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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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On 8/19/2021 at 10:06 PM, TopBilled said:

Screen Shot 2021-08-19 at 7.02.54 PM

Lucille Ball in a photo from THE BIG STREET (1942) which was her favorite film role.

Yes this was also one of my favorite Lucille Ball films but her character was pretty nasty. 

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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:


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.


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.


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.


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.




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.’ 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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