Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Facts of Life (1960) (watch) full movie with English subtitle

I've just uploaded the movie The Facts of Life on YouTube.I personally Love this movie!   
I also been trying to uploaded the wonderful movie Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) starring Lucy with Henry Fonda. But it's difficult because of the copyrights. However, this is The Facts of Life (14 November 1960), romantic comedy starring Lucy with Bob Hope, the third movie they made together. 
The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Costume Design (for Edith Head and Edward Stevenson). For her performance, Lucy was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress – Comedy. The film features an opening animated title sequence created by Saul Bass.

Plot Summary:
Two romantic couples are each married to different people! They really DO love each other. At the beginning Kitty thinks Larry is un-funny, unendurable, and unrelenting. Larry thinks Kitty is just plain dull. Then three couples cancel their trip. Kitty and Larry are ALONE! At the hotel they go under the silly names of Mr.George Washington and Mrs Martha Washington. Then they fall in love while going fishing. When Kitty caught her first fish she kissed Larry. Kitty and Larry started to spend a lot of time together. Then Kitty writes her husband a letter telling him that she wants Larry, not him. Then Kitty and Larry get into a big fight. They both see that they are making a big mistake. They thought it wasn't right to have an affair at their age (they were middle aged).

Lucy and Desi share a kiss after the divorce at the Facts of Life press conference. How sweet! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

An article you've probably never read before - Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

I'm back on blog :) soon I shall post on Instagram, too. It has been months since i post on insta but i've been really sick, but i'm finally recovered. I really missed it, so i'm glad i can post again!
I bought a wonderful magazine from the 50s with a full article (with interview) about Lucy and Desi, written by famous columnist Hedda Hopper. 
I really loved it, I read things I didn't know before. I'd would love to share this with you, so I typed the entry article from the magazine. I hope you'll like it!

'It happened years ago, when Sam Goldwyn was about to make "Roman Scandals" and had brought twelve models from New York to appear in the picture. I went to the studio to look them over, and was immediately attracted by a platinxmi blonde with baby-blue eyes. " Why did you come out here?" I asked. "Because it was so hot in New York, and I was dead-beat standing on my feet modeling for Hattie Carnegie. So now I'm standing on my feet modeling for Sam Goldwyn." Her name was Lucille Ball; and, of the twelve models, Lucille became a star. She made the grade by sheer intestinal fortitude. Lucille once said, "My life has been one long obstacle race; and I'm still running ." How true! In her teens, Lucille v/as invalided by an auto accident. Rheumatic fever set in; and for three years she used either a wheel chair, crutches, or cane to get around. For most people that would have ended a career dream. But not for Lucy. Through sheer grit she learned to walk again.

Then, defying all conventional attitudes, she struggled through incredible handicaps and became a professional dancer. For that alone I've always loved Lucy. She never got back to New York and her old job. "Roman Scandals," for which she was paid $150 a week, stretched into six months of shooting time. Goldwyn kept the girls on salary for a year and a half, using them in other pictures.

One of that original troupe, now married and retired, told me: "Lucy knew what she wanted when she came here. She also knew she'd have to work hard. She didn't mind that, because work is part of Lucy's nature. I've always been irritated because Hollywood overlooked her talent so long. She doesn't, act. Lucy's a born comedienne. Just being around her keeps you in stitches. "And she hasn't changed one bit since the first day I met her. In route to Hollywood, we were 'nobodies.' So, for publicity, Goldwyn arranged for us to stop in Chicago and diner with some celebrities. We got off the train all right, but ducked the Iunch, and ate in a hot-dog stand. She'd still be at home in a hot-dog joint." Yes, swing high or swing low, Lucy doesn't change.

Over the years, I've watched her fight for career and marriage. I feel certain that, except for Lucy's dogged determinedness, that marriage would have gone bust. During the first two years, it was touch and go. Desi Arnaz is a hot-headed Latin. Lucille has a flaming temper, too. To add further to the marital difficulties, Desi—whom Hollywood couldn't see for sour dough—worked nights in clubs with his band. He was surrounded by beautiful girls. Lucy labored by day at the studio. But often she sat in a smoky, noisy night club until her man got through work. Desi, she decided, wasn't going to be tempted to stray from the straight and narrow. "In those days," Desi tells, "we had plenty of battles. And every time we quarreled, I'd throw my clothes in a suitcase and move into a hotel room. The first thing I'd do was to send my clothes out to be pressed; but by the time they were returned Lucy and I would be made upagain. That was an expensive proposition.What with the hotel and pressing bills! So I decided to build a guest house in our backyard. 

Lucy's mother, who has a great sense of humor, wanted to know why. I said, 'When that daughter of yours and I fight, I'll move out here. I can't afford to move to town every time we get mad.' From the day that guest house was finished, Lucy and I never had a serious fight. "Of course, we still have difficulties. But we make it a rule never to go to bed without speaking to each other. I may say, 'All right, what are you sore about?' That either starts us laughing or quarreling. But, either way, we get what's bothering us off our chests. You know, we get lots of letters from young married couples thanking us for helping them get along, from watching our television show."

From the day Lucy married, she wanted children; but the stork stayed away from her door. She was so infatuated with babies that she'd cut pictures from advertisements and paste them in a scrapbook. Ten years passed before she had her first child; then came her second baby, who created as great a stir as President Eisenhower's In- auguration. I was in Washington for the Inauguration, and on the day of Desiderio's birth, I was having cocktails with publisher Robert McCormick and his wife. The Marshall Fields joined us—and the first thing they said was: "Turn on the television. Lucy's having her baby."

