glen sure does love lucy

Star of the Month on TCM

lucille ballLUCILLE BALL, we love lucy
by: Robert Osborne

Our July star of the month always had a quick comeback whenever anyone asked her if Lucille Ball was her real name. "Good grief," she'd say, "do you think I'd choose that for a name?" The name was genuine; so was she.

The only thing faux about Lucy was the color of her hair. She was actually a brunette and didn't become a redhead until MGM cast her in her first Technicolor movie, DuBarry Was a Lady (which we'll be showing July 30). It was in 1946's Easy to Wed (airing on TCM July 16) that she initially wore the orange shade, courtesy of MGM hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff, which became the Lucy trademark forever after.

Lucy is someone who I'm proud to say took me under her wing when I first arrived in Hollywood many, many years ago, and became my first showbiz boss, then my mentor and my friend. The thing about her that surprised me most as I got to know her was how little Lucille Ball had in common with her TV alter ego, Lucy Ricardo. Lucy was zany; Lucille was a serious woman. Lucy was ditzy and mischievous; Lucille was sure-footed and monitored. Whereas the TV Lucy character thrived on chaos, the real Lucille was the epitome of no-nonsense organization. She also dismissed those people who'd refer to her as "the great comedienne." That was a label she felt belonged to her idol, Carole Lombard. ("She was so beautiful and had such class," she'd say. "Me? I always look like I should be selling cigarettes at Ciro's.") One of the rituals I remember most, and with great fondness, were evenings spent at the Arnaz residence on Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills, when Lucy would invite six or seven of us for dinner - Desi was usually away on business, much to Lucy's frustration. After hearty conversation and a filling meal she'd show a classic movie in her living room on a theater-sized screen. Sometimes we could coax her into seeing an old I Love Lucy episode or one of her movies like The Big Street, but she always preferred watching someone else's work, like Lombard's, or Rosalind Russell in a TV kinescope of Wonderful Town or, her all-time favorite film, John Ford's When Willie Comes Marching Home with Dan Dailey. Those were great times, and Lucille Ball was an unforgettable lady. I hope you're as excited as I am that we'll be spending a lot of time with her, and her monumental talent, throughout this month.

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