“She never missed sending me flowers on my birthday.” — Carol Burnett

The beauty of writing a blog is having complete control over the rules you set up for yourself. And that psychological satisfaction we silly humans get from breaking rules is that much sweeter when the rules we break are our own. On this, her 100th birthday, I’ll visit the world of classic television for a moment and pay respect to the woman who first introduced me to the black-and-white world of exceptional talent (and live audiences). Like so many of us, I learned the rules of rule-breaking from the master, Lucille Ball.

A VHS tape with I LOVE LUCY written in blue, capital letters provided my first glimpse of the generation into which I should have been born. Yes, it was a generation that believed only beautiful women sold tickets and funny women did not, but fortunately there were actresses like Lucille Ball who paid no attention to such rubbish. By the time I was seven years old, I knew the entire Vitameatavegamin scene word for word, breath for breath. On the occasional warm day in the Bay Area, I still walk around and slur “Oh I feel fine but’cha know, it’s HOT in here!” Mostly it’s met with blank stares, but one day someone will get it and laugh . . .

“Here are I am with all this talent bottled up inside of me, and you’re always sitting on the cork.” Before sliding down in front of the piano, Vivian Vance stands before Desi Arnaz and William Frawley to introduce “Petunia Ricardo.” With fairy wand in hand, four-time Emmy winner Lucille Ball bursts out in her ballerina outfit, determined to break into her husband’s nightclub act. The ballet class scene that follows (with savvy Mary Wickes as a French dance instructor) was unlike anything I’d seen in all my seven years, and immediately I committed it to mental and muscle memory. Suddenly my childhood worship of Oz and its witches had house-dropping competition.

Reacting to Lucille Ball with laughter and applause wasn’t enough for me. The rest of audience, both in the studio and the living room, was clapping and giggling with one another, so I couldn’t just fall in line — imitation was how I showed my love and respect, and few deserve it more than Lucille Ball.

Happy birthday, Lucy!

Add Lucille Ball to your queue.

  1. OLD FILM FAN says:

    Correction – With all of the tributes today, I enjoyed your actual “history” with her and how much you have always “loved Lucy” not just on her birthday!!


  2. OLD FILM FAN says:

    With all of the tributes, I enjoyed your actual “history” her and how much you have always “loved Lucy” – not just on her birthday!!


  3. M. says:

    And I how I Love Lucy too…and about writing a blog, you took the words right out of my mouth! Well done!


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