Three weeks later, I called on Lucy at her Northridge home. It's a trim, small farmhouse. The Arnazes, despite the fact that it represents a long drive into town, have lived there twelve years. When Lucy opened the door, she was wearing a flaring smock and, in her bright hair, a cluster of artificial white flowers. "You know, you don't give a hang how you look," I said, chiding her a little about the smock. "No. Thank goodness, I don't have to be glamorous anymore,'" sighed Lucy. "Trying to be beautiful bores me, stymies me, holds me down." That I believe. I recall a hot lunch hour when the two of us were walking along Sunset Boulevard. Lucy, who was doing a picture, was wearing her full make-up. Soon her mascara began to run; and her false eyelashes came loose. That disturbed Lucy not at all. She didn't mind the people staring at her. She just reached up and yanked off the other eyelash.

We ate in a crowded restaurant. I'm sure the other diners thought Lucy had gone plumb daft. They couldn't hear her words, but they could see her facial expressions. She was telling me about her cow. The Duchess of Devonshire, and mimicking the animal, even to cud-chewing, as she talked. That bovine, incidentally, was something strictly out of I Love Lucy. Desi and Lucy acquired The Duchess when she was a day old, and raised her like a pup. She'd follow them around lovingly, which was cute—until the cow weighed 2700 pounds. They tried to keep her in a corral. But one night The Duchess got lonely, escaped the corral, and jumped right through their bedroom window. Desi and Lucy thought it was another earthquake. So The Duchess had to go. She was sent to board at a dairy farm, and ran up a $1500 feed bill, which represented a tidy sum. They figured it would be cheaper to sell the cow and keep her memory green. So sentimental Lucy got a sanding machine and attempted to turn The Duchess's old feeding trough into a flower box.

But she neglected to ask anybody how to operate the contraption. Once she got the machine turned on, she couldn't turn it off. It broke loose and began chopping up the Arnaz estate, with Lucy holding on and yelling like mad until Harriet, her maid, ran to the rescue. For years, Harriet has helped Lucy get out of such jams. She was a business-college graduate whom Lucy discovered on the Help Thy Neighbor radio program. The two traveled all over the country, playing an endless gin rummy game as they trailed Desi and his band or went to keep a show date for Lucy. "And what service she got us!" Lucille recalls. "Why, every railway porter from Hollywood to New York knew Harriet personally." Though Desi plays a hep husband on television, he, too, cein be a sucker for the impractical. When they first moved into their ranch home, Lucy was sitting on a box waiting for Desi to arrive with some chairs and a table. Instead of the furniture, he showed up with a crate of baby chicks. The weather was stormy, so the chicks were given the guest room. Lucy and Desi wrapped themselves in blankets and slept on the floor. All through the night, one or the other would be getting up to check on the health of those chicks.

Put such incidents on TV, and few people would believe you—unless they knew Lucy. Once she was being coached by Jack Donahue for dance numbers in a Metro picture. Jack really put her through the paces the first day. And on the second day Buster Keaton wheeled her to the rehearsal hall in a hospital chair. Lucy had one arm in a sling, blacked-out teeth, tousled hair, and a bruised cheek all done by courtesy of the studio makeup expert. In her one "good" hand she carried a sign: "I am now working for Donahue." She had fun parading her fake injuries all over the lot before she suffered a sudden misgiving that the gag might have embarrassed Donahue. So she went to him and asked, "You don't think anybody took me seriously, do you, Jack?"

Such clowning is part of her nature; but she's also deadly serious. Many still believe that she and Desi reached overnight success with I Love Lucy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The idea for the show was a long time coming. Both Lucy and Desi first had to work a year-and-a-half to clear previous  individual commitments before they could play together. Then they went on the road to test audience reaction by doing a satire on the life of the Arnazes. They had to prove to themselves that people would accept them as a husband- wife team. Many said that people wouldn't. "Remember, Hedda, when I told you of my qualms about the show?" said Lucy. "With Desi being Cuban with an accent - and me being me - I didn't quite believe that audiences would take us as an average married couple. But you just yelled, 'For Pete's sake! You are married, aren't you?'"

Lucy, who has more grit than her sanding machine, was determined to increase her fans before tackling television. And one thing she did still has Tom Rogers, of M-G-M, roaring with laughter. During her yearly layoff period at Metro, Lucy went back to New York and told him to get her on all the radio shows that couldn't afford to pay her any salary. If she didn't collect money for the appearances, the studio could do nothing about it.  "When word got out that I was available for free, Tom got calls from people and radio stations of which he'd never heard," said Lucy. "He'd tell me, 'I know you won't do this show, but I want to let you know about it.' I'd answer, 'Sure. That's exactly the type of show I want to appear on. Then I won't have to spend the next four years saying no when I'm asked to go on them.' Tom was confused. But I knew what I was doing. I wanted to reach all the people I possibly could in a short space of time."

