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I Love Lucy: an American Legend

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Scrapbook page with a photograph of Ball and Arnaz, in the late 1940s. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Collection. Donated by Lucie Arnaz. Rights to the images in the photographs and scrapbook items in this collection are the sole property of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr./Desilu, too, LLC

The following is a guest post by Senior Music Specialist Ray White.

Lucille Ball was born one hundred years ago, on August 6, 1911, in Jamestown, New York.  Her career took her from very inauspicious beginnings—she was dismissed from drama school as a teenager by instructors who declared that she had no future as an actress—to the very pinnacle of the television world in the 1950s.

Ball’s screen credits include more than eighty movies, most of them during the 1930s and 1940s, when she became known as “Queen of the B’s” (the so-called B movies were produced for distribution as the second half of a double feature, usually lower-budget and shorter-duration than the top-billed film), as well as starring roles in four television comedy series spanning more than thirty years.

Her role as Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy was undoubtedly her greatest achievement, and the accomplishment that cemented her lasting fame.  And while the incredible and unprecedented success of the show owed a great debt to the unique dramatic and comedic skill of Lucille Ball, the show was truly the result of the combination of the talent of its cast which also included Ball’s real-life husband, singer/actor/bandleader Desi Arnaz playing her tv-husband, Ricky Ricardo, and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as the Ricardos’ landlords and best friends, Ethel and Fred Mertz.  A large measure of credit for the show’s success also goes to producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer and rest of the writers and technical team.

Scrapbook page including cover story about writing Ball’s pregnancy into the I Love Lucy story line, 1953. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Collection. Donated by Lucie Arnaz. Rights to the images in the photographs and scrapbook items in this collection are the sole property of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr./Desilu, too, LLC

In celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the show’s debut as well as the centenary of Lucille Ball’s birth,  the Library of Congress has developed I Love Lucy: An American Legend. This exhibition explores the show’s history through the Ball and Arnaz family scrapbooks as well as photographs, scripts, printed and manuscript music, and other documents from the Music Division’s Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Collection.  The exhibit will be open Monday through Saturday 8:30am to 5:00pm, until January 28, 2012.

 

 

Comments

  1. According to the NY Times article “The Woman Behind Lucy’s Laughs” 8/7/11, Marilyn Davis was the sole female writer for “I Love Lucy” and very instrumental in guiding Lucy’s antics. According to Tom Gilbert (NYTimes): Davis knew what a woman could and could not do and remain a lady ( a desirable trait to many at the time). Davis and Bob Carroll Jr., her lifelong writing partner (Davis recently passed) wrote a memoir “Laughing With Lucy”.

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