August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989
Just thinking about this woman, makes me want to light up. She played one hell of a funny lady on screen. The jury is still out regarding her parental skills, but she was a great entertainer. My all time favorite Lucy story was told by her mega-talented daughter Lucie Arnaz, at the beginning of the book, Love, Lucy “One of my mother’s favorite things to do, when a small group of people were involved in some ordinary conversation, was to wait until one of them left the room and as soon as she returned, blurt out convincingly, “Here she is now! Why don’tcha tell her to her face?!!”” You can almost hear Lucy’s black lunged laugh, “BWAAAAAAAhoa hoa hoa hoa!”
Here’s a picture of Lucy’s first home in Hollywood, which would probably go for about 1.3 million in 2013. Not because of Lucy, but just because.
On Tuesday April 18th, 1989 she was at her home of a hundred years at 1000 N. Roxbury,
in Beverly Hills, when she started experiencing chest pains. Her husband, Gary Morton, called the ambulance, and she was rushed to the Emergency Room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center,
where she underwent bypass surgery for eight hours. She received an aorta, from a 27 year old male victim of a motorcycle crash. A big thanks for the Cedars photo’s goes to Terri Rios.
By Wednesday, 14 hours after surgery, Lucy awakened, and asked Gary Morton, “How’s the dog doing?” Gary said, “I’m fine, thanks.” Kidding. Sort of. He released this quote: “Her Irish eyes are smiling.” Hollywood went buh-nanas with get well wishes. Just across the street from the hospital, the Hard Rock Cafe erected a sign Lucy.
All signs were looking good for ol’ Lu, when “suddenly and without warning” the aorta burst. Doctors said (no doubt, scared shitless about a lawsuit) that the rupture occurred far from where a portion of her aortic valve was replaced during surgery last week. Wherever it burst was irrelevant. On Wednesday the 26th of April 1989, at 6am, the world became Lucy-less.
She was 77 years old.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce put flowers on her star on the Walk of Business Cards.
There were three public memorial services scheduled around the country for her. One in Los Angeles, one in Chicago hosted by Irv Kupcinet which I attended, and one in New York. They were all held at 8pm on Monday, May 8th. The same time I Love Lucy used to air on television.
Lucy’s real funeral was private. Gary Morton released a statement, and I’m paraphrasing, “There’s a guy with a hearse that shows people where people are buried. None of us want that.”
Lucy was cremated, and she was interred in the Columbarium of Radiant Dawn, at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills. This is a cremation niche she chose for herself and her mother.
Not happy with that, in March of 2002, Lucy’s dug her up and moved them to Jamestown, NY. Lucy is now a tourist attraction in a place she did not want to be buried, so she can generate cash for her children.
Post Script: Gary Morton aka Mr. Lucy, died on March 30, 1999 in Palm Springs. He had remarried towards the end of his life.
The house on Roxbury Drive was unfortunately reconstructed in recent years. You can see the various stages. So, the exterior walls and windows are in the same place, but it’s a very different house now. But not a different house, if you know what I mean.
They even took down the famous wall that Lucy and Ethel hopped over to grab a grapefruit from Richard Widmark’s house, though they really used Lucy’s own wall. Of course I grabbed a brick. Think I’m stupid? Don’t answer that. Here’s a rare picture of the pool, in the back yard.
Trivia: Here’s the letter I received from Lucy, when I wrote her a fan letter. The portrait at the top of this page came with it.
More: Here’s the soundstage, where the I Love Lucy was filmed. You probably remember the episode when Lucy and Ethel take the stars homes tour. They actually used Lucy’s real house.
Universal Studios has a Lucy retrospective, including a model of the room where Lucy had her backgammon table set up with a view of the yard through the window. There was also a list pinned near the telephone, which I tried to get a picture of. The list is entitled, “Always asked Whom do I laugh at:” and the list of names follows. I like to think its authentic, but I doubt it.
My friend Mike works at Paramount Studios, which has consumed the old RKO/Desilu studio, but within the complex is Lucy’s old bungalow, a Lucy Building, and a Lucy park. Tom Cruise’s offices are close by. Tom Cruise has a golf cart with tinted windows, and people are instructed NOT to look when he drives past. Tom Cruise is nuts.
Just for fun, here’s a great shot of Lucy and Judy Garland. You can smell the nicotine in this picture, can’t you?
Findadeath.com friend Mike Pare writes:
Lucie has made a second career out of bashing her Mom, including her Emmy winning special, which was overly favorable to Desi Sr. without taking into account how it affected her as a woman to have the entire town know that her hubby was screwing everything around, and was drunk all the time. She doesn’t seem to realize that those were different times, and that she (Lucie) grew up with the advantages that her Mom never had. Yes, Lucy was abrasive, and “direct”, but her kindnesses towards many unfortunates and co workers and extended family were legendary, though kept quiet by herself. Interestingly, the house in Beverly Hills on Roxbury that she bought for $80,000, sold after her death for nearly $10,000,000. Henry Fonda once said when he mentioned to her that he was buying a new home, she advised him to check all the pipes, he didn’t listen, they burst, and he said “Now I know why it was Desilu” – they had dated in the 30’s and he said if he’d played his cards right it would’ve been Henrylu!!