Except for some amateur theatricals she did with Lela Rogers, Lucy had never been on the stage. Desi was on the road with his band, so she figured she'd grab herself another hunk of audience by going East for summer stock. So what would Lucy do but pick one of the most difficult of modem plays, "Dream Girl." When she saw the size of her part and was told she had a week and a half to memorize it, she got the flu, took to bed, and learned her lines with the help of a high fever. "I really do think that temperature helped me get those lines in my cranium," she dead-panned.
Lucy in "Dream Girl"

Smart Lucy. She had a long-range ambition to get the play into the Biltmore Theatre in Los Angeles to show Hollywood producers she could handle a real dramatic part. Naturally, the other players were anxious, too, to appear at the Biltmore, as it would offer them a showcase for movie talent scouts. But, after twelve weeks in the East, and a series of one-night stands on the road, disaster struck the company. "Our producer ran out of money," said Lucy. "Some of the players got sick. I had to pay some salaries and hospital bills from my own pocket. It looked like curtains. But I promised the cast I'd get them into the Biltmore, come hail or high water, if they'd cooperate. I threatened to conk anybody on the head who failed to get the proper rest." But leave it to Lucy. She did get the show into the Biltmore —then collapsed herself. "I was delirious during one whole matinee," she said, "and, by the time I got out of. the hospital, the play had had it. We folded shortly afterwards."

Lucy went back to making pictures—and started having babies, after ten years of marriage. I remember how thrilled she was when she told me of her first pregnancy. But she lost that baby with a premature birth; and a saddened Lucy resigned herself to not having children—which she wanted so desperately. But the Creator was kind. For three years she was almost in a constant state of pregnancy. Her first child prevented her playing the elephant girl in "The Greatest Show on Earth." The part went to Gloria Grahame, who won a newspaper poll for one of the best performances of the year in it. But Lucy didn't mind. To her the greatest show on earth was the sight of her first-born.

Both babies were napping when I first arrived at the Northridge home, just after Desiderio's birth. Lucy rummaged around the room and found a newspaper that had headlined the story of her little son's entry into the world with an eight- column front page streamer. But the story insinuated that Lucy had the baby by Caesarean to please her TV sponsors. That made Lucy see red. The operation was necessary, because Lucy couldn't have babies in the normal fashion. Her first baby had been born by Caesarean, too.

The show's writers had decided to work the stork's expected visit into the show as a routine that happens to most married couples. But it was a delicate matter. Nothing like it had been done on television before; and I Love Lucy has a multitude of very young fans. In order to avoid offending anyone, the Arnazes had a priest, a rabbi, and a Protestant minister check all the scripts for anything that might be in poor taste. The phone rang. Lucy picked up the receiver, said "hello" six times, changing her voice on each occasion. But nothing happened. Lucy shrugged, hung up the receiver, muttering: "Gremlins." "Look at what Desi gave me for pro- ducing a son," she said, "a string of real pearls ... a pendant with a jeweled Tree of Life . . . and a Hammond organ. Want to see me play?" I certainly did. Lucy fumbled around with the organ until I thought she would pull some of the parts loose. Finally getting the instrument ready for operation, she sat down and dashed off "Sweet Georgia Brown" in swingtime, with one hand and two feet. "I've always had a hankering for an organ," she said. I wondered why. With two children around the house, it would seem she'd have enough noise. The babies had been asleep all the while, but Lucy cut in on an intercom system to the nursery and I heard a series of gurgles and grunts. "They're waking up," said Lucy with a grin. "They'll be ready to say 'hello' any minute now." 'Does your little girl show any acting talent?" I asked. "Not this week," she said. "Little Lucie sings and dances. She's—what's the word? All I can think of is 'susceptible.' Aw, the heck with it—she likes music." Lucy disappeared into the nursery, and over the intercom came the sounds of squeals. When she returned I asked about an old-fashioned clock on the mantel and oyster plates on the wall: "We used to have a clock like that when I was a child in Altoona, Pennsylvania." "My clock doesn't keep the right time," said Lucy. "It and the oyster plates belonged to my grandmother. We used to live in Jamestown, New York." Suddenly she stopped, looked at me, and sniffed, "Altoona'." After all, we were just a couple of small -town girls together.

A nurse brought the baby into the room and handed him to Lucy. She fondled him lovingly for a few minutes, then handed the most famous baby in America to me. The little shaver was amazingly strong. And his first reaction to a film columnist was to yawn, frown—and kick me in the stomach. He was a beautiful child, with blue eyes, sparse dark hair, a well-shaped head, and flat ears of which Lucy was particularly proud. Little Lucie peeped into the door to size up the situation before entering, then sidled up to her mother, and indicated displeasure and alarm to find her brother in a stranger's arms. She insisted that Lucy take him back. "It's Mama's baby," she said. "That's amazing," said Lucy. "Up to now, she's always claimed it was her baby." Little Lucie, with black wavy hair, dark brown eyes, and olive skin, is almost a dead-ringer for her father. She looks twice her age— "We keep forgetting that she's just twenty-three months, and expect her to know all the answers." "I'm glad you're going back to Metro to make a picture ("The Long, Long Trailer')," I said. "It's a beautiful script," she replied. "You know, Desi tried to buy the film rights to the book, but he couldn't compete with Metro. So here we end up doing the picture—and get $250,000 for it, too." I wondered out loud if she knew anything about life in a trailer. "Sure," she said. "My family and I lived in one a while one summer." As I left Lucille's happy home, dusk was steering over the orange groves, and in the background loomed a range of misty mountains. The air was sweet with the perfume of thousands of flowers. "Now I can understand why you'll never give up this place for a Bel Air mansion," I said. "Someday we hope to have a helicopter and commute to work," she said. "It's a long drive out here. It was nice of you to come." Then she turned back to what she holds most dear: Her home, her husband, and her babies. A small-town girl who battled every step of the way up, and, having reached the top, remained completely unimpressed with herself. No wonder everybody loves Lucy.'

