Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Monday, January 27, 2003

Dear Fellow Lucy Fans,


It was certainly a melancholy week, marked by the death of one of our "Lucy family" members (Rosalyn Borden) and a memorial service for another (Dick Crenna). Both performers are beloved by Lucyfans for their single, yet very memorable, appearances in I Love Lucy. It is somewhat ironic that Dick passed away Thursday, January 16 -- one day shy of the 51st anniversary of the filming of his "Young Fans" episode, and Roz died a week later, one day shy of the 47th anniversary of the first telecast of her "Tennessee Bound" episode.

We last saw Roz -- and her twin sister Marilyn -- last May when fan club member Ron Paul invited Jimmy Garrett, Stuart Shostak and me to join the Bordens on his "Flying Home" radio program. The show originated in Fresno, California, and was carried "live" on the internet.

Roz and Marilyn drove down to Fresno from their new homes in Modesto (a 2.5 hour trip), and reminisced with us about working with Lucy. Roz was clearly not in the best of health even then, but, always the trouper, she was not going to let a little thing like illness stand in the way of a good performance. She was upbeat and cheerful -- and free with the one-liners. We will miss this nice lady very much!

Hollywood turned out in droves this past Saturday for the memorial service for Dick Crenna. Hosted at the TV Academy Theatre by his friend, Grant Tinker, speakers included, among others, Tyne Daly, Tim Conway, Mike Connors, Mike Wallace, Dick Martin, Mort Sahl, Dick Van Dyke, director Robert Wise, Kathleen Nolan and members of Dick's immediate family.

Among those attending were Bob Carroll, Madelyn Pugh Davis, Bob Schiller, Dann Cahn, Janet Waldo, Jay Sandrich, Jayne Meadows and son Bill Allen, CBS president Les Moonves, director Gene Reynolds, Jack Carter, Harvey Korman, Jackie Cooper, Tom Poston and Suzanne Pleshette, and so many more. All agreed that Crenna was an all-around "nice guy" -- or, as his son Richard put it, "indeed, the real McCoy."


Turning to our "Lucy Mailbag," we received an e-message this past week from a fan who signed himself only as "John," but was concerned about the new Lucy DVD series. He noted, correctly, that the next discs (volumes 5 and 6) will be issued in April. (These are the over-the-counter versions issued by Paramount Home Video. Volume 5 has been available for some time from the Columbia House subscription series; volume 6 will ship in a couple of weeks.)

John's comments:

  • "This next volume is being released 5 months after the last one. Why is this taking so long? I've heard that seasons 2-6 will be released as boxed sets, but at the rate they are going, we'll be lucky if all the episodes are out in 3 years!"

  • "Plus, the extras are going to be VERY limited, if any in the upcoming DVDs. I heard that Gregg Oppenheimer has only been able to find 7 other deleted scenes. I find this hard to believe. What about other things -- like Desi's warm-up act? What happened to the real bloopers?"

All good questions -- and I am sure they are shared by others. We need to remember, however, that I Love Lucy was produced 50 years ago, long before anyone ever heard of "home video," "bloopers" and "bonus material."

Film editor Dann Cahn, much to his own chagrin, has distinct memories of (at Desi's request) destroying reel after reel of I Love Lucy out-takes. This was back in the late 1950s, after the series had been sold by Desilu to CBS. "We thought we were done with the series," Danny explains. "No one cared about the out-takes back then. No one ever dreamed that the show would still be going strong 50 years after it finished production."

In all fairness, very few production companies saved things like out-takes and "blooper reels," at least until the 1970s, when Dick Clark started to fashion TV specials out of them!

Gregg tells us that the "deleted" scenes to which John refers, are the flashback introductions that were prepared in the 1950s as lead-ins to various repeats. Even if he had all of these, there were only 20 ever done. Gregg assures us, however, that there will be other interesting bonus-materials added to all of the DVDs.

While the producers of the discs would like to include as much "bonus material" as possible -- research has shown that very few consumers of DVDs in general actually view the add-ons. Most people consider them "nice to have," and say, "someday I'm gonna sit down and watch those things," but few ever do. (Except maybe we die-hard fans!)

As for the timing of the DVD releases -- John is correct, it will take quite a while for the entire series to be released. The five-month delay experienced between volumes 5 and 6, however, was the result of the company waiting to evaluate the success of the first few. Their original commitment was to do 5, see how they did in the marketplace, and decide whether or not to continue. Sales were very strong -- no surprise to us! -- and they are now proceeding.

- - - -

And lastly, Mark Easley writes, "Were there photos of Lucy that she was asked to autograph that she did not like? I have heard that the one of her in her backyard, leaning against a post with her arms crossed, was one of her favorite poses. Did she have any she did not like?"

The only photos she really disliked were paparazzi shots. She was of the old school, and believed in having nicely posed pictures and beautiful portraits taken for her fans. Normally, any of these that she did not like were "killed" before they saw the light of day.

You are right -- she loved the black-and-white taken of her in her backyard (photo below, left). There was one, however, she originally approved, had made up, then decided she did not like (photo below, right). "My God, the lips are huge," she cried. "I'm starting to look like Martha Raye!"


That's it for today; have a great week everybody!


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Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used with permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
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