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Sunday, May 27, 2007

DAY 1 – Vivian Vance Boat Cruse (a.k.a. Cruising with “Steamboat Bessie’s” Sister!)

For some reason, I can’t remember one Lucy-Desi Days where rain hasn’t been on the agenda somewhere – please correct me if I’m wrong – so I was hoping that this year’s boat cruise wasn’t a wash-out. My first cruise on Lake Chautauqua was last August with Frank Gorey and Elisabeth Edwards. I was below deck, so the