- Hedda Hopper

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Was Lucille Ball a bitch or though to work with?

It’s been said that Lucille Ball was tough to work with as she got older, especially after her divorce from Desi Arnaz following the incredible run of I Love Lucy, when she found herself alone and basically took control of her next two successful series, The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. But more often than not, you hear Lucy’s peers say that while she could be tough on set, she was inevitably right about what she wanted for her show. Joan Rivers, for example, worked with Ball on Here’s Lucyin 1973, and noted on a recent PBS documentary, Pioneers of Television: Funny Ladies, that at one point Lucy told the director that a camera was off two-and-a-half inches from getting the right shot. The director responded, “No, Lucy, it’s fine,” but Ball insisted it be moved. Rivers added, “Lucy was right.” Ball pal Carol Burnett tells one of my favorite (and apocryphal) Lucy stories: One day on set, Lucy had to chastise the script writers: "She told them in no uncertain terms how they had to fix the script, and that it better be done by tomorrow morning. 'Or you're outta here.' I mean, she was strong. [Burnett laughs.] Then she took a sip of her drink and said to me, 'And kid, that's when they put the "s" on the end of my name.'" Tony Randall, who met her in 1970 said: "A lot of people found her very tough to work with. She bosses everybody around and didn't spare anybody's feelings. But I didn't mind that because she knew what she was doing. If someone just says, "do this!," it's awful if they are wrong. If they're right, it just saves a lot of time. And she was always right." 

Garry Marshall, writing in his 2012 book, My Happy Days in Hollywood. said that he enjoyed writing for Lucy [he co-wrote 11 Lucy Showepisodes from 1964-’66; one of them, "Lucy and the Monsters," is pictured at left], and recalled, “We [he and Jerry Belson, his co-writer] quickly learned the key to writing for Lucy: start with a funny situation and then build the whole script toward it. We wrote the episode in which Lucy ended up at a fancy banquet wearing a ball gown with roller skates. As the story went, her feet were swollen and she couldn’t get the roller skates off. The script called for her to go through a reception line with the roller skates on. During rehearsals she crashed into a row of writers. The sight of this threw Jerry and me into a complete panic. He said, “Do you think we’ve killed Lucy?” But she quickly got up and dusted herself off as we ran over to apologize. “No. No. I’m fine,” she said. “It was my fault. Keep writing this kind of script and I’ll keep going at it.” She was brave and strong, and she could tell what was funny and what would fail. She didn’t care so much about plot; she wanted that big comedy scene that fans would remember, so that’s what we gave her.” Writing about an Odd Couple episode from several years later, “The Odd Monks,” which eliminated most of the dialogue for the show when Felix and Oscar take a vow of silence, Marshall reaffirmed, “The entire script was based on physical and visual humor, which I had learned from the scripts I wrote for Lucille Ball.” 

Wanda Clark, Lucy personal secretary for more that 25 years, says on the question:What was "the real" Lucille Ball like? "She was warm and wonderful and generous, Wanda says, to all of us that worked with her, and her family, of course. And she was loyal - that's why we were all so loyal to her.

I guess the point is, take every story about Lucy being a terror on set with a grain of salt. If she respected your talent, she gave you all the leeway you needed (and if not, all the rope you needed to hang yourself). ("there also jealous people spreading fake lies and stories about Lucy, because she was/ is famous and powerful") She had to be a strong, powerful woman in the face of running her own shows and being president of Desilu, one of the top money-making studios in Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s. It was expected that a man of that era would be strong and do whatever he need to do for success in a similar position. But for a woman…well, it just wasn’t done back then. Women were supposed to know their place. 
But Ball was a pioneer; she had to be strong to protect her assets and her career, and if the people—male or female—that she dealt didn’t like it, well, so be it. The show went on, and, per Ball, it was invariably a success thanks to her business and performing acumen. 

This are must see interview of Carol Burnett about this subject:

In 1967, Lucy Sold Desilu Studios to Paramount for $17 million, netting some $10 million.
It was a job she never claimed to like. In fact, just the opposite: Lucy was never comfortable with all that responsibility and power that came withbeing president of Desilu Studios, which she gained in 1962 after ex-husband Desi Arnaz sold his shares in the studio in 1962 (Desilu was created in 1950). She especially hated firing anyone. And when she took control of Desilu, the company was losing in excess of $650,000 a year. But by July 1967, when this article (pic at left) appeared in TV Guide—headlined “The President Wore a Dress to the Stockholders Meeting” —the “wacky” redhead had turned around the studio’s finances, and it was showing a profit in excess of $830,000. Not bad for those who had pooh-poohed the idea of a woman, especially Lucy, running a major Hollywood studio. 
Still, Lucy fretted over the interest payments on the $3 million she borrowed to buy out Desi’s shares, and worried about her new nickname whispered in the corridors of Tinseltown: LucilleBalls, because she had to make the tough decisions any studio exec had to make. Reporter Dwight Whitney noted the company was “doing a gross annual business of $30 million.” Not to mention Lucy was starring in the fifth season of her second hit sitcom, The Lucy Show. The article’s headline makes a point in itself, how rare it was for a woman to head a Hollywood studio (in fact, Lucy was the first, and only one, at that time, a true pioneer). Lucy was fraught with the responsibility of dealing with her attorney Micky Rudin’s ideology about running a studio: “A company in TV alone cannot survive today’s market. You have to make 20 pilots to get three [aired]. How do you amortize that? Diversify, Lucy, diversify.” 

