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AALIYAH | Lucille Ball | Milton Berle | Les Brown | Karen Carpenter | Charles Chaplin's Son (Little Mouse) and Buckwheat | James Dean | The Del Rubio Triplets Minus Two | Morton Downey Jr | Roy Rogers and Dale Evans | Richard Farnsworth | John Gotti | Vince Guaraldi | Harry Houdini | Meyer Lansky | Liberace | Julie London | Raymond Massey | Marilyn Monroe | Jim Morrison | Carroll O'Connor and his son Hugh | Papa John Phillips | Elvis Presley | Mario Puzo | Claude Rains | Joey Ramone | The Rat Pack: Frank, Dean, Peter, and Sammy | STUDIO 54 owner Steve Rubell: Pasha of Disco | Gene Siskel | Ann Sothern | Andy Warhol
Tribute to Lucy
"The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age."
August 6, 1911 - April 26, 1989
Born Lucille Desiree Ball in Jamestown, New York. The strong willed redhead became fatherless at age four and despite the lack of guidance from her father, she developed a strong work ethic as a child. One job she had was that of a "seeing eye kid" for a blind soap peddler.
Perhaps to change the young Lucille's direction in life, her mother sent her for piano lessons, but instead Lucy wanted to pursue an acting career.
As a teen, she did amateur plays for the Elks Club and her high school. At one point she starred, staged, and publicized a production of "Charley's Aunt."
In 1926, Ball enrolled in the John Murray Anderson dramatic school in Manhattan, where Bette Davis was also a pupil, but due to her shyness she was discouraged by her teachers to continue. Her reticence notwithstanding, Ball plugged away until she got chorus girl and modeling jobs but even here she received little encouragement from her peers, and the combination of a serious auto accident and recurring stomach ailments seemed to bode ill for Ball's theatrical future. Still, she was no quitter and in 1933 managed to become one of the singing and dancing "Goldwyn Girls"for movie producer Samuel Goldwyn.
By the time she finished her MGM contract she was considered washed up
Ball's home life was none too secure, either. She had married Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz in 1940, but despite an obvious strong affection for one another, they had separated and considered divorce numerous times during the war years. Hoping to keep her household together, Ball sought out professional work in which she could work with Desi. She was finally offered her own starring TV series in 1950, but refused to do it unless Arnaz would co-star with her. The television executives were not favorable about having Lucy portray the wife of a Cuban and put up a lot of resistance before succumbing to Lucy’s demands.
Televison was a godsend for the Arnazs. Desi discovered he had a natural executive ability, and soon he was calling all the shots for what would become "I Love Lucy." From 1951 through 1957, I Love Lucy was the most popular sitcom on television. Ball was finally, after years of career stops and starts, firmly established as a mega_star in her role of a zany, disaster prone Lucy Ricardo.
When her much publicized baby was born in January 1952, the story received bigger press coverage than President Eisenhower's inauguration. With their new Hollywood prestige, Ball and Arnaz were able to set up the powerful Desilu Studio Production complex, ultimately purchasing the facilities of RKO, where both performers had once been contract players.
Soon professional pressures and personal problems began eroding the marriage and in 1960 Ball and Arnaz were divorced.
Lucille's last television appearance was just weeks before her death. She appeared with Bob Hope, who was in many respect her male counter part in show business. Together they presented a production number featuring rising young talent on the 1989 telecast of the Academy Awards.
She had a reputation for being a perfectionist who sometimes used salty language or a distant persona to get her point across. One of my girlfriends who was a stewardess that worked first class, had a direct encounter with Miss Ball.
On this one occasion, Lucille was on the plane with her personal secretary. When my friend attempted to ask Miss Ball if she wanted anything, her secretary interrupted my friend and said, "I'm sorry, but you must speak to me, Miss Ball does not talk to the help."
Also being difficult at times were not the only things that ate away at her health. She smoked like a chimney.
On April 19th, just eight days before her death, she complained of chest pains and was taken immediately to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Cardiologist Yuri Busi diagnosed, a dissecting aortic aneurysm, which in laymen's term, is a hole in the wall of the largest artery, the aorta, that feeds blood to the body. Lucy was sent to surgery within an hour. The surgeons performed an operation, that would take seven hours and forty minutes, in an attempt to save her life. A team of specialists worked to replace her aortic valve and a portion of the aorta itself. The heart must be stopped, making this procedure very risky.
