Ruta Lee Rocks JamestownCanyon News, August 10, 2008
Anyone who knows Ruta Lee knows how she can charm you. From heads of state, royalty and fans, Miss Lee is one of the most incredibly warm people you will ever have the opportunity to meet, if you are so lucky.
The long awaited event in honor of Lucille Ball was the venue last weekend in Jamestown, New York. Ruta was accompanied by her handsome and distinguished husband, Webb Lowe. This couple is on every guest list in Hollywood and around the nation, so having Ruta and Webb attend this much anticipated fan event was a dream come true for the directors of The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center.
Ruta guest starred on several episodes of "The Lucy Show" and became very close to the actress over the years. Ruta still has many of Lucy's handkerchiefs, which Lucy became famous for wearing around her head on and off screen. Lucy's daughter gave them to Ruta after her mother passed on.
Ruta Lee's career is as distinguished as any great star in Hollywood. She's worked with legends from Marlene Dietrich to Frank Sinatra and Tyrone Power. Hollywood and the public still raves about two of her most famous films, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Seargents 3." Miss Lee is one of the hardest working artists and business women in the industry. Ruta Lee worked on as many television series over the years as any other actress today. From series like "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza," "Wagon Train" and even "The Andy Griffith Show." Ruta has done it all.
But her performances on "The Lucy Show" are on DVD now and part of comedy history. One episode had Ruta working opposite Milton Berle. Ruta was in cameo auditioning for a role as a wife stealer. Well, needless to say, she was so good at her audition for Berle that Lucy overheard it on the intercom and proceeded to believe that Ruta and Milton Berle were indeed having an affair behind his wife's back. The madcap mayhem ended in a bowl of salad being poured over Berle's head. Ruta said of that scene, "The four of us laughed so hard during that scene that I actually wet my pants." Ruta also said, "Lucille Ball was a heavy duty taskmaster. She respected hard work, she did so and expected her costars to be able to handle what was necessary as well."
Ruta Lee is beloved just as much as Lucille Ball. So it was a great idea to have one legend honor another.
The director of marketing for the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center told Canyon News, "Ruta was fabulous and really charmed the audience at the Reg Lenna Civic Center in downtown Jamestown, Saturday night! The Civic Center is the beautifully restored former Palace Theatre where a young Lucille Ball watched vaudeville with her grandfather."
"I Remember Lucy: An Evening with Ruta Lee" opened with the screening of a short clip from the 1967 episode of The Lucy Show, "Lucy Meets the Berles," which guest-starred Ruta and Milton Berle. Then our director, Ric Wyman, welcomed the audience and introduced "Lucy's Substitute Secretary," another 1967 episode of The Lucy Show in which Ruta gueststarred. Ric explained that this episode is not available on home video and the audience would be enjoying a rare 16 mm print, complete with its imperfections. "With the audience still laughing at Lucy's outrageousness - and admiring Ruta's talents! -Ruta came on stage in a beautifully sparkling gold two-piece outfit."
She also added, "Ruta shared wonderful stories about her own life (including how she met her dashing husband, Webb Lowe) as well as wonderful, and sometimes very touching, stories about The Queen of Comedy. I won't even begin to try to re-tell these, as you'll have the opportunity to get them more accurately when you speak with her. She also brought her own clips that she shared, letting the audience get a glimpse of her varied and extensive career, the range of outstanding leading men she's performed with, and her commitment to The Thalians. All the Lucy fans in the audience were particularly moved when Ruta shared the video of the Awards presentation when Lucille Ball was the first woman to receive The Thalians Mrs. Wonderful Award."
Ruta says, "Sammy Davis Jr. was the one who presented this award to Lucy. He had been a previous honoree. Saturday evening was one of the most spectacular evenings I have ever been a part of. I was touched by the love in the room and the way people still love Lucy. I am honored that I was a guest star and was able to share my memories of Lucy with the audience."
Another star that attended the event was Allan Glaser. The prolific talented producer and author, who wrote "I Love Lucy Paper Doll" was as popular as Ruta to fans in attendance. Glaser tells Canyon News, "The convention was fabulous. Jamestown (where Lucy was born) is charming and thousands of people from all over came to pay tribute to the 'queen of comedy.' Vivian Vance's sister came and spoke. Ruta Lee did a show where she saluted Lucy and I signed dozens of my Lucy book. A good time was had by all!"
For Ruta, who later answered dozens of questions for fans from all over the U.S. and her native Canada, Saturday night ended with her receiving a standing ovation from an appreciative audience. Following this, a reception was held where participants could have their pictures taken with Ruta and get her autograph.
"On Sunday afternoon Ruta and Webb were the special Mystery Guests for one of our two-hour Lucytown Tours." Brininger also said, "We also captured her hands and footprints in cement for a future exhibit."
Actress Ruta Lee is just as busy as ever. Her next project, a made for television movie, "For Better or For Worse," which also stars Chad Allen, Janeane Garofalo and Soleil Moon Frye, is scheduled for release later this year.
"I think the Funny lady was smiling down on us last weekend. I am just honored that my husband Webb and I were a part of such an incredible event," Ruta said.