At the time this article was published, no one had a clue as to what Lucy would do, and financier Charles Bludhorn had followed Ball to Miami, where she was supposedly trying to interest Jackie Gleason in a movie deal, but in reality was probably trying to escape making a decision. The good news: the decision was made, and Ball sold her baby, Desilu, to Paramount for a reputed $17 million , shortly after this article was published, but not before green-lighting two of the most successful shows in TV history: Mission Impossible and Star Trek…thus proving to everyone that it wasn’t wise to underestimate Lucille Ball, whether as actress, comedian, or television executive. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Memories of Lucille Ball - Wanda Clark

Wanda Clark was Lucille Ball's personal secretary for more than 25 years (1963-1989). Did she like the job? Let's put it this way: Wanda said that if the Queen of Comedy were still alive, she'd more than likely still be working for her. "I can't put into words what I miss about her - she was a great force in my life that I appreciated, and miss very much," Wanda noted. Wanda worked with Lucy's cousin Cleo Smith (who Lucy thought of as a sister) at Look magazine. When Lucy needed a secretary, she asked Cleo if she knew anyone, and Cleo recommended Wanda for the job. No interview was necessary; Lucy told Cleo, "If you like her, she's good enough for me." As Wanda reminded me, Lucy liked having her family and people she trusted in her immediate circle.
          Wanda had actually met Lucy once before she went to work for her, at a baby shower the redhead held for Cleo. Her first day on the job happened to include a photo shoot for Look - the photographer and interviewer came to Lucy's house. "I basically sat and listened," Wanda recalls. "I didn't need to do anything, but Lucy thought if I was interested in being there, I should be. So I watched Irma Kusely [Lucy's hair stylist for many years] do her hair. Lucy's home salon consisted of a dryer and shampoo bowl. Lucy could do her own hair color and hair, which she did frequently. But in fact she wore wigs at most appearances, because her own hair was fine and soft, and the hot lights would make it wilt. Putting on a wig is a very specialized thing -- it has to be done right or it won't look good. And hers always looked wonderful. Irma put them on so carefully. Lucy's own hair had to be pin-curled up tight, as close to the scalp as possible, and over that was wrapped some material, and then the wig was attached."
          Wanda's first day at the studio went something like this: "We went to the studio at 780 North Gower - now Paramount; there was just a little fence between Desilu Gower and Paramount. It was a regular office and office duties; it just happened to be for a very wonderful and well-known celebrity" Part of her job was taking phone calls, and preparing the mail for Lucy to look at - "when she had time, she would," Wanda says. Running interference is what any secretary does for the boss, of course. Wanda adds, "I've never had a job I could put a description on, and working for a celebrity like Lucy, the duties are whatever happened to come up: travel, setting up interviews with the publicity department, making doctor's appointments and seeing that she would get to them." And fielding the many, many phone calls: "Some Lucy couldn't possibly take and some she had to - it was a busy job but I had a good time doing it."
          As you might expect, Wanda met many other celebrities during her time with Lucy; as any self-respecting fan already knows, shows during the last few seasons of "The Lucy Show" on into "Here's Lucy" featured an army of guest stars. "Carol Burnett was everyone's favorite," Wanda says, "She was just a joy -and everyone loved it when she would guest star; when Lucy would do her show, I got to go there with her and watch. Ernie Ford, Mel Torme -- all the musical stars were fun. I fell in love with Donny Osmond when he guest-starred on 'Here's Lucy.' He had a crush on Lucie Arnaz at the time, and he was just a darling young man." Bob Hope and Jack Benny were particular favorites of Lucy's, Wanda says, and they were always "so much fun to be around. I enjoyed meeting them all." Lucy "just adored Dean Martin," Wanda adds, "but Dean [guest-starring on "The Lucy Show"] didn't work the way Lucy did -- he tried to get off without any rehearsal and Lucy insisted on a lot of it. Still, they liked and respected each other so much it turned out to be a great show." Wanda's one regret is not collecting all their autographs. "I wish I had. Actually, I have very few pictures of Lucy and me together-just one of those things I didn't think about when it was happening. But I sure wish I did now!"
          Lucy always spoke kindly of those "other stars" she worked with for so many years, you know, her co-stars on that littleshow called "I Love Lucy." "She was so respectful of them all, she appreciated their talents," Wanda says. "She thought Vivian [Vance] was the best script doctor in town; she counted on Vivian to help fix something whenever a script problem came up." She recalls a "heartbroken" Lucy going to visit Vivian just before Vance passed away. "She counted on Desi [Arnaz] for his good advice and ability to recognize good and bad material. She liked [William] Frawley be cause he did his job, did it well, never caused a problem." She adds that if Frawley had a drinking problem, it never impacted his TV job.
          There were many memorable experiences working for Lucille Ball over more than a quarter of a century, but several stick out for Wanda. She actually got to perform on an episode of "Here's Lucy," which she says "was memorable for me because that wasn't my thing - I didn't do well in front of a camera. But it was a wonderful experience." In the second season of "Here's Lucy," episode #38 aired on December 22, 1969, called "Lucy Protects Her Job" [see picture]. Uncle Harry ("Lucy" regular Gale Gordon) thinks Lucy Carter (Ball) needs some help in the office, but she of course fears he is going to replace her. Wanda plays the secretary Lucy interviews in the first scene. She explains how she got the part: "The actress Lucy hired for the part couldn't type, and to Lucy the important part of the character was having someone who could type fast, like a demon. Lucy wouldn't allow her to fake it, she wanted the real rhythm, she thought it was something I could do, because she knew I was a good typist." One thing Lucy hadn't taken into account: Wanda had been typing on an electric for many years, and she "wasn't used to working with the carriage [of an older, non-electric typewriter], and thrusting the carriage return back at the end of a line and all that, so I had to kind of fake it myself, but at least I had the rhythm down."
          Another memorable experience for Wanda happened after Lucy broke her leg, while skiing at her condo in Snowmass (Colorado) up near Aspen in the early 1970s. Lucy asked Wanda to come up and help her close up the apartment so she could come home. Wanda remembers, "Lucy was in a huge, full-leg cast. She was practically helpless in that huge cast, but it was great being there and helping her out. Eventually they shortened the cast, and gave her a walking cast so she could move around, and she ended up doing a dozen 'Here's Lucy' shows with the broken leg written into the show."
          What was "the real" Lucille Ball like? She was warm and wonderful and generous, Wanda says, to all of us that worked with her, and her family, of course. And she was loyal - that's why we were all so loyal to her. While Lucy's writers were an important element of her career, and she always gave them credit for her success, Lucy herself was a funny lady, Wanda says, refuting what Lucy herself often claimed, that she wasn't a particularly funny person. "She didn't go around doing 'I Love Lucy' shtick, but she had a great sense of humor and she loved to have a good laugh." Wanda's favorite moments spent with Lucy included the parties Lucy threw at her Beverly Hills house, "especially when the kids were still at home. They were a lot of fun, planning them, she'd do themes, like a hoedown, with traditional music and costumes. Those were great parties."
          Wanda especially enjoyed the times she got to spend alone with Lucy. Wanda says that every Thursday night after the show taped Lucy and Gary [Morton, her second husband] would head for Palm Springs. "For one reason or another she might want me to come down the next day, to bring her dog to her, or maybe to drive back with Lucy if she was not driving with Gary, and that was always fun. There were a lot of word games; when she couldn't play backgammon, she used to love to play Jotto. It boggled my mind -- and still does -- that she could keep all those letters in her head (while she was driving!), but we played it all the way from Palm Springs to LA.
          I asked Wanda if Lucy ever expressed any regrets about her career or life, and the answer was, not surprisingly, no. "I never heard Lucy say she was sorry she did or didn't do something. She was always sorry she didn't finish school, but she was so well-read, and could spell better than anyone I ever worked for -but as far as her career goes, I can't say she ever discussed any regrets about it with me. I know it hurt her a lot to hear the reviews of 'Life with Lucy' [Lucy's final sitcom, and her only misfire]. She took pride in her work and she worked so hard - she just couldn't find the right material for a character of her age [at the time of the show, Lucy was 75]."
          Wanda last spoke to Lucy the morning she went into the hospital: "We just thought it was another regular day - and Lucy was looking forward to a trip to Jamestown, where she was getting an honorary degree. She had the reservations made, Irma had been alerted - and Fred Williams, her makeup man - they were all set to go. That day she was stricken with a ruptured aorta, and they rushed her to the hospital. They repaired that one and she was on her way to recovery; her children was with her and she knew they were there and was happy they were all right, and then she had a second rupture and was taken instantly." 


