Friday, August 5, 2011
If you've read my posts before, you already know how much I love Lucy, and not just the television show, but everything she did. Since I was a little girl, I've watched Lucille Ball with reverence, admiration, and plenty of envy. Oddly, one of the strongest memories I have as a child is the 1989 news report that Lucy had passed away. I was only eleven then, and I wasn't even watching her extensively yet. However, the impact she already had on me was evident, as I stared at the television screen, watching her "In Memoriam" and crying.
At RKO, she began the best training of her career by none other than Ginger Rogers' mom. She took acting classes, became part of RKO's budding-stars group (which included people like Rogers and Henry Fonda), and began with bit parts in films like "Roberta" and "Follow the Fleet." Finally, after a successful performance in a supporting part alongside Rogers and Katherine Hepburn in "Stage Door," Lucy was given her first starring role in "The Affairs of Annabel." It was only a B-movie, but it began her career as "The Queen of the Bs." She continued this queen role for almost a decade before she her next queen role, "The Queen of Comedy."
Du Barry was a Lady" alongside Gene Kelly and Red Skelton. She made a few more pictures for MGM, but unfortunately, the studio really didn't know how to use her yet. She fought to get out of her contract, and once successful, she moved into the radio medium with "My Favorite Husband," the show that would bring about the Lucy most of us know today.
Without Love" (1945) at 9:30am EST (with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy), "Dance, Girl, Dance" (1940) at 6:15pm EST (with Maureen O'Hara and the film she was shooting when she first met Desi), "Stage Door" (1937) at 8pm EST, and "Easy to Wed" (1946) at 11:30pm EST (Lucy in Technicolor with Esther Williams and Van Johnson). Trust me, you don't want to pass up this celebration. Until next time, everyone. And Happy Birthday, Ms. Ball, wherever you are.
(Post-tidbit: LIFE magazine released some never-before published photos of Lucy today (even though I've had one of them on my wall since high school). You can enjoy the slideshow here. Also, for a video treat - two of my favorite things rolled into one - Lucy and London...)