Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dear Fellow Lucyfans:

Just a couple of quick reminders...

Lucy Alums Celebrate Old Time Radio

Gregg Oppenheimer is pulling together a group of "I Love Lucy" alumni to perform in two "live" on stage radio comedy productions as part of this year's SPERDVAC Old Time Radio Convention, being held at the Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA, the weekend of May 2nd and 3rd.

The two radio re-creations are part of the evening dinner entertainments. Friday's show will be a re-creation of "The Great Guildersleeve," and Saturday's is "The Jack Benny Program." Here are some of the details:

Friday evening's re-creation will be "The Great Gildersleeve," starring "man of a thousand commercials" Chuck McCann (the "hi guy" guy in the medicine cabinet for Right Guard and the voice of the "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" bird) as Gildersleeve. Also starring will be the amazing Shirley Mitchell, reprising her co-starring role in the original broadcast, as Gildy's lady love, "Leila Ransom." "I Love Lucy" fans remember Shirley as "Marion Strong," Lucy Ricardo's girlfriend with the distinctive laugh. (LUCY: "Quit cackling, Marion. I've been waiting ten years for you to lay that egg.") The production will feature three additional original Great Gildersleeve cast members: famed actor-turned-sportscaster Gil Stratton (the narrator, "Cookie," in Stalag 17, and "Mousie" in The Wild Ones), Janet Waldo (the voice of "Judy Jetson" and "Josie" of Josie and the Pussycats, star of radio's Meet Corliss Archer, and the lovesick teenager, "Peggy," on "I Love Lucy"), and veteran radio and TV actor Stuffy Singer (The Jack Benny Program, Our Miss Brooks, The Bill Cosby Show). Rounding out our stellar cast will be Gloria McMillan ("Harriet Conklin" on "Our Miss Brooks"), Charlene Tilton ("Lucy Ewing" on Dallas), Eddie Carroll (the voice of Disney's "Jiminy Cricket"), and Dena Dietrich ("Mother Nature" in Parkay's famous "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" commercial). The evening will be emceed by Jimmy Weldon ("Webster Webfoot", "Yakky Doodle Duck").

Saturday evening will include an installment of "The Jack Benny Program," starring the incomparable Eddie Carroll. Eddie's uncanny portrayal of Jack Benny has won him rave reviews for his award-winning one man show, Jack Benny: Laughter in Bloom, currently on tour around the country. Cast will also feature Chuck McCann as Don Wilson, and original Jack Benny Program cast members Beverly Washburn (Old Yeller, The Greatest Show on Earth) and Stuffy Singer, as Mary Livingstone and Dennis Day. Plus John Stephenson (the voice of Fred Flintstone's boss, "Mr. Slate", and the original announcer on I Love Lucy) as Mr. Kitzel, and veteran TV announcer John Harlan. The evening will be emceed by the wonderful Gary Owens (deejay, voice artist, and announcer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In).

Following the Jack Benny re-creation, radio personality Frank Bresee will direct an episode of The Lone Ranger, featuring that program's famed original announcer, Fred Foy ("From out of the west come the thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides again!"), as well as original Lone Ranger cast members Dick Beals (the voice of "Speedy Alka-Seltzer"), and deejay and voice-artist Casey Kasem (creator and longtime host of American Top 40, and the voice of "Shaggy" on Scooby-Doo).

Tickets for each evening are $50 per person until April 15, when the price goes up to $55, including a full sit-down dinner before the shows. For complete information, visit the SPERDVAC web site at:

Wilmer Valderrama Headlines Jamestown Festival in May

The Lucy-Desi Center in Jamestown, New York, has unveiled its plans for this year's "Lucy-Desi Days Festival," to be held over Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25. Headlining the weekend is TV star Wilmer Valderrama.