 Asking Wanda what she misses most about Lucy is probably not a fair question for someone who became a close friend over more than 25 years. Still, when prompted she gives you the answer you expect: "Just everything about her - it was a very long and happy association." I want to thank Wanda from the bottom of my heart for the generous amount of time she gave me during the interview. She's a great lady.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Important people in Lucille Ball's life: Vivian Vance, Henry Fonda and Bob Hope

Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball shared a special and complex friendship that could never be destroyed. When Vivian first went to Desilu studios to meet Lucille, she was so terrified because she was going to be playing second banana to the legendary movie star, Miss Ball. Of course, she wore formal clothes as she thought that Lucille would dress like that, and she wanted to give Lucille a good impression.

Everyone could remember their first meeting. There was sophisticated looking Viv, and there was Lucille, who dressed in her normal oversized blouse and black slacks. Lucille had worn a scarf that covered her red hair, and her face was bare. Basically, she looked like anything but a great movie star.

Lucille looked at Viv up and down and asked, "what part will you be trying out for?"
"For the landlady, honey," Desi said.
"She doesn't look like a landlady. She looks glamorous. Her hair's the same color as mine," Lucy stated.
"I can dye it. I don't care. It doesn't matter to me."
"I don't know. I want a dumpy, peroxide-blonde with curlers in her hair and a terry cloth robe and fuzzy slippers. That's what I want."

"You got her. I look just like that in the morning when I get out of bed."

