Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy 100th birthday, Lucille Ball!

Comedienne Lucille Ball would have been 100 today. She was born on this day in 1911 in Jamestown, New York. After working as a showgirl and model in her twenties Lucy started to get small movie roles, beginning with Roman Scandals in 1931. In 1940 she met future husband Desi Arnaz on the set of Too Many Girls; they married in November that same year. After several years of dealing with schedules that kept them apart, Lucy and Desi worked together on the radio show My Favorite Husband, which debuted in 1948. With the growing popularity of television, CBS decided to adapt My Favorite Husband for TV, which became I Love Lucy. The first episode aired October 15, 1951. Lucy played Lucy Ricardo, a housewife who longed to break into show business. Desi played her husband, Ricky Ricardo, a bandleader. Their friends and landlords, Ethel and Fred Mertz, were played by Vivian Vance and William Frawley.

I Love Lucy episodes demonstrate how great Lucille Ball was at physical comedy.Whether it be stomping on grapes in an Italian vineyard or reacting with her unique facial expressions, you never want to take your eyes off her. I think my favorite Lucy facial expression is when she opens her mouth really wide without making a sound and raises her eyebrows as if to say, "WHAT?!" In honor of Lucille's Balls 100th birthday check out seasons 1-9 of I Love Lucy on DVD and re-watch some of the best moments in TV history.

The Complete First Season
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This DVD set also includes the lost pilot. Highlights from this season include "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" for the product Vitameatavegamin, which contains vitamins, meat, vegetables, minerals... and is 23% alcohol. "Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular?" In "The Diet" Lucy almost starves herself in order to fit into a size 12, the size of the dress of the girl appearing with Ricky in his show.

The Complete Second Season
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In "Job Switching" Ricky and Fred stay home to cook and clean while Lucy and Ethel get jobs in a chocolate factory. Lucy isn't able to get Ricky alone to tell her the news she is pregnant in "Lucy is Enceinte." She comes to his show at the club and writes down a song request; when Ricky walks to each table asking if they are the happy couple, he is surprised to find it's Lucy.

The Complete Third Season
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In "Equal Rights" Lucy and Ethel wind up washing dishes at the restaurant where they just ate dinner after Ricky and Fred split the bill into four checks.

The Complete Fourth Season
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During this season Ricky, Lucy, Fred, and Ethel visit L.A. and meet such celebrities as William Holden and Eve Arden ("L.A., At Last"), Cornel Wilde ("The Star Upstairs"), and Harpo Marx ("Harpo Marx").

The Complete Fifth Season
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At the start of this season the gang is still in L.A. I always liked the episode "Lucy Visits Grauman's" where Lucy and Ethel steal the slab of cement of John Wayne's footprints. Later in the season the group leaves for Europe, visiting London, Scotland, Paris, the Swiss Alps, and Italy, which features the classic episode  "Lucy's Italian Movie."

The Complete Sixth Season
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In "Lucy and Superman" Lucy asks Ricky to invite Superman (George Reeves), who is in town to sign autographs, to Little Ricky's birthday party. When Ricky tells Lucy that Superman cannot make it, Lucy dresses as Superman and goes out on the ledge outside their apartment in preparation to surprise Little Ricky and his guests. And when Superman changes his plans and does show up to the party, Lucy can't join in on the fun as she gets locked out on the ledge in the rain.

The Final Seasons 7, 8 & 9
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These seasons were called The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, or The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.