At first she began to recover rapidly, which is no easy feat for anyone who has undergone such an extensive operation. Also a woman of her age, has a higher risk of postoperative complications.
When her daughter visited she lifted her oxygen mask and said, "Wouldn't you know this was the day I was suppose to get my hair color done." The next morning she got up and sat in a chair, and the day after that she was walking around her room with a little assistance. Things looked good for Lucille, as the worst seemed to be behind her.
The last time Dr. Busi saw Lucille, she was in high spirits, looking forward to getting on with her life. But the unforeseeable happened, on April 26th, just before dawn she woke with severe back pains and died within minutes. Her aorta had ruptured again, this time at a point fairly distant from the repaired location. A team of doctors and nurses worked feverishly to revive her, but there wasn't anything anyone could do. She was gone at the age of 77.
There was a question on whether or not the doctors should have replaced the entire aorta. Could that have saved her life? Doctors say that, theoretically it is possible to replace the entire aorta, but due to it's complexity, the operation is seldom performed.
Lucy is now interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Hollywood Hills in the Court of Remembrance. I walked into two other little rooms before entering the Columbarium of Radiant Light where she is interred. Out of all the little rooms I entered, I immediately felt that she was there. It was fragranced from all the flowers that were left behind for Thanksgiving. And there was a tree in the middle which was also very nice. She shares that room with the Walter Lantz creator of Woody Woodpecker. Her remains, and I would have to guess that she is cremated because it's such a small crypt, are located to the right as you walk in. There is a bronze plaque that reads, "MORTON," the name of her last husband. Then beneath it is Lucille Ball. Next to her is "Dede," her mother.
Since her death her last husband, Gary Morton, has died. He is interred elsewhere; perhaps because after Lucy died he remarried. She does however, share the Court of Remembrance, with many other stars such as Bette Davis, and Liberace.
The original marker that was stolen and replaced with the one below
Forest Lawn Cemetery - Hollywood Hills
6300 Forest Lawn Drive
Los Angeles, California
For directions to the cemetery see Bette Davis in the Glamour Girls Chapter.
Ask for a map at the gate, but don't ask for any celebrity directions or they will throw you out.
Follow the main road, Memorial Drive to Evergreen Drive make a left. Then at Ascension Road
make a right. Follow this to Vista Lane, left. You will be in front of the Court of Remembrance. Walk past Bette Davis into the Court. Once inside you'll notice you are in a square roomed
area, walk to the back left corner to the Columbarium of Radiant Light. Look on the right hand wall towards the corner, look for "Morton" that's where she is.
**Update on Lucy**
Looks like Lucie Jr and her brother have carried out plans for their mother to be uninterred and transferred to Lucy's hometown, Jamestown, New York . Most Californians are very upset with the move and resent the fact that her family went against Lucy's decision to buried in Los Angeles. I guess we should look at it in a positive way. Perhaps Lucie and Desi Jr. will erect a better headstone for their mother. She is now buried in Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, N.Y.
****Lucy's new location:****
907 Lakeview ave
Jamestown New York 14701
She is in Section "Highland"
Use the Lakeview Ave and Buffalo St. entrance. Pull in take the left
road as you enter,Than take the first right turn go just a little way
down the road and you will see a big tree with a Blue Dot spray
painted on it plus there is a sign Highland section. About 5 markers
from the tree and 5 rows in. You will see a big stone with the name
Clifford and a another one with Hunt on it.
Also back in May, Lucy's childhood home, located on 59 W. Lucy Lane (and I believe the house where she was born), was for sale on EBAY. I have heard that a private party did not purchase it , but Lucie
and her brother did. It will become an annex to the museum that is already there. Here are some photos of the house.
The Post Journal, Jamestown, N.Y.