The next day, Viv came to the studio with her hair in curlers, wearing an old dress and she was wearing fuzzy slippers. When Lucy saw her, she laughed, she had worn her respect. 
When rehearsals officially started, the two girls discovered that they had so much chemistry. That was the start of their enduring friendship. They enjoyed rehearsing so much that they they had a ball. "Lucy and I were just like sisters. We cried together, we laughed together. She and I had so many laughs on 'I love Lucy' that we could hardly get though filming without cracking up. We used to watch out own shows and rock with laughter at we'd done on camera" - (Vivian)
"I'm not going to try alone now what I've done with my partners in the past. My partners (Desi, Vivian and Bill) are in heaven. No one could take the place of Vivian Vance in my life. She was the greatest partner anyone could ever have."(-Lucy) 

Lucy and Henry Fonda

They ones dated back in the 30s, but no romance brewed and they moved on. They met again when they were doing a movie together, The Big Street in 1942, a funny fact is that Desi felt so insecure about leaving the both of them alone together that he often pop by in the movie sets to keep an eye on his lovely wife and a handsome actor, and his paranoid self made the director so exasperated that he finally banned him from being 10 feet near. Henry hinted that there would have been Fondalu and not Desilu if they got married

So Henry and Lucy were very good friends. Jane Fonda even claimed that her father, was deeply in love with Lucy that the two were "very close" during the filming of 'Yours, Mine and Ours' in 1968, but that Lucy wasn't in love with him
Shirlee Fonda ( Henry's late wife) said: "She (Lucy) was always calling or coming over to see him when he was ill. And after he died, she was one of the ones who always included me in social gathering. When I gave that first party after Henry's death, I said, " Lucy, you have to be there and help me get though this." And she was there for me, for 100%"

Lucy and Bob Hope
Lucy and Bob Hope were more than occasional co-stars, they were close personal friends. "I first got to know Bob during the War," Lucy recalled during rehearsals for the Birthday special.  "He was such a role model for all of us."  Indeed, Bob's devotion over the years to entertaining the military earned him the title, "Mr. USO," and made him one of the world's most beloved entertainers.
Bob said: "Lucy was really my best friend. whenever I needed female advice, she would gladly offer me some. she was great to work with, she had a soft heart, and it helped that she looked beautiful. I love Lucy." 

"Bob recalled,(about the movie 
Fancy Pants)
  "I played an English butler and she a rich frontier girl.  I got stepped on by a real horse and thrown by a mechanical one, which laid m up with a bad back.  Still, I thought making pictures with Lucy could be a pleasant long- term habit.  Then a little thing called television got in the way."
On set photo with Bob Hope from “Lucy Meets Bob Hope” episode (1956). and "Fancy Pants"
On set photo with Bob Hope from "Lucy Meets Bob Hope" episode (1956).
In 1960, Lucy was sent a script for a film entitled "The Facts of Life."   The plot concerned two middle-aged married friends who, bored with their lives, decide to run off together.  Their romantic tryst proves disastrous, however, and both return to their original spouses.  
"Who do you see as the male lead?" Lucy asked.
"Bob Hope," the producer replied.
"Fine.  If you can get him, I'll do it."
Lucy not only  co-starred in the film,  her Desilu company put up part of the financing and provided production facilities.
"As we prepared for a kissing scene," Bob recalled later, "I broke Lucy up by telling her this would be the first time I had ever kissed a studio boss--face to face."

Hope and Ball agreed they had to submerge both their own personalities and their television persona if the serio-comic film was going to succeed.  "I remember how concerned she was lest she slip back into her television character," Bob recalled. "After every take she'd rush over to the director and ask, 'Was I Lucy? Was I Lucy?'" 
As writer William Robert Faith reported, "Almost without exception, the critics found the picture 'a cut above' what either of the two comedians had been doing lately, and it was a box-office winner."

Throughout the following twenty-five years, Lucy and Bob appeared together whenever possible.  Once her weekly series ended in 1974, she made almost annual visits to his specials, and when she did a 90-minute spectacular for NBC of her own  in 1979, Bob was the first star signed.  "It was pure joy working with her," Bob recalled.  "The only problem was getting the audience to quiet down when she appeared on stage.

On March 29, 1989, Lucy and Bob were co-presenters on the 61st Annual Academy Awards.  "We walked out onto the stage," Bob recalled, "and the audience at the Shrine Auditorium rose to its feet.  What an  ovation!  Lucy stood there beside me, beaming in her black and gold gown.  Gently, she squeezed my hand, as if to say, 'Look...we've still got it.'

So Touched

The book "I Loved Lucy, My Friendship with Lucille Ball" by Lee Tannem just arrived today and I've spent the entire day reading it. There's something that I like to share, it's very touching:

"... I [Lee] sifted through the pile of photos and came across a note from a private stationed at Fort Bragg with no picture attached. He said he was sorry for intruding on Lucy's privacy but he was writing on behalf of his mother. She had terminal cancer and she was too weak to leave the house to see Lucy in person in the hotel lobby as so many of her friends had earlier that day. He wrote that his mother worshipped Lucy and for the last thirty years she kept trying, unsuccessfully, to dye her hair the same shape as Lucy's. He gave his mother's address and asked Lucy if when she went back to California she could autograph a color photo of herself and send it on to his mom.

Lucy was visibly moved when I read her the note. "Get her phone number from information, right now," Lucy ordered.

"Aye, aye, sergeant," I said. She didn't laugh. I got the phone number and Lucy dialed.

