Still in Love with Lucy
by Thomas Watson
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Dear Fellow Lucyfans,
Hope everyone had a great holiday!
We have been away from the web site for a few weeks, tending to other business, so we have a little catching up to do...
Lucy Intros the Circus
For years fans have been asking me the source of the photo, right, in which Lucy is seen wearing a pointed clown-hat and waving a balloon on a stick. Some people thought it might have been from the "Lucy and Superman" episode (because of the festive outfit), but Lucy does not wear this pants-and-vest set in that 1956 episode, nor does she wear such a hat or carry a balloon.
We just recently discovered the truth -- and it has not been documented in any of the regular Lucy TV reference books... There's a chance you are reading about it here for the first time!
On Friday, December 16, 1955, Lucy and Desi introduced a "live" CBS broadcast of the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus. The on-air title was "Christmas with the Greatest Show on Earth," but Lucy refers to it as "General Foods Circus Christmas Party." Lucy and Desi were there because I Love Lucy at that point was co-sponsored by General Foods...
Also appearing in cameos on the broadcast were other General Foods stars, including Eve Arden (of Our Miss Brooks), Spring Byington (of December Bride), Peggy Wood (of Mama), Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Pat Brady (of The Roy Rogers Show), and Johnny Carson (of The Johnny Carson Show). All but Roy Rogers was a CBS program.
All of these TV-star cameos were filmed in advance and integrated into the "live" telecast. Lucy and Desi's introduction (which runs approximately 47 seconds) was filmed at Desilu on November 10, 1955, the night they filmed "Ricky's European Booking." (Yes, Lucy wears the pants-and-vest set in that show .)
The Arnazes, in essence, appear as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (although no names are exchanged). He walks in and says "Hi, honey..." Lucy, dressed in the pointy hat and waving the balloon, then describes the special show they are about to see. Desi (Ricky ?) turns on their TV set and the two settle in to watch... The scene then fades to the opening of the actual circus, presented "live" from the Ringling Bros' winter quarters in Sarasota, Florida. Charlton Heston, who starred in the motion picture, "The Greatest Show on Earth," was the official host.
"Christmas with the Greatest Show on Earth" aired in the Friday 8-9pm time period (Eastern Time), pre-empting Mama and Our Miss Brooks. Because the special was a "live" broadcast, all that remains are kinescope recordings of the show.
It is always a pleasure for us to find new pieces of information about Lucy and Desi's TV heritage... We thought you'd like to know about it, too...
"Wildcat" Returns to CD
DRG Records will re-issue the original cast "album" of Lucy's 1960 Broadway musical, "Wildcat," on January 27...
Included in the package is an informative booklet, with photos from the collection of longtime Lucyfan (and author/educator) Skip Koenig.
The recording is priced at $17.98, and is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com
Post Office Salutes Early Television
The United States Post Office will again salute I Love Lucy with a new commemorative stamp to be released August 11 in Los Angeles. It will be part of a 20-stamp set that pays tribute to the early days of television.
The Lucy stamp will feature Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, as Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory.
Other stamps in the set will salute Jack Webb and Dragnet; Groucho Marx and You Bet Your Life; The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; The Ed Sullivan Show; The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show; Hopalong Cassidy; The Honeymooners; Howdy Doody; Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Lassie; The Lone Ranger; Perry Mason; The Phil Silvers Show; Red Skelton; Texaco Star Theatre; The Tonight Show and Twilight Zone.
This will be the third US postage stamp to feature Lucille Ball. An earlier I Love Lucy commemorative stamp was issued in 1999 and a Lucille Ball stamp was issued in 2001.
"Password" and "My Three Sons" on DVD
Two of TV's longest-running programs, the game show Password and the sitcom My Three Sons, are gaining new fans on DVD.
"The Best of Password" was issued by the BCI Eclipse division of Navarre Corporation in early December -- and is a real winner if you liked this classic game show. Lucille Ball is featured in two 1964 episodes, one with husband Gary Morton, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Jr. A second features Lucy, Gary, Vivian Vance and Peter Lawford.
We are hopeful this set sells "through the roof" because BCI had big plans to issue other classic TV game shows -- including What's My Line -- but the current economy has forced the company to at least temporarily suspend operations. If the Password set is a success, maybe the parent company will revive plans for the other shows... (We can dream can't we?)
CBS/Paramount Home Video released My Three Sons "Season One/Part One" this past autumn, and will follow up with "Season One/Part Two" on January 20. William Frawley, of course, co-starred in the show.
Glen Charlow Featured on "Collector's News"
Longtime Lucy fan Glen Charlow was featured recently in a cover story of "Collector's News." It was issued in mid-December, but is still available on some newsstands and on their web site. The cover-story article featured items from Glen's huge collection.
You can access the site at: http://www.collectors-news.com
FROM PREVIOUS LETTERS...
Desi Arnaz and Mary Crosby in "Love Letters"
Desi Arnaz Jr. and his childhood friend, Mary Crosby, team up in January for a one-time-only performance of "Love Letters," the two-person play by A.R. Gurney.
"Love Letters" will be presented at the Historic Boulder Theatre in Boulder City, Nevada (about 20 minutes outside Las Vegas) on Saturday afternoon, January 24, 2009, at 4pm.
Tickets sell for $40 each. (All seats reserved.)
This special performance is a fund raiser for Desi and Amy Arnaz's non-profit Boulder City Ballet Company.
To order tickets, call (702) 293-1161.
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Original materials © 2009 Lucyfan Enterprises. All rights reserved.
"I Love Lucy" is copyrighted by and a registered trademark of CBS Worldwide, Inc.
Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used with permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
Licensing by Unforgettable Licensing, Northbrook, Illinois.