In Ball's home town of Jamestown, New York there will be a 'Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy.' America's Hallmark Channel is celebrating the centenary with a 48-hour marathon of I Love Lucy, focusing on the show's trips to Europe and Hollywood. TCM has decided to run a Ball marathon anchored by one of her 1930s films Stage Door. The Hollywood Museum has an extensive exhibit of 'Lucy-ana' that runs August 4-November 30, with Miss Ball's daughter Lucie Arnaz, I Love Lucy editor Dann Cahn and other notables on hand for the opening night. There's lots, lots more happening!
TV Guide said of Lucy in 1974, ‘Her face has been seen by more people, more times than the face of any other human being who ever lived.’ She has also been named by TV Guide as the 'Greatest TV Star of All Time.' I also recall Miss Ball’s first husband and I Love Lucy co-star and executive producer Desi Arnaz accepting a Photoplay ‘Gold Medal’ Award in 1977 for I love Lucy as the ‘Favourite All-time TV Series.’
There were many other awards, honours, accolades and citations ... including 'Queen of Comedy', 'Comedienne of the Century', 'First Lady of Comedy', and, of course, 'First Lady of Television.' Certainly no woman has ever been as successful in the entertainment world, and possibly the business world as well, as Lucille Ball.
I have, these past few days and weeks, read many online celebratory tributes to Miss Ball leading up to this day, the centenary of her birth. One of the 'best' I've read is this one from Marlo Thomas. She knew Miss Ball well, as did her parents and especially her father Danny Thomas, who delivered the eulogy at the Memorial Mass held for Desi Arnaz on December 4, 1986.
Let’s look at a clip (courtesy CBS and, as presented here, TCM) from the I Love Lucy episode 'Lucy Does a TV Commercial', which first aired in the United States of America on CBS-TV on May 5, 1952. You must be familiar with that episode ... it's the one where Lucy is hired to act as the 'Vitameatavegamin girl' in a TV commercial. The product - 'Vitameatavegamin' - contains, among other things, pure alcohol ... all 23 per cent of it. You can guess what happens. Watch ...
In October 2005 US fans voted this particular episode as their favourite during an I Love Lucy anniversary television special. TV Guide and Nick at Nite ranked it the 2nd greatest TV episode of all time after the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode 'Chuckles Bites the Dust'.
Watch Lucy’s face ... indeed, her whole body ... and listen to that voice. Yes, notice how cleverly Miss Ball varies her vocal elements (especially pitch, volume and speed) throughout the skit. Notice her mode of delivery, her gesticulation, eye contact with the camera, and how skilfully she makes use of pauses. I could go on, but I am now analysing her comedic art. Stop! It’s enough to say that everything Miss Ball says and does as Lucy Ricardo is said and done ... mindfully!
Even reading some of her lines, reproduced below (but, forgive me, not exactly as presented on film), is a study in the practical application of mindfulness:
Miss Ball played her every role for real ... and more often than not with believability. Yes, in her later years there were a couple of flops, but for millions of people of my generation and many others – before and after mine – she will always be the irrepressible and ever-so-lovable Lucy.
Lucille Ball had flair and a superb sense of timing. She believed that life was worth living, and she overcame enormous obstacles to achieve both personal and professional success. She also gave of herself tirelessly to others. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like had I not become a Lucy addict. I know it would not have been as good ... or as happy. Yes, I love Lucy ... I love Lucy ... and millions do, too!
Happy Birthday, Miss Ball, wherever you are ... which is everywhere!
NOTE. For those who are interested, I have compiled a book entitled Who's Who in I Love Lucy. The book can be read online on SlideShare.
Google TV Homepage Lucille Ball 100th Birthday
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LUCILLE BALL ON MINDFULNESS