Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lucille Ball's 100th

this is way better than the issue when Jerry Lewis meets Superman

Today is the 100th birthday of Lucille Ball. She passed in 1989, but she's more than made her mark on pop culture. I do wonder, though, if kids today even understand references to "Oh, Ricky! Waaaaaah!" or a dozen other Lucy-isms.

I make it sound like I had this really depressing childhood of spending summers watching re-runs by myself on KBVO, but it was a fun childhood of spending summers by myself watching re-runs on KBVO. Yes, Beverly Hillbillies was my favorite classic TV show (oh, that Jethro), but by 8th grade I started to actually quite like I Love Lucy.

The more I watched the show as I got older, and quit thinking of it as the show that my grandparents watched when they were in town (they also really, really liked Hunter.  I have no idea why.), the more I came to appreciate the dynamic of Ricky and Lucy, and, of course, I better understood the context of the show at the time.

how Jamie never wound up in a similar situation, I'll never know

Three episodes won me over.

1. Yeah, it seems almost cliche, but the episode where she and Ethel get the jobs in the chocolate factory? Gold. Pure gold.
2. The episode where Lucy goes to make wine.
3. The episode where Superman shows up for Little Ricky's birthday.

I didn't see any of the George Reeves The Adventures of Superman until college, and never got into the series until the DVD releases around 2004, so I wasn't overly familiar with how great George Reeves was as Superman, but if you've never watched the show:  do so.  Now.

But I had seen him years before on I Love Lucy.  In the episode, Lucy promises Little Ricky Superman for his birthday, but Lucy doesn't think he'll show (honestly, its been 15 years since I've seen it, my memory is a bit hazy as to HOW she thought she'd secured Superman).  In order to make sure he's not disappointed, she dresses up as best she can as Superman and gets stuck on the ledge where our friend Superman must come save her.

Its good stuff.

My understanding is that Reeves wasn't thrilled to be playing Superman on a major show like this, but, what the heck... its a reminder of how he embodied that good-natured version of Superman we all carry in our heads.

I am not kidding.  This episode is how I found out how wine is made.

Lucille Ball had a career that went well past the days of I Love Lucy, including two more successful series. She also steered Desilu Productions, the studio you may recall was responsible for the original Star Trek (and a whole lot more).

What I didn't know until the past few years is that Lucy was already 40 when she was playing a young housewife on I Love Lucy. She'd already had a career as a young ingenue that never really took off, but thanks to the power of Google image search, you can stumble across all these pictures of a young Lucille Ball in silk gowns and posed for 30's-era glamour that doesn't match the image of her as everyone's pal which she cultivated on the show as an "average housewife".

Now that you see it, you can't unsee it

At the risk of pointedly telling you that your wacky grandma used to be hot, Lucille Ball was a good looking lady. I know, its weird, right? But when she holds still for a few seconds, she holds her own with any of the rest of her contemporaries from both those early glamour shots and was doing really well in the 1950's, when being in your 40's meant you were supposed to be knitting or darning socks or something, not having your first child.

I will now steer you back to your comfort zone:

Jamie and Nicole puzzle through a problem.

I would guess with I Love Lucy reruns seemingly drifting off the daytime TV radar, it may find a third or fourth life as streaming content. I haven't looked to see.

And, it strikes me, no, we did not name our dog Lucy after Lucille Ball. I think Jamie named her after no Lucy in particular, and I had Lucy Van Pelt in mind when the name came up.

So, happy birthday, Lucille Ball.

I can't not post this. If you've never seen it, its one of my favorite things, like, ever.

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