Second Purchase Offer For Lucy’s Home In Celoron Has Been Received
Denver-Based Limited Partnership’s Bid Considerably Higher Than One Received From Lucie Arnaz
March 12, 2002 - Lucille Ball’s childhood home in Celoron has recently received a second — and higher—purchase offer, this one from a Limited Partnership based in Denver, according to real estate broker Bruce Turner.
Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Ms. Ball, made a purchase offer during her visit to Jamestown last week. She said the house at 59 Lucy Lane could be an annex of Jamestown’s Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum.
Ms. Arnaz said her offer was based on the much-lower comparable real estate sales in that area and not on the $98,500 list price.
The Denver offer was considerably higher than hers, Turner said.
‘‘We don’t know their intentions are yet,’’ Turner said of the second offer. ‘‘I’d like to think by the end of the week we’d have a better idea. But that’s between the boys and their attorney, Dale Robbins.’’
The ‘‘boys’’ are the owners of the Celoron property, Lloyd and Milt Faulkner. Their mother bought the home in the 1920’s and lived in it until September 2001. They sold it for $101,000 last year, but the buyer could not close the deal.
Robbins was unavailable for comment.
Turner last month put the house on eBay’s internet auction site, not as an item up for auction but as a means to advertise it worldwide.
His plan worked.
As of Monday morning, the site had 25,799 visitors and Turner had mailed information packets to several out-of-state interested parties.
A story last week on NBC’s Today show has helped catapult the property’s popularity, Turner said. Since then, the Wall Street Journal has called for an interview and hits to the eBay Web site have doubled.
‘‘We’ve done our job,’’ Turner said.
An article from The New York Times concerning the removal of Lucy's ashes:
The New York Times
In a Small Upstate City, They Love Lucy Anew
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
The Associated Press
JAMESTOWN, N.Y., March 17 — Lucy and Ethel, mouths stuffed with chocolate from that famous factory scene in "I Love Lucy," peer down from the side wall of the Jones Bakery here. Lucy and Ricky, in another mural, stare out from the side of the post office, on Prendergast Street.
Just around the corner, in a cramped storefront on Pine Street here in the town of Lucille Ball's birth, is the Lucy-Desi Museum. Here, tourists from around the world marvel at Miss Ball's gowns, the vintage movie projector from her Beverly Hills home, the Ricky Jr. dolls, letters to hometown friends, troves of family and studio photographs, and of course, in the gift shop, Vitameatavegamin polyester ties, "I Love Lucy" Monopoly games, coffee mugs, shower curtains and T-shirts galore.
But, wait, there could be more.
Lucie Arnaz, the actress and singer who is the daughter of Miss Ball and Desi Arnaz, came to this faded Rust Belt city this month to announce that it was time "to take the museum to the next level of development."
That means a larger space, for starters, with more exhibits.
Ms. Arnaz also would like to bring home Ms. Ball's ashes from Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills to Lakeview Cemetery here. She has bid on Ms. Ball's childhood home in nearby Celeron, which has an asking price of $98,500. And she is forming a nonprofit organization to take over the museum from the local arts council, which also runs two annual festivals.
Although Ms. Arnaz declined to be interviewed, she said in a statement, "We came to the understanding that it was time for the museum to have board leadership that was focused on it alone."
That was the best news to hit this city of 32,000 people, 80 miles south of Buffalo, since, well, in a real long time.
Factories that turned out furniture and other goods have closed in the past few decades, leaving boarded-up houses and empty storefronts.
Some Hollywood luster may be just the thing to make Jamestown shine again. Sure, there is a big ice arena going up downtown, a couple of office buildings have opened and a hotel is under construction. But as an official at the county visitor's bureau put it: "Lots of communities have these things. What distinguishes us is Lucille Ball came from here."
Jamestown has followed the time-honored tradition of hometowns celebrating their sons and daughters with shrines.
Graceland and Dollywood are the extremes. But there are more than a dozen smaller shrines, including the Judy Garland Museum (Grand Rapids, Minn.); the Jimmy Stewart Museum (Indiana, Pa.); the James Dean Memorial Gallery (Fairmount, Ind.) and the Ava Gardner Museum (Smithfield, N.C.).
Lynne Arany, a travel writer and author of "Little Museums" (Henry Holt, 1998), a guide to celebrity and oddball museums across the country, said such places tend to honor celebrities a couple of generations removed from the present.
