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The Hollywood Museum launched an exhibit celebrating “Lucy at 100 and ‘I Love Lucy’ at 60” Thursday night, and couldn’t have done it without the help of longtime Valley residents and Lucille Ball fans.
The 5-acre Devonshire Street ranch she shared with husband Desi Arnaz in Chatsworth was called Desilu, later the name of their studio. She would have turned 100 on Saturday.
“A lot of the people represented in this museum are stars on the big screen, “ said Tom Watson, who was Lucy’s publicist and authored many books on the famous red-head. “With Lucy, she was in your living room for 60 years—people became familiar with her, she was like family.”
Los Angeles City Council member Paul Koretz, attended and said, “I am a big fan” and he said his favorite episode is “the one where she’s eating the candy on the assembly line.”
Koretz presented Watson and another Valley resident, Rick Carl, (among others) some of the many commendations and thanks for putting the exhibit together with their own personal collections. Commendations and presentations also came from Councilmember Tom LaBonge, and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
“It’s a little overwhelming to see all this displayed together,” said Carl, who illustrated “The Official ‘I Love Lucy’ Paper Dolls” as he looked around the second floor display in the museum where his posters, paintings, magazines and other memorabilia are all displayed. “And, to see all these people who have been a part of her life together, that’s even more overwhelming.”
Valerie Harper (Rhoda), Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue), Carolyn Hennesy (Cougar Town), Loni Anderson (WKRP), Jane Withers (Giant), Rose Marie (Dick Van Dyke Show), Ben Vereen (Roots), Ruta Lee (Funny Face), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Stella Stevens (General Hospital) were a few of the famous attendees at the invitation-only opening.
“My favorite moment with Lucy,” said actor Bruce Davison, who played the older Patrick in the movie Mame starring Ball, “was when we did our first scene together they said it was good in one take, and she said, ‘Oh no, we need to do it again,’ and we did and I said, ‘I love you Auntie Mame’ and she said, ‘Ah, that was it.’ It was a delight working with her.”
Others she worked with at the event included Dann Cahn, lead editor of the I Love Lucy series; Bernard Weitman of Desilu Productions; Arthur Hamilton who wrote songs for the show including an Emmy-nominated song; Wanda Clark, Lucy’s personal secretary; Doris Singleton, actress from Here’s Lucy and many others.
“Lucy taught me how to play backgammon, she loved backgammon,” said comedian Rip Taylor, who is also the honorary mayor of North Hollywood. “She also taught me comic timing. She taught me to wait.”
Lucy Arnaz, daughter of Ball, said, “I love this because it reminds me of when we had Desilu picnics and go out to the big ranch in the Valley with all the families of Desilu every year.”
She said her mother would be happy that a Comedy Hall of Fame is being created at the old train station at their hometown in Jamestown, New York. She also said her mother would be happy that the family is all getting together to celebrate her birthday on August 6.
“This weekend we will be in Morrow Bay with the whole family, and I think she would like that,” said Arnaz. “I’m told that she is more recognizable than Mickey Mouse in most parts of the world . . . . So, Mom and Dad, bravo!”
The Hollywood Museum at 1660 N. Highland Ave. will house the Lucy exhibit through Nov. 30.