Among the other special guests are Lucy's sister-in-law Zo Ball; actress Melody Thomas Scott; I Love Lucy's Steve Kay and film editor Dann Cahn; Lucy's longtime secretary Wanda Clark; impressionists Diane Vincente and Rhonda Medina; and Desilu attorney Howard Rayfiel. Following is the Center's press release:

TV’s “Fez” Plans Tribute to Desi Arnaz

Jamestown, NY – Wilmer Valderrama, star of That ‘70s Show and Fast Food Nation and creator and host of MTV’s Yo Momma, is heading to Jamestown, New York, on Saturday, May 24, to celebrate Desi Arnaz’s contributions to the world of entertainment.

Wilmer will take the stage to share how Desi personally inspired his career and to salute the man that paved the way for other Hispanic actors in America. With a collection of rarely seen film clips of Desi’s career -- and some added surprises -- this will be a night not to miss! Wilmer fans will also be encouraged to take part in a special question and answer session that will feature highlights of Wilmer’s career to date. A gala reception with limited admission will follow.

With more than 40 events in the line-up for Lucy-Desi Days, Jamestown, New York will be the place to be on Memorial Day Weekend, May 23-25, 2008!

On Friday morning, host Linda Pellegrino will kick off the weekend festivities with a broadcast of WKBW’s AM Buffalo from the Desilu Playhouse, Jamestown’s “I Love Lucy” museum. Ms. Pellegrino will interview Lucy-Desi VIPs live on the Ricardos’ New York City living room set. Weekend Guest Passes admit festival goers to the Desilu Playhouse and the Lucy-Desi Museum for this event and throughout the weekend.

Friday afternoon, Zo Ball, Lucille Ball’s sister-in-law, and her children will welcome guests on board the Summer Wind for a cruise on Lake Chautauqua. Passengers will feel like a part of Lucy’s extended family!

Melody Thomas Scott, “Nikki” of The Young & The Restless, will share stories during Sunday brunch in the beautiful recreation of Ricky Ricardo’s Tropicana nightclub. That evening Melody will host the Lucy-Desi Fans Talent Show & Costume Contest, with prizes courtesy of The Franklin Mint. She’ll join other festival VIPs on stage afterward for a Grand Finale Wrap Party, with live music, wine and a wonderful dessert buffet!

Universal Studios’ “Lucy” (Diane Vincent) and her sidekick “Ethel” (Rhonda Medina) will host special “I Love Lucy” reenactment dinners each evening in the Tropicana Room.

Howard Rayfiel, Resident Counsel to Desilu Productions and Vice President of Lucille Ball Productions, will be joined by Wanda Clark, Lucy’s long-time personal secretary, in presenting a special slide show featuring never-before-seen photos of Lucille Ball along with storytelling, video highlights, and a question and answer session.

Tribute will be paid to We Love Lucy Fan Club President Tom Watson at the Fan Reunion and Picnic in Celoron. Steven Kay, the actor who played Little Ricky’s best pal, Stevie Appleby, in the classic episode that featured Superman, will make a special “I Love Lucy” Legend appearance.

Three events will celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the beginning of the television anthology series Desilu Playhouse, sponsored by Westinghouse: “I Love Lucy” film editor Dann Cahn will introduce rarely seen footage of the series plus there will be separate screenings of two episodes, Lucille Ball in “K. O. Kitty” and Desi Arnaz in “So Tender, So Profane.”

Among the free events will be outdoor movies, a Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation-sponsored “Jamestown Loves Lucy” street festival, the Prendergast Library’s exhibit of studio audience Lucille Ball TV show tickets, original “Visions of Lucy” artwork on exhibit at Roberto’s Restaurant, and Lucy’s Mystery Theatre.

Fans will have the opportunity to qualify as finalists in three Lucy street competitions that will determine the festival’s best snail snackers, spaghetti eaters and salad dressing pushers! Komedy Kollege classes will teach ballooning, juggling, and clowning.

Collectors will have great opportunities all weekend long at the Collectors Show and the Lucy-Desi Memorabilia Auction. Film fests, Lucytown Tours, Lucy-Desi photo ops, great Lucy-Desi shopping, merchandise giveaways, and more will round out the festivities!

For complete ticket information, visit the Lucy-Desi Center web site at:

Hope you will be able to join us in Jamestown! Have a great week everybody!

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