Lucie talked about her dad's death and how her mom came to visit him at the end.  Lucie says she put on reruns of "I Love Lucy" and her parents watched them together.  That detail was almost too much for me, like Lucie was really trying to sell the audience on her parents' love story.  

After Lucy bought Desi out of Desilu, we didn't hear much about him on the podcast.  He got remarried and finally got into rehab.  His imdb page drops off after the late 1960's.  I know he wrote his autobiography and would pop-up as a guest on late night shows.

Gary Morton, according to the podcast, was the one who urged Lucy to star in the last sitcom.  It may have been Tannen that said  Morton did it for the money and was less concerned about the quality of the show.  I was relieved that Morton didn't turn out to be someone who squandered her money, like Debbie Reynolds' last hsuband.  Morton it seemed lacked the good instincts that Desi had in the early years.  Lucy knew that "Life with Lucy" wasn't good and the series was canceled after something like 13 episodes.  Her feelings were hurt, as if the public no longer cared about her.  It's too bad someone didn't think of a Golden Girls-type of show for her rather than try to re-create the old magic.  Sad ending.

 

If I recall correctly, Tannen devotes a whole chapter to Life with Lucy and describes going to one of the tapings...what it took for Lucy at her advanced age to prepare and then unwind. A weekly series grind later in life, where she basically carried the whole show, was probably too much for her. But she was a trouper. 

Recently someone put all 13 episodes of Life with Lucy on YouTube. I watched a few of them, and to be honest, I quite enjoyed the episodes I saw. My favorite sitcom of hers is Here's Lucy because it's more grounded in reality with her interacting with her children. And while Life with Lucy does not feature Lucie or Desi Jr., the storyline has Lucy playing a grandmother which I think is good. It is also grounded in reality since she was a grandmother by then, and it all seems plausible even if the usual comic hijinks occur. The writing's actually not bad. A Golden Girls type show would not have worked for her. Lucy was best as the center of attention, not as part of an ensemble.

I don't think we can begrudge Lucie for fixating on her parents' love story. Most children of divorce cling to the fantasy of their parents reuniting, or imagining how things would have been had there been no divorce. So to me, that is kind of normal behavior. More importantly, she believed in what her parents created together and was wanting to celebrate that with them during her father's final days.

In his book Tannen also talks about how Desi's death profoundly affected Lucy and that it coincided with the cancellation of Life with Lucy. He says there was a 'play or pay' type clause in the contract for that series. Although ABC cancelled the sitcom after 13 episodes, the contract was for a full season of 22 episodes meaning the network still had to pay her for nine unproduced episodes which Tannen says came to around a million dollars. It was financially lucrative for them, despite her taking a beating from the critics.

It's not really fair to paint Gary Morton as a money hungry type. Lucy had helped him develop into a producer, and Lucy was his star property. If Aaron Spelling was anxious to put her in a new show and it looked as if it would be a hit, and Lucy was willing to go through the paces, then it was Morton's job to make sure they got it off the ground and on the air. There have never been any stories of Morton fighting Lucie or Desi Jr. over money from Lucy's estate.

I believe Morton remarried after Lucy's death and lived his final years with his new wife in Palm Springs. He was a low-key sort of guy, and he was for all intents and purposes a good stepfather to Lucy's children. Plus he was Tannen's cousin, so it seems a bit disingenuous of Tannen to criticize him in any way.

I didn't know Tannen had written a play about Lucy. I guess, to some extent, Lucy has been a muse for him.

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54 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

If I recall correctly, Tannen devotes a whole chapter to Life with Lucy and describes going to one of the tapings...what it took for Lucy at her advanced age to prepare and then unwind. A weekly series grind later in life, where she basically carried the whole show, was probably too much for her. But she was a trouper. 

Recently someone put all 13 episodes of Life with Lucy on YouTube. I watched a few of them, and to be honest, I quite enjoyed the episodes I saw. My favorite sitcom of hers is Here's Lucy because it's more grounded in reality with her interacting with her children. And while Life with Lucy does not feature Lucie or Desi Jr., the storyline has Lucy playing a grandmother which I think is good. It is also grounded in reality since she was a grandmother by then, and it all seems plausible even if the usual comic hijinks occur. The writing's actually not bad. A Golden Girls type show would not have worked for her. Lucy was best as the center of attention, not as part of an ensemble.

