Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Monday, January 26, 2004

Dear Fellow Lucy Fans,

Happy Birthday, Mr. Barnsdahl!

Jimmy Garrett called to remind us that character actor Charles Lane is celebrating his 99th birthday today!

Jimmy, of course, knew and worked with Lane during the first season of The Lucy Show when Lane appeared as Mr. Barnsdahl, the executor of Lucy Carmichael's late husband's estate. Lane also made multiple appearances on I Love Lucy -- as the Ricardos' business manager (photo, left), the officer at the passport office, the casting agent in "Lucy Tells the Truth," etc. -- and played the border guard in "Lucy Goes to Mexico." Lane is also fondly remembered as Homer Bedloe, the hot-tempered railroad executive in CBS's long-running Petticoat Junction.

Born in San Francisco, Lane studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse before "arriving" in Hollywood in 1930. He had a long and distinguished career in motion pictures, working with such notables as Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyke, and Clark Gable, among others...

So happy birthday, Mr. Lane... And many more!

Remembering Dean Miller AND Ann Miller

We were saddened to hear news last week that cancer had claimed the lives of two Hollywood personages -- actor Dean Miller and actress-dancer Ann Miller (no relation).

Dean Miller, an actor best remembered for his role as Matt Henshaw, Spring Byington's harried son-in-law in Desilu's December Bride (1954-59), died January 13, 2004, in Grosse Point, Michigan. He was 75.

Miller was a radio announcer in Cleveland, Ohio, before he began his Hollywood career in romantic comedies and musicals at MGM. His first important role was in "Skirts Ahoy," with Esther Williams in 1952, followed by "The Girl Who Had Everything," starring Elizabeth Taylor and Fernando Lamas.

After December Bride completed its run, Miller became host of Here's Hollywood, a celebrity interview show on NBC. In the 1980s, he was a writer and host for a syndicated radio program called "Dean Miller at the Show Biz Trivia Desk." He also owned a numer of radio stations in his native Ohio.

Tap-dance queen Ann Miller died last Thursday morning (January 22) at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 81. One of the last of the great dancers of Hollywood's "Golden Age," Miller is fondly remembered for her roles in such classic musicals as "Easter Parade," "On the Town," "Kiss Me Kate," etc.

Miller, born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier in Chireno, Texas, started dancing in nighclubs at the ripe old age of 10! When she was 13, she was dancing in a club in San Francisco, where she was spotted by another Lucille -- Lucille Ball -- who was in town to promote one of her own RKO films. She and talent agent Benny Rubin thought she would be a natural in movies, and convinced Ann's mother to take her daughter to the studio for an audition. Everyone wound up fibbing about the girls age, saying she was 18...

Lucy was right: RKO snapped her up, putting her first in "New Faces of 1937," then into a biggie -- "Stage Door," with Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden and Lucy herself.

Lucy and Ann remained friends, and the two were paired again in "Room Service," opposite the Marx Brothers, and in 1940's "Too Many Girls," featuring a young Cuban performer named Desi Arnaz.

Ann continued to make films throughout the 1940s and '50s, and when the studios' desire for musicals ebbed, she shifted her focus to the live stage. In 1969, she took over the starring role in the Broadway musical, "Mame." During the 1980s, she teamed with Mickey Rooney and toured for many seasons in the award-winning "Sugar Babies." In 1998 she won rave reviews for her appearance at the Paper Mill Playhouse revival of Sondheim's "Follies," in which she belted the song, "I'm Still Here!"

Ann's tap shoes are reportedly on display in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC -- but her talents will "live" on film and in our hearts forever.

Lucy in London

A couple of weeks ago we told you about a new web site dedicated to actor Gale Gordon ( )... Today we wanted to mention a new site created by longtime Lucyfan David Hillman devoted to Lucy's 1966 special, "Lucy in London," co-starring Anthony Newley (photo, left).

David, himself born and bred in England, has opened the site with photos from the special -- and photos of many of the English locations as they exist today. He is now actively persuing interviews with many of the English performers who worked with Lucy in the special. You can view his efforts at:

Have a great week everybody!


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