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