Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Dear Fellow Lucy Fans,

Cannot believe it was 14 years ago today that Lucille Ball left us. One of the reasons, of course, is that her "stardom" -- her popularity -- is as strong as ever. Lucy seems to be everywhere... There's a new Travel Channel documentary scheduled for April 29, a new CBS made-for-television movie ("Lucy") scheduled for May 4, two Lucy festivals being planned in Jamestown, New York (one in May, one in August), an on-going series of DVDs arriving in video stores, and a whole raft of new and wonderful Lucy-related books and merchandise in development. Were she still with us, I am sure she would be totally awed by all of this!

I was asked recently what I missed most about Lucy-the-person, and, again, that is a hard thing to pin down. There are so many things about her I miss... One thing is her gusto and enthusiasm for whatever she seemed to be doing, be it playing a round of backgammon or performing on stage. She truly lived in the moment!

I remember one time -- 16 years ago today as a matter of fact! -- Lucy was appearing in a huge 3-hour television special saluting the 100th anniversary of Hollywood. Alexander Cohen, longtime producer of Broadway's Tony Awards, had asked nearly every star in Hollywood to participate, and even though Lucy normally said no to these things, she had agreed to do this one...

It was early on a Sunday afternoon... I went by Lucy's house, expecting to meet her at the door, dash back out to the car and be off... Instead she asked me to come in and help her with her things... Things? I wondered... What things? Well, the dining room table was filled with a big cooler and picnic basket chock-full of sandwiches and soft drinks...

"I've done these things before," she explained. "They expect us there by 2 o'clock to rehearse, they start taping at 5, and we'll be lucky to be out of there by midnight... God only knows what they have in mind for us to eat!"

Behind her playful sarcasm I could see the little girl in her making our day an adventure... It was a job for her, but if she was going to be "locked up" all day at the Shrine Auditorium (where the show was being staged), she was going to have fun with it... And, indeed, she did... Not only did we have her homemade snacks, but she spent most of her time backstage dashing back and forth from one dressing-room area to another, visiting with dozens of old friends.

So, yes, Lucy's passion and youthful enthusiasm for whatever she was doing is clearly one of the things I miss most...

Hugs to all who miss her, too... Until next time...

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