"There is a certain nostalgia factor, but also a real pride and a feeling of glamour from an era when the celebrities still had mystique," Ms. Arany said.
Jamestown believes it has hit a favored-son and -daughter trifecta. Apart from the Lucy-Desi Museum, there is the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, dedicated to the famed naturalist and painter, and the fledgling Robert H. Jackson Center, which plans to open in the fall to commemorate the life and work of the former United States Supreme Court justice who served as chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.
"I think there are a lot of symbiotic relationships here," said Gregory L. Peterson, a lawyer who founded the Jackson center and plans marketing tie-ins with the Lucy-Desi Museum and the Peterson Institute.
Lucille Ball, of course, has a greater name recognition, as one of most popular television stars ever. "I Love Lucy" ran from Oct. 15, 1951, to June 24, 1957, and was followed by a succession of "Lucy" sitcoms that ended in 1974.
"I Love Lucy" has attracted new fans through ubiquitous reruns that continue to this day. There are more than a dozen Lucy-inspired Web sites and chat groups. Lucy memorabilia is widely traded.
John Sember, the coordinator of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce, fields a constant stream of calls about Lucy.
"I got a call today from Ontario," Canada," Mr. Sember said. "This woman said, `I have to get to Jamestown to see Lucy's house.' She has cancer in the back and she is going for an operation, and her dream was to come to Jamestown to see it."
This comes as no surprise to Ric B. Wyman, who has written two books about "I Love Lucy."
After all, as he put it: "This is not Charo. This is Lucy. She is someone who touches everyone."
Playing Lucy Ricardo, Miss Ball made numerous references to Jamestown and Celeron on the show — the museum shows the clips — and the names of some of Lucy Ricardo's friends were the same as real people in Jamestown.
So people here are mostly forgiving of the fact that Miss Ball had not publicly visited Jamestown since 1956, when the movie "Forever Darling" with Mr. Arnaz had its grand opening at the old Palace Theater. (Some residents say she came back for private visits in later years.)
Miss Ball was all set for a triumphant return to Jamestown when she died on April 26, 1989, just a few weeks before the local community college was to honor her.
"The whole city was decorated," recalled Tim Seastedt, a Jamestown native who was browsing in the museum gift shop. "There was a huge display in City Hall. It was very sad. You could feel it through the whole city."
Mr. Wyman, 33, traces his infatuation with Lucy to watching reruns as a boy.
"I don't think any other actress had the ability to make you believe a nine-foot loaf of bread could pop out of the oven," Mr. Wyman said, referring to an episode in which Lucy and Ethel pulled off such a feat. "Elizabeth Taylor can't do that."
In 1999, he gave up life in Stevens Point, Wis., to become executive director of the museum, a post he held until August, when he was demoted to the gift shop for reasons he said were not explained to him. Officials at the Arts Council did not return calls seeking comment.
The Arnaz family was said to be unhappy with the move, and some in town believe it helped persuade Ms. Arnaz, who had befriended Mr. Wyman, to take over the museum. The timing was fortuitous: the family's 10-year contract with the Arts Council to operate such a museum expired March 13, and lawyers are negotiating an official transfer for the beginning of next month.
Although the museum has had 60,000 visitors since it opened in 1996, Mr. Wyman said there is untapped potential. A larger space could allow for theaters where seldom-seen episodes could be screened. The famed living room set could be recreated. A library could hold Miss Ball's papers.
He has talked to Graceland.
"It's hard to tell where we will end up," Mr. Wyman said.
But visitors seem content with what is already there. The museum is probably best appreciated by die-hard fans like Thomas Pritty of Niagara Falls, Ontario, who can recite all the dialogue and even knows the titles of the 180 episodes of "I Love Lucy."
"It's timeless comedy," said Mr. Pritty, visiting with his wife, Janice, and 10-year-old daughter, Katelyn. "It's a show we can turn on for her and all enjoy without worrying about sexual double entendres or violence."
Others note the enduring appeal of a classic. "Ah, nostalgia," said one entry in the guest book. "She was a sweetie! When we live it, do we ever realize that it's history in the making?"