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Lucy: A Tribute to Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball fans (and who out there isn't one?), rejoice! There's a new Third Edition of the only encyclopedia celebrating the life of the world's most popular comedienne: "Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia." Arranged alphabetically are entries covering the major aspects of Ball's life, her co-stars and her career. The new edition is completely revised and re-edited, updated through December 2003, and features a new table of contents and a comprehensive editorial index, to help readers more easily surf through the book. Buy it now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iUniverse online.
Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia
By Michael Karol
“A godsend!” — Lucie Arnaz
A mix of “Insight, fact, and trivia.” — Stefan Kanfer, author, Ball of Fire
“If you need any ’splainin’ about Lucy’s life and career, you’ll find it here!”
— Craig Hamrick, author of Barnabas & Co. and Big Lou
Lucille Ball fans, rejoice! The revised and expanded Third Edition of the best-selling Lucy A to Z — The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia is now available. Author and Lucy expert Michael Karol has thoroughly revised and re-edited the book, so that Lucy A to Z is easier to read, entries are easier to find (especially with a new 40-page index), and information is thoroughly updated through December 2003.
Lucy A to Z is the only Lucille Ball biography written in an encyclopedia format. Entries are alphabetical and easy to find so you can read the book straight through, or skip to your favorite people/subjects, such as:
The infamous “lost play” about Lucille Ball, Nobody Loves an Albatross;
Exclusive interviews with Jane Connell, Lucy’s secretary Wanda Clark, and others;
An in-depth look at the stage careers of the four I Love Lucy principals;
Individual biographies of everyone who impacted Lucy’s life;
A round-up of guest stars on all of Lucy’s TV series;
Critical evaluations of the 2003 TV Movies Lucy and The Deilu Story;
And much, much, more!
Many of the entries are based on publicity generated during the Golden Age of Hollywood, much of which has been ignored in other Lucy biographies. This Lucy news had been forgotten or lost for years until author Michael Karol unearthed it.
Lucie Arnaz called Lucy A to Z a “godsend” in helping her prepare for the I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary TV Special in November 2001.
Author Thom Holmes wrote, “Written in a fun and witty style, you will find it hard to put Lucy A to Z down once you start. It makes you wish there were a book like this about every major television sitcom and star.”
If you're a Lucille Ball fan — and who isn't? — you'll have to have the expanded, revised, and completely updated Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia.
Lucy A to Z
The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia
By Michael Karol
The Lucy Character
She is, by turns, childish, spiteful, envious, glamorous, kind, loving, pitiable and a million other identifiable traits. She is Lucy, the character played by Lucille Ball first in I Love Lucy (Lucy Ricardo), then in The Lucy Show (Lucy Carmichael), Here’s Lucy (Lucy Carter), and, finally, in Life with Lucy (Lucy Barker). Given the enormous success of Lucille Ball, it is safe to assume there is something about this character that rang true with the public and made people wanted to see her over and over again.
What was it about Lucy that we all loved? Created by Jess Oppenheimer and writers Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh for the radio show My Favorite Husband (1948-1951), Liz Cugat was the prototype for what would become Lucy Ricardo—essentially lovable, loyal to a fault, a bit envious of things that others had, and a dreamer with one fatal flaw: she wanted more. Her desire could be as simple as wanting a new outfit for Easter that husband George couldn’t afford or a lead part in the "Young Matrons" annual show.
As the character grew over three years in radio, the question became whether or not CBS would move the show to television, and, if so, how it could be best devised for that then-new medium. Ball’s express desire was to work with her husband Desi Arnaz on TV, and the network’s desire to work with her was ultimately stronger than its desire not to work with Arnaz. More became not only material things that Liz/Lucy wanted, but also the Lucy character’s fight to get out of the house, to liven up her humdrum existence, and to make it in show business. This latter desire was especially convenient since husband Ricky Ricardo (just like Arnaz) happened to be a successful bandleader, allowing Lucy many opportunities to "try out" for a show biz career.
In many senses, Lucy and Ricky were following the American Dream, as were many other families post-World War II. The 1950s, despite the nostalgia often shown for the era (by the media, usually), was actually an oppressive, restrictive time, when people were encouraged not to rock the boat, and sameness was a goal. And then along came Lucy: a pretty housewife who could handle the household, albeit with budget problems here and there. But she wanted more. The zaniness sprung from Lucy’s expression of her desire to free herself from the trap of conformity, to let one and all know she would not be stereotyped: she could be a star, after all!
Many Americans felt stifled by the 1950s, as paranoia ran rampant on many fronts, and fad after fad tried to convince us we were happy with our lives. Lucy Ricardo went out and did something about her life (or attempted to), which is what we all want to do. Housewives, especially, identified powerfully with Lucy’s drive to get out of the house. And the writers kept the plots grounded in reality: as America fanned out to the suburbs, so did the Ricardos.
Keeping it most real, of course, was Lucille Ball herself. Thomas Wagner, writer of the December 2000 PBS American Masters special on Ball called "Finding Lucy," noted, "She is extraordinarily consistent in her portrayal of that character. In fact, consistency was a hallmark of the entire series. The writing, the production values, the performances—it’s just remarkable."
By 1960, Ball and Arnaz were divorced. No one expected Ball to succeed again on television especially without Arnaz’s behind-the-scenes genius. After a brief gambit on Broadway (Wildcat), Lucy, missing the daily work and stability a series brought her, coaxed sidekick Vivian Vance to co-star with her in The Lucy Show (1962).
In the beginning, it was I Love Lucy without Fred and Ricky. But the magic of the two female co-stars, and Lucy’s gift for physical comedy, surprised everyone: the show was a big hit, never leaving the Top 10 in its six-year run, and more often than not in the top five. Those first three years, 1962-1965, were the golden ones, whether Lucy and Vivian were installing a new TV antenna, trying to reach the top bunk bed on stilts, losing a contact lens in a cake, putting in a shower, or getting stuck in a pile of coal in the basement. The audience believed in these characters, and rooted for them.
Lucy Carmichael and Vivian Bagley were, actually, in those first years of The Lucy Show, portraying the first solid relationship ever featured in a TV series, much less a sitcom, between two middle-age women, leavened with comedy. Both were mothers, one was widowed, and the other divorced. As we had followed the friendship of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz in the first series, so we followed the two characters as they "grew up." The situations mostly grew out of their need for money, and Lucy’s schemes to get it. The show business theme was trotted out regularly, too, even more so after Vance left the series in 1965 (she wanted to live the suburban Connecticut life she was portraying on TV)....
For more, see the book entry under "L."