2 museums pay tribute to ‘Lucy’ and comedy

Now is the perfect time to learn more about the multitalented actress, comedian, model, studio manager and producer who took the television industry by storm and was ahead of her time in so many ways. .

Meet Journey

Before the pandemic, I had the pleasure of visiting both museums in Jamestown. Last week I had a phone conversation with Journey Gunderson, who is the executive director of the two.

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An activity at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, the hometown of Lucille Ball allows visitors to take a role in a Lucille-themed comedy scene. CONTRIBUTED

An activity at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, the hometown of Lucille Ball allows visitors to take a role in a Lucille-themed comedy scene.  CONTRIBUTED
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An activity at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, the hometown of Lucille Ball allows visitors to take a role in a Lucille-themed comedy scene. CONTRIBUTED

When I asked where she got her unusual first name from, she told me there was a Dayton connection. “My mom was a graduate of the University of Dayton and there was someone on the basketball team named Journey. She remembered this name and loved it!

Gunderson says Lucille Ball was a blend of innate talent and an extreme work ethic when it came to making people laugh. Interestingly enough, Ball went to drama school in New York City and was kicked out after a few weeks and sent back to Jamestown with a letter to her family that said, “Save your money. This girl has no talent.

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Gunderson notes that people of all ages react to Ball’s big face and ability as a physical comedian. “Children identify with his comedy more than anyone imagined,” she says. “. (Both segments are available on YouTube).

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The chocolate treadmill scene is one of the most recognized scenes in “I Love Lucy”. PHOTO / CBS

The chocolate treadmill scene is one of the most recognized scenes in "I love Lucy. '' PHOTO / CBS
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The chocolate treadmill scene is one of the most recognized scenes in “I Love Lucy”. PHOTO / CBS

Lucille Ball, she adds, was a student in the craft and studied comics like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. “She was never arrogant enough to believe she was good and she has never been around.”

Gunderson believes the new movie will resonate in 2021 because of the way Ball has taken on the establishment. “It was a woman in the 1950s telling CBS executives that a Cuban man would play her husband on television. It’s a story of tenacity, bravery and achievement that resonates with today’s youth who focus on issues of social justice.

About museums

The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum takes a more traditional and nostalgic approach to the story of Lucy / Desi. Visitors can have their picture taken in the most famous living room of all time, the New York apartment of Ricardos. Their kitchen set and Hollywood hotel suite are also replicas.

Here you will learn more about the creation of “I Love Lucy” and Desilu as a production company. Original props, costumes, scripts and Emmys are on display. You will also hear about the significant influence Desilu Studios has had on the entertainment industry for generations to come.

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This polka dot dress worn by Lucille Ball in “I Love Lucy” is on display at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, Ball’s hometown.

This polka dot dress worn by Lucille Ball on "I Love Lucy '' is on display at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, Ball's hometown.  CONTRIBUTED
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This polka dot dress worn by Lucille Ball in “I Love Lucy” is on display at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, Ball’s hometown.

Nearby, the National Comedy Center is pretty amazing. It offers more than 50 interactive exhibits and immersive experiences that present the history of comedy from its origins to the present day. Upon arrival, you’ll answer a few questions that will personalize your tour to suit your comic book preferences. Some of the people with local connections you’ll meet along the way include Jonathan Winters, Dave Chappelle, Mike Peters, and Nancy Cartwright. And did you know that George Carlin met his wife in Dayton and got married here at his parents’ house?

Using green screen technology, visitors can enter famous scenes from “I Love Lucy” including the chocolate conveyor belt scene and the grape crushing vat. Lucy’s famous polka-dot dress is on display.

Every year in August, on Lucy’s birthday, the museum sponsors an annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival which features the biggest names in contemporary comedy as well as a nostalgic line-up around “I Love Lucy”.

“Lucy fans come and when they do, they discover new artists like Jim Gaffigan and John Mulaney,” Gunderson notes. “And those who come to see the new comics find out about Lucy.”

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New York Apartment Package for “I Love Lucy” at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, Jamestown, New York.

Credit: Lena McBean

Apartment in New York for "I love Lucy '' at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, Jamestown, New York.  CONTRIBUTED
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New York Apartment Package for “I Love Lucy” at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, Jamestown, New York.

Credit: Lena McBean

Credit: Lena McBean

The people at the museum were obviously proud to help the production team on Aaron Sorkin’s new film. “The archive team provided reference photos of the artifacts and settings – even a portrait of Lucy that we have that was recreated for Desilu’s offices in the film,” says Gunderson, adding that the team at production worked hard to make the set design as authentic as possible.

“I love that now millions more people have been introduced to the incredible duo that have taken the comedy and entertainment industry by storm and created arguably the most successful sit-com of all. time.”


Interesting facts about Lucy

  • “I Love Lucy,” according to Variety, eventually reached 29 million viewers in its first season and was the most-viewed show on television for four of its six seasons. It culminated with the episode in which Lucy gives birth to Little Ricky – 44 million Americans watched this show which received an all-time high of 71.7 with a share of 92, which means 71% of all households with televisions were plugged in to view the program and 92% of households were watching television at that time. The next day, only 29 million people watched Dwight D’s inauguration, Eisenhower. This record was not surpassed until the first of Elvis Presley’s three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.
  • Karl Freund, director of photography at Desilu, was the first to develop the three-camera system still used to shoot TV sitcoms. Ball and Arnaz were determined to shoot their show live on film so that it could later be edited and cut.
  • Among the shows produced by Desilu Studios were “The Lucy Show”, “The Untouchables”, “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek”.
  • October 15 was the 70th anniversary of the debut of “I Love Lucy” on CBS. In honor of the anniversary, fans can submit photos to help create a fan mosaic for Lucy’s birthday, which will be on display in the museum and become a permanent part of the museum’s archives. Visit LucyMosaic.com.
  • In Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, in addition to the two museums, there are murals of Lucy, statues at Lucy Park near Celeron, her final resting place, and more.
  • A 10-episode series on Lucille Ball is part of TCM’s podcast, “The Plot Thickens,” released in October with bonus episodes still in the works. https://theplotthicens.tcm.com/
  • Amy Poehler has directed a documentary titled “Lucy and Desi” for Imagine Entertainment and Amazon by Ron Howard, which will debut at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.
  • Paramount + will broadcast “I Love Lucy” in 2022.
  • For more information on Jamestown Museums: Websites: www.comedycenter.org; www.comedycenter.org/anywhere; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nationalcomedycenter/

Source: Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and National Comedy Center.

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