Lucy-Desi Museum

The radio show My Favorite Husband morphed into the TV show I Love Lucy.

Lucile Ball's monogrammed 1972 Mercedes-Benz
Lucile Ball’s monogrammed 1972 Mercedes-Benz

Lucy-Desi Museum, Jamestown, NY: July 12, 2016

A stop in Jamestown was a last-minute addition to the itinerary when we decided that we should see a state park on the return trip, rather on the way out.

We knew that Jamestown was the birthplace of actress Lucille Ball, back on August 6, 1911. There’s something about a small town that needs to embrace its stars the way that New York City or Los Angeles simply cannot. Her childhood home is in nearby Celeron, on what was 8th Street, but is now Lucy Lane. Those homes are privately owned.

But in downtown Jamestown is the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum on West Third Street, where you can find out about the early years of Lucy, from her grade school piano to costumes and gowns from her wardrobe, and some paintings and photos that once hung in her Beverly Hills home.

You also get the background about her future first husband, the Cuban-born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha, III (1917-1986), whose father was the youngest mayor of Santiago, and his mother’s father an executive at Bacardi Rum. The family fortune was seized during the Batista revolution of 1933, and the family eventually fled to Miami, FL.

I was particularly interested in learning about a radio show called My Favorite Husband, starring Ball and Richard Denning, who played the characters of Liz and George Cugat, as a happily married couple. “Beginning with the 26th episode on January 7, 1949, confusion with bandleader Xavier Cugat prompted a name change Cooper.” Apparently, coincidentally, Desi Arnaz had played guitar for Cugat.

My Favorite Husband morphed into the TV show I Love Lucy, with Desi as Ricky Ricardo, a struggling orchestra leader, and Lucy as Lucy (nee McGillicuddy), a housewife with show business fantasies but no real talent. It would be difficult to overstate the significance of this television show on the medium.
Lucy Desi set
Adjacent to the Luci-Desi Museum, and at no additional charge, is the Desilu Studios, which has costumes and prop. But most impressively, it has replicas of both the Ricardos’ New York City apartment of the first six seasons, and the Hollywood Hotel suite of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (shown), thirteen hour-long episodes which aired from 1957 to 1960.

“On March 2, Desi’s birthday, 1960, the day after the last hour-long episode was filmed, Lucille Ball filed for divorce from Desi Arnaz.” But they managed to maintain a friendship until he died of cancer. She died in 1989

Desilu Studios would produce Lucy’s subsequent programs, plus Dick Van Dyke Show, Mission: Impossible and Star Trek.

Even though she was largely unfamiliar with I Love Lucy, The Daughter was captivated with the actress and wanted an Andy Warhol-designed cup as a souvenir. We were so fond of the site that we recommended the Lucy-Desi Museum for some family members at the family reunion.

We did NOT see the Scary Lucy statue that was not too far away but agree that the new rendering is much more suitable.

Lucy TV Guide

All photos c 2016 by Lydia P. Green

V is for Virginia

Virginia was the 10th state to enter the Union.

va-districts-mapI’ve long had this odd fascination with the state of Virginia. Partly it’s because it’s part of the old Confederacy, but the northernmost part. The distance from Richmond, the Confederate capital during the US Civil War, to Washington, DC is only 110 miles. General Robert E. Lee of Virginia seemed the reluctant warrior.

Several northwest counties broke away from Virginia during the Civil War to create the state of West Virginia, which entered the Union in 1863.

Four of the first five US Presidents, all save John Adams of Massachusetts, were from Virginia, and eight altogether, which gave it the nickname “Mother of Presidents”.

Here’s some trivia information stuck inside my head. In order for the new Constitution to be accepted, nine of the 13 states had to ratify it, and it was so. But the holdouts were massively important to the vitality of the nation; finally, they came around, and that’s why I remember Virginia was the 10th state, New York, the 11th, and North Carolina, the 12th. Rhode Island made lucky 13.

In 1607, the first permanent New World English colony was established in 1607 at Jamestown. I was reminded by a question on the TV quiz show JEOPARDY! that the colonists resorted to cannibalism during the brutal winter of 1609.

I have vacationed in Virginia at least twice. Once, with my girlfriend at the time back in the early 1980s, I went to Virginia Beach. We went to see her brother, whose name, as I recall, was Roger. The other time was in 2008 when my family visited Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg.

Every time I take the train to Charlotte, NC, of course, I travel through Virginia. I think I spend more time in that state than any other during the trip.

The most frequent reference to Virginia in this blog has to be the case of Loving v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the bans by Virginia (and other states) on interracial marriages were unconstitutional.

Since 1969, the motto for the state has been “Virginia is for Lovers”.

Read about Virginia from Wikipedia and the official government site.


ABC Wednesday, Round 15

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