The Flaming Nose remembers the birthday of Lucille Ball, one of the finest comic actors that television has ever known. Born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, NY, Lucy was also a star of film, stage and radio. But it was her TV role as the scheming but intensely lovable wife of Cuban band leader Ricky Ricardo that made her a legend. For six seasons and 193 episodes, Lucy and Ricky and Fred and Ethyl made Americans laugh until they cried. The writing was so well crafted and the physical humor so timeless, you can watch a re-run of this 50+ year old series and it still feels as fresh as a daisy. And that's after you've seen each episode oh...about a billion times.
What exactly is it about Lucy that makes her so endlessly appealing? She was beautiful and a brilliant comedian. She was creative and (along with Ricky) a phenomenal business woman. Beyond all of those accomplishments, I believe it was Lucy's ability to seem, even with all her riches and fame, like the girl next door. Someone who would have a cup of coffee with you at the kitchen table. We've all read that Lucy was not particularly hilarious in real life. It was her devotion to her craft and acting ability that made the Lucy character funny. But she could tell a great tale, something she demonstrated in her later years on talk shows with Dick Cavett and various other hosts.
There are countless biographies and fan sites for Lucy on the web. You could spend all day sifting through them. In Jamestown NY there is even a Lucy and Desi museum. One of my favorite Lucille Ball anecdotes took place in 1953, when Lucy was called to testify in front of the House Un-American committee. In her early 20's, she had voted in a Communist party election at the urging of her grandfather who was a socialist. The testimony came in the midst of her popular television series, and the publicity at that time could have had a negative impact on her image and career. Ricky introduced Lucy before the filming of episode 68 and explained the sticky situation to the audience adding, "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that's not legitimate." When she walked out on the stage, the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
Happy Birthday dear Lucy. You are always in our hearts! Below is a wonderful trailer for the DVD boxed set of the entire I Love Lucy series. I feel like running down to Best Buy and getting it right this moment!