"God, I hate these damn newfangled Touch-Tone phones," she mumbled.

The private's mother answered and Lucy introduced herself. "This is Lucille Ball... Lucy, and I hope I'm not disturbing you." Evidently, the woman thought that one of her friends was pulling a prank, and it took Lucy a minute or two to convince her that she was the genuine article. Lucy found out that the woman and she were the same age, and that they each had a son and daughter, and that they were both originally from upstate New York. Lucy told her that not only was she going to send her a personalized autograph color shot of herself, but also a year's supply of henna rise. Lucy told her to take care of herself and to get well soon. Then Lucy hung up and went into the other room and cried.

Lucy was very tired so I started going through the mail, and came across this letter, which I handed to Lucy. She closed her eyes and told me to read it aloud to her.

Dear Miss Ball:
My mother told me that talking to you on the phone was the happiest day of her life. Sadly, I must report it was also the last day of her life. She died peacefully in her sleep in the middle of the night. There are no words for my family and I to adequately express our thanks and deep appreciation for your most kind gesture. We are holding a memorial service next week in Oneida, New York, my mother's hometown. If you could send the colored autographed picture of yourself like you promised my mom, we will proudly display it at the ceremony. My best wishes and God bless you.

It was signed with love by the private first class.

Lucy was stunned but she said nothing. She turned her head away, reclined in her seat, and just stared out the window until the plane landed one hour later."

Lucille Ball was such an awesome lady who appreciated her fans. They don't make Hollywood stars like that today.

I hope you enjoyed this short excerpt from the book. 

About I love Lucy backstage...

Marc Daniels, who all of the first season's 35 episodes, says: "We began I Love Lucy using four cameras because they wanted to do the entire first half of the show without stopping," Daniels continued. "We had four Fearless dollies, four dolly grips, four camera assistants, two booms, two dolly grips for the booms, and a few cable men. You can imagine what that floor looked like."
After the first season, Daniels moved on to direct other shows. William Asher, who would later produce 285 episodes, and direct 200 episodes himself of another television classic, Bewitched, came on board.

William Asher's first day on the set though nearly ended his association with the show. They had begun rehearsal and Asher had to walk away for a bit to attend to some technical matters. When he returned, he discovered that Lucille Ball had been giving directions backstage. Asher was astonished.

"I said, 'Lucy, there's only one director. I'm it. If you would like to direct, then don't pay me and send me home,' " Asher said. "When I said that (I didn't say it in a nice way, by the way), she began to cry and ran off the stage. Everybody disappeared. Desi hadn't been in the scene. I didn't know where to go because I had no office. So, I went to the men's bathroom, sat on the toilet and didn't know what the hell to do. I realized I'd blown my first day of what was really a pretty good job.
"I sat there for a long time and finally got up and went back to the stage," he continued. "Desi was there. He was furious. He was cussing me out in Spanish and I didn't know what he was saying. I settled him down and said, 'Look, Desi, here's what happened.' And he said, 'Well, you're absolutely right, Bill. What you should do is go in to Lucy's dressing room. She's crying. Go talk to her and settle this thing.' So that's what I did. I went in. I said I was sorry I upset her. And she was crying and I started to cry. And after a while we went back to work. But I'll tell you this. I never had trouble from her after that. She had her opinion, and would offer it, but nothing ever behind my back. Everything was just fine. That's the way it was for the next five years."
Asher said there was very little ad libbing because the material was strong and they'd had time to rehearse. "On Monday morning we would read the material, discuss it and make changes. In the afternoon, I would start rehearsing and continue rehearsing Tuesday and Wednesday when the cameras came in. On Thursday, we'd rehearse again with cameras about half the day. Then we would do a dress rehearsal. Later that day, we'd do the show."
(I've read, by the way, many times (also said by Lucy), that the weekly show goes before the cameras at  8 o'clock Friday evenings, (After dinner, company and cast return to the stage, and there follows a general "talk through" of the show. At this time, further suggestions are considered and decisions made on any remaining problems, so that by 8 o'clock the company is ready to film the show.) and is photographed entirely the same evening, the preceding four days are employed by the company in rehearsals, pre-production planning and script revision. the camera crews have but two schedules in the five-day period -- on Thursday and Friday. Just saying, lol) 
Rehearsals were vital because they were shooting film. At the time there were no monitors for the director to see the image. The show's quality depended on his ability to watch the floor and ensure that all cameras and actors hit their marks at the required moments. Precision was crucial, as nobody wanted to halt the performance in front of an audience. They rarely shot pick-ups, Asher said, and when they did it was usually for a guest star who forgot a line. Most shows were filmed in around thirty minutes.
"We had stops for Lucy's big costume changes, but that was all," Asher said. "I had a pretty strict rule on that. We didn't stop for anything. We played it like a Broadway show. If an actor made a mistake or forgot a line or something like that, it was up to the other actor to get him out of it."

The editing of I Love Lucy brought another major innovation to television. Desi said that when he first sat down to watch the film, he found it very confusing to look at only one camera's footage on a Moviola. He asked why he couldn't see the film from all three cameras at the same time. He was told that this was the only way — one camera's film at a time. Desi pushed the issue and asked, "Why can't you just stick three Moviolas together?" So the production team contacted Moviola's president, Mark Serrurier, son of Iwan Serrurier who had created Moviola in 1924.