Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Monday, December 30, 2002 (REVISED)

Dear Fellow Lucy Fans,

Happy New Year! May 2003 be a great year for all of us!


Columbia House Strikes Again

There is both good and bad news from Columbia House Video Library: First the good news: the company is hard at work preparing the next batch of I Love Lucy DVDs. The company is taking its time with these, trying to provide the best possible video imaging and as many "little extras" as possible, so it will be a while before these are finished and available for purchase.

Now the bad news: in order to stay competitive with the over-the-counter television DVDs flooding the video stores (including the Paramount releases of these Columbia House discs), Columbia House is dropping the price of its subscription discs from $24.95 to $19.95. Why is this bad news? Because it only applies to NEW subscribers. If you are already enrolled to receive the discs, you will be billed at the original $24.95 price.

This is the second time something like this has happened. It happed years ago when Columbia House released I Love Lucy on VHS tape. When the series first started the tapes sold for about $29.95. It took many years for the series to be completed, and somewhere along the way the price was reduced to $19.95 -- but, again, the company neglected to tell the original subscribers, who were still billed the original price. At that point, enough of us complained that they agreed to reduce our fees to the lower rate, but we still had to ask for it individually. They did not automatically lower everyone's billing to the lower price.

Columbia House has changed hands and management teams over the years, so I am not sure how the current management plans to deal with the pricing problem. The best solution at this point is for everyone who is currently enrolled in the Lucy DVD series to write Columbia House and ask/demand that when the next batch of discs is released, they be billed at the new $19.95 rate.

We will keep you updated if we hear more on this...

Lucy in "Biography"

As many of you already may know, an article on Lucy is included in the new January, 2003, issue of "Biography" magazine. It is a nice 5+ page spread that attempts to provide a look of Lucy's life before, during and after her triumph in I Love Lucy. Moreover, it is illustrated with at least two dozen beautifully reproduced photos.

Alas, the article -- and especially the photo captions -- are riddled with mistakes. (Dates are wrong on many of the pictures, and a photo of Lucy's beloved grandpa is identified as being of her father!) While we love the idea that a reputable publication like this wants to run a full-fledged article about Lucy -- we wish they would walk the extra mile and double-check the names, dates and places it mentions.


Continuing the tradition established a couple of weeks ago, we would like to close by answering a few questions about Lucy herself:

Lucy at Home

We Love Lucy Member Mark Easley recently wrote:

  • "What was Lucy's phone number at the house? I know that sounds crazy, but that would be cool to know."

  • "Was she ever able to just walk in her neighborhood, like maybe walk her dog?"

Lucy had many phone numbers over the years, and often had multiple lines (each with its own number) at the same time -- one for personal calls, one for business, etc. In the 1980s when I was working for her she had three lines, but the one we used most often was 274-4002. The area code for all of Los Angeles in those days was "213."

PLEASE: do not call that number! I am sure the number has been re-assigned by the phone company to someone else, and the last thing that person needs is for a zillion people to call and ask for Lucy. Besides -- what would you say if she answered?

As for taking walks, YES, she loved to exercise, and often walked around her Beverly Hills neighborhood, especially early in the morning when few tourists were around. She and Gary would often drive over to the nearby Beverly Hills business district -- posh Rodeo Drive, etc. -- where they would park and walk up and down the streets looking in all the windows.

Again, this was early in the morning before the stores actually opened and the streets became crowded. When they did meet other strollers, Lucy would keep her head down or stare into a window, trying not to be recognized. (She was not unfriendly, but this was "personal time.")

One morning in late 1988/early '89, as Lucy and Gary were walking along Rodeo, they passed an elderly gentleman who looked vaguely familiar -- and he and Gary greeted each other like old friends. "Hi, Lucy!" the man enthused, "it's so good to see you again!" He patted her hand and toddled off. Once he was out of earshot Lucy turned to Gary: "Who was THAT?" she asked. "Pan Berman," Gary replied. "OH MY GOD!" Lucy gasped, more than a little embarrassed. "I used to date him!"*

That was Lucy!


Have a great week everybody -- and, again, Happy New Year!

*Indeed, Berman was Lucy's mentor at RKO,
and later produced "The Long, Long Trailer"
for her at MGM.


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Original materials © 2002 Lucyfan Enterprises. All rights reserved.
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Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used with permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
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