I don't think we can begrudge Lucie for fixating on her parents' love story. Most children of divorce cling to the fantasy of their parents reuniting, or imagining how things would have been had there been no divorce. So to me, that is kind of normal behavior. More importantly, she believed in what her parents created together and was wanting to celebrate that with them during her father's final days.

In his book Tannen also talks about how Desi's death profoundly affected Lucy and that it coincided with the cancellation of Life with Lucy. He says there was a 'play or pay' type clause in the contract for that series. Although ABC cancelled the sitcom after 13 episodes, the contract was for a full season of 22 episodes meaning the network still had to pay her for nine unproduced episodes which Tannen says came to around a million dollars. It was financially lucrative for them, despite her taking a beating from the critics.

It's not really fair to paint Gary Morton as a money hungry type. Lucy had helped him develop into a producer, and Lucy was his star property. If Aaron Spelling was anxious to put her in a new show and it looked as if it would be a hit, and Lucy was willing to go through the paces, then it was Morton's job to make sure they got it off the ground and on the air. There have never been any stories of Morton fighting Lucie or Desi Jr. over money from Lucy's estate.

I believe Morton remarried after Lucy's death and lived his final years with his new wife in Palm Springs. He was a low-key sort of guy, and he was for all intents and purposes a good stepfather to Lucy's children. Plus, he was Tannen's cousin, so it seems a bit disingenuous of Tannen to criticize him in any way.

I didn't know Tannen had written a play about Lucy. I guess, to some extent, Lucy has been a muse for him.

Morton came off better than I expected, and they seemed to have a happy supportive marriage.  But the main complaint, for lack of a better word, was that he just wasn't Desi.   That would be hard to live up to.  Lucie did not have any complaints about him as a stepfather.  The podcast also mentioned that Lucy wouldn't have done that last show if she didn't want to.  

I remember when Life with Lucy came out and got generally panned.  Interesting that you've watched it recently and liked it.  That might be a fun idea for some retro TV channel to have a marathon of all of Lucy's shows not just I Love Lucy.  I wonder how many of her fans have revisited that last show and liked it, too.   I see your point about Lucy not being an ensemble player, like a Golden Girls cast, but I wonder could Lucy have fit in another type of show?  At that time there were shows like Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Diagnoses Murder with older familiar actors that did well.  Maybe Lucy is just too Lucy to have done something different.  They also mentioned Stone Pillow where she played a homeless woman.  

The Kennedy Center Honors came at the end of the cancelation and Desi's death.  The podcast included a clip of Lucy talking how important it was after such a hard stretch.   Then Robert Stack read a letter from Desi at the Kennedy Center Honors...  Wow, what an emotional moment that must have been for her.  

Do you have any interest in the new movie, Being the Ricardos?

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28 minutes ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

I wonder if a reason for any riff between mother and children with Ball was due to the lack of talent her children had, compared to say,  Judy Garland and Liza. 

Did Ball have expectations that her kids could not come close to and this caused tension? 

It didn't play that way. Liza was like an adoptive step-sister to Lucie and Desi Jr. This is because Lucy and Liza formed a bond when Minnelli was directing THE LONG LONG TRAILER. Also, Lucy and Judy were very close pals from their MGM days and Lucy was at the star-studded premiere of A STAR IS BORN around that time. 

In Lee Tannen's book, he describes going with Lucy to see a Broadway show where they bumped into Liza, and Liza ran up and hugged Lucy calling her Mama. After Judy's death, Lucy was like a surrogate mother to Liza, and that was helped by the fact that Liza and Desi Jr. were romantically involved for a while in the 70s. So they were all one big happy extended family.

In addition to performing in the trio Dino, Desi & Billy, Desi Jr. made films for awhile. His motion career peaked from 1972 to 1978, before he segued into TV movies. He also headlined his own TV show in the 80s, Automan.

Lucie's success was more on stage and touring in musical shows. In Tannen's book, he talks about how proud Lucy was re: Lucie and that she believed Lucie had inherited her father's music performance genes. Lucy had the writers of Here's Lucy devise some episodes that were a showcase for Lucie. In one classic episode, Lucie sings with a young Donny Osmond and in another one, she sings with John Davidson. There is also a very good episode in the final season in which Lucie does a Sonny & Cher routine with Robert Goulet. Lucy enjoyed sitting back and letting her daughter perform and show off her own unique talents.

In fact it could be argued that the basic concept of Here's Lucy was to serve as platform that would continue Lucy's television career and at the same time serve as a launching pad for her kids' careers. She believed in their ability to entertain audiences. But she was also a stern taskmaster and made them work hard. She wasn't just their mother, she was their boss.

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1 hour ago, Peebs said:

Morton came off better than I expected, and they seemed to have a happy supportive marriage.  But the main complaint, for lack of a better word, was that he just wasn't Desi.   That would be hard to live up to.  Lucie did not have any complaints about him as a stepfather.  The podcast also mentioned that Lucy wouldn't have done that last show if she didn't want to.  

I remember when Life with Lucy came out and got generally panned.  Interesting that you've watched it recently and liked it.  That might be a fun idea for some retro TV channel to have a marathon of all of Lucy's shows not just I Love Lucy.  I wonder how many of her fans have revisited that last show and liked it, too.   I see your point about Lucy not being an ensemble player, like a Golden Girls cast, but I wonder could Lucy have fit in another type of show?  At that time there were shows like Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Diagnoses Murder with older familiar actors that did well.  Maybe Lucy is just too Lucy to have done something different.  They also mentioned Stone Pillow where she played a homeless woman.  

The Kennedy Center Honors came at the end of the cancelation and Desi's death.  The podcast included a clip of Lucy talking how important it was after such a hard stretch.   Then Robert Stack read a letter from Desi at the Kennedy Center Honors...  Wow, what an emotional moment that must have been for her.  

Do you have any interest in the new movie, Being the Ricardos?

I don't think Gary Morton needed to be like Desi. In fact one of the main understandings when Lucy married him was that if he acted like Desi (affairs and gambling) she'd get rid of him. She was not about to go through all of that again. She wanted a low-key guy that could make her laugh. Gary Morton's true passion was golf. He was much more athletic than Desi.

Gary Morton also liked foreign sports cars which bonded him with Mike Connors, who shared a love of foreign sports cars. It was because of their friendship over cars that Mike was cast in Mannix a Desilu series that became a long-running TV hit, because Gary introduced him to Lucy who approved his casting.

Re: Life with Lucy I think the real reason it failed is because in 1986 there was a new generation of TV critics that had grown up watching reruns of I Love Lucy and they couldn't stop comparing the new show to the old show. And these critics turned viewers against it right out of the gate. The series was actually a continuation of the fictionalizing of Lucille Ball's life. At this point, she had evolved into a grandmother, which for the sake of weekly comedy, was depicted in the form of a kooky interfering trouble-making grandmother. But there is plenty of reality in the scenes, because underneath the slapstick is a much more sardonic woman who seems wiser than she was in the previous sitcoms.

The best episode of Life with Lucy is the one in which Audrey Meadows guest-starred. They play frenemies and in many respects it is very reminiscent of the comedically volatile Lucy-Viv relationship. Gale Gordon is also on hand as Lucy's long-time nemesis, a holdover from her earlier series. This formula worked for Lucy, and as I watched some of these episodes on YouTube recently, I found them very enjoyable.

Something like Murder She Wrote would not have worked for Lucy. But I think if they had developed STONE PILLOW into a weekly series, that might have worked. Lucy could have done some drama and light comedy and brought that character full circle. A lot of the character's backstory is unexplored in the TV movie, and there were a lot of directions they could have taken her in, week after week. She could have had this very colorful background that nobody would realize seeing her as a derelict on the streets. She could have witnessed crimes and murders in alley ways. That might have been interesting instead of another sitcom.

But sitcoms were her bread and butter and that's what people really expected of her.

As for the Kennedy Center Honors, I agree that must have been a very emotional night for her. Robert Stack was a close friend of the Arnaz family, ever since Desi had cast him in The Untouchables. Desi had a good working relationship with people like Robert Stack, Vivian Vance, Bill Frawley, Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard. In fact Kaye Ballard bought Desi's home in Palm Springs, and Desi moved to Del Mar where he spent his last years running a horse-breeding farm, boating and fishing.

I do agree with Lucie's assessment that her father was a pioneer in television production and he deserves a lot of credit for developing the format for multi-camera sitcoms. 

I don't have an interest in the new movie, but if it brings new fans to appreciating what the Arnaz family accomplished, then I am all for that.

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