APRIL 2001 – Findadeath.com friends Tucker and D. Helbling send this in:
The AFRP was a spin off of Marble Collegiate Church on lower Fifth Ave./NYC. (Julie Nixon?? married there; the Pastor was Norman Vincent Peale “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Anyway! Lucy was on the board of directors of the AFRP and she gave $millions to the cause of mental health.
March 2002 from Findadeath.com friend EJ Fleming: It’s mentioned that the house sold for $10MM. It did not. It was listed after her death for $7.895MM, and because of problems with interior damage (reportedly caused by Lucy’s ghost; broken doors, windows, etc.), and a somewhat softer-than-usual real estate market in Beverly Hills, it sat for almost thirty-six months before selling for a little under $3.5MM. Almost nothing in the flats (the area of Beverly Hills below Sunset and above Santa Monica) would sell for $10MM. Even in a good market. Just thought you’d be interested.
Lucy’s last public appearance was on the infamous Snow White Oscars show, in which she and Bob Hope introduced the talent of tomorrow, which included Ricki Lake, Tracy Nelson, Corey Feldman and Christian Slater. I don’t care what anyone says, I think it was the best Oscars ever. Over the top, and sparkly.
At our office in Dearly Departed Tours, we have a small shrine to Lucy including a script cover, a piece of one of the shutters off of the Roxbury house, a brick from the infamous wall she hopped to grab a grapefruit, and a script cover.
If you want more dish on Lucy and her terribly untalented kids, check out Desi’s page.
10 thoughts on “Lucille Ball”
While a big fan of Lucy’s professional life, considerably less enthused about her personal traits, as outlined in my May 24th post under Desi Arnaz…
One thing I never thought about was the following verbatim quote from Lucy’s autobiography “Love Lucy” 1997:
“People with happy childhoods never overdo; they don’t strive or exert themselves. They’re moderate, pleasant, well liked, and good citizens. Society needs them. But the tremendous drive and dedication necessary to succeed in any field- not only show business- often seems to be rooted in a disturbed childhood. I wasn’t an unloved or an unwanted child, but I was moved around a lot, and then death and cruel circumstances brought many painful separations.”
Luckily I had a happy childhood so don’t know if the above is true based on personal experience, but strongly suspect it might be. Think very intuitive & introspective of Lucy for even thinking of it.
Once drove around Lucy’s Roxbury Drive house, when she was still in residence, just to see how big the lot was. Seemed to go on forever, as in way over an acre. One uniquely appropriate feature, & very unusual for the time, was that the very tall wall went around the entire back of the property! Just looked it up & its 0.79 of an acre. To give everyone an idea of how insane So Cal prices are now, property last sold 12.30.2010 for $1,810,500 & now valued at $12,640,600! I’m assuming that’s pre & post “remodeling” but still…..
If you are an I Love Lucy fan then I highly recommend the book “Laughs, Luck…and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time” by Jess Oppenheimer. He was the creator, producer and head writer of the show. Such a great book with amazing insights about the inner workings of one of, if not the best sitcoms in history.
i can’t stand lucie arnaz, so on twitter, i sent her a friendly copy of that awful revue on desi’s page. lmaooooooooooooo
Omfg that’s awesome!!! I seriously cannot stand that woman either. Of all of the talentless children of famous people, she is far and away the LEAST talented.
may you rest in peace lucile ball
Lucy was a great comedian no doubt about it. Happen to know she left a $20 million estate and did zero estate planning. The IRS took 50% right off the top.
How does someone sell Desulu for $17 million in 1967-68 ($122-$130 million today) and leave “only” $20 million with no tax planning? Great artist? Unquestioningly! Great business person? Based on her estate, not so much.
I’ve read that she made next to nothing on her last
big movie hit, “Yours, Mine, & Ours,” in 1968, as for whatever
reason, she took a big paycheck, rather than deferring income
over a period of time, and the vast majority of what she made
also went to the IRS. You figure she would have learned from that
Think missed the point a little…. Lucy was always publicized as this fantastic businesswoman running Desulu Studios. A “hard-charging” business executive power-house. From what you & I’ve outlined, hard to reconcile her professional reputation with the poor business decisions we’ve referenced – Come on, who doesn’t do ANY planning with assets? Or just lets the IRS take what they want?
Another thing thought “weird”: Read stories when Lucy held business meeting at Desilu would always be polishing/dusting/cleaning during the meetings! Were the 1950’s so incredibly sexist that it was considered unfeminine to be in business? Guessing, one hundred percent yes!
Fun story from Viv Vance bio:
First day of I LOVE LUCY at 10am table reading of script, Lucille arrived as movie star/producer diva with sunglasses and a regal flourish. At noon, an assistant placed a platter of fried chicken in front of her. She started eating and didn’t offer anybody a piece. William Frawley barked: “you gonna eat all that yourself?!” Lucy replied, “oh, I would have thought you had lunch already.” Frawley retorted: Who eats lunch at 10 in the morning!”
Lucy also paid her dear friend Mary Wickes a low day rate for all her guest shots. (From Wickes bio) Mary Wickes knew this was the case but understood it was because she refused to hire a manager and knew Lucy’s shrewd attitude was : If you don’t ask for more, why should I pay you more?” Mary let it go and happily took the work.