Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Monday, February 24, 2003

Dear Fellow Lucy Fans,


Lucie on "Law & Order"

Lucie Arnaz, too long absent from prime time television, will make a guest appearance this week on NBC's popular Law & Order police series. She plays a hated cosmetics executive that's involved in a murder. The program airs Wednesday evening, February 26, at 10-11PM (Eastern/Pacific time). Check your local listings for exact time and channel in your area.

Lucy on "The Wonder Show"

I spent time this past weekend listening to the first two episodes of Jack Haley's 1938 CBS Radio series, The Wonder Show. As I mentioned here two weeks ago, a collector of old radio programs has unearthed 20 episodes of this 26-week series -- and discovered that not only was Lucille Ball a regular on the program, but Gale Gordon was the announcer. What fun to go back 65 years (!!!) and hear these two familiar voices working together, probably for the first time.

The man who owns the recordings of this series wants to make them available to Lucy fans on CD (two half-hour shows to a disc) -- and we will be selling them ("collector to collector") here on this web site beginning later this week.

I do not think you will be disappointed in these shows. Yes, the comedy is terribly dated, but it is fascinating to hear Jack Haley notice that Gale Gordon is growing a mustache -- and that half of it is still mascara! Haley talks about his then latest film -- "Alexander's Ragtime Band" for FOX -- and mentions that Lucy is being seen in "Room Service" and "The Affairs of Annabel" for RKO. They speak of the age of television being just around the corner, not knowing that a year later World War II would delay TV for nearly a decade. Gale, of course, does the commercials -- for Wonder Bread and Hostess Cupcakes!


Turning to our "Lucy Mailbag," we received an e-message this past week from "Meg," who signs herself as "Lucy's biggest fan." She wanted to know:

"Did Lucy have any favorite TV shows? Did she ever watch I Love Lucy in reruns? What kind of music did she listen to? What was her favorite song/artist?"

During the period of time that I worked with Lucy (mid-to-late 1980s), Lucy tended to watch what I would call "non-fiction" television. She normally started her weekend with Barbara Walters' 20/20 (then on Friday nights), and ended it with CBS' 60 Minutes. During the week, she loved to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune during the dinner hour. Lucie Arnaz recalls many a meal interrupted by her mother screaming "buy a vowel!" at the nearby TV set!

Lucy would also watch the late-afternoon talk shows (Phil Donahue and Oprah), often while playing backgammon with one of her friends.

On the entertainment side, Golden Girls was a particular favorite.

Lucy DID watch reruns of I Love Lucy, which in those pre-cable days were still being shown on a local station. She especially enjoyed watching Vivian Vance. Often times, however, she would cringe at some of her own performances. Stuart Shostak, who worked as her archivist during this period, recalls watching her watch I Love Lucy, and having her blurt out, "Oh, I wish I had done that differently" -- often at some of her most famous "bits." She confessed to me that she worried that her 1950s mugging came off as "dated" on 1980s television.

Lucy's taste in music tended to run toward what was then called "middle of the road" -- vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jack Jones, Steve and Eydie, etc. She loved Bobby Darrin, probably her all-time favorite. Husband Gary loved to listen to jazz -- and they both loved hearing music "live." The Mortons had two tunes that they called "our songs" -- "Just in Time" and "Make Someone Happy," both of which were popular when they were first dating, back in 1961.

Hope this sheds a little light on Lucy's media habits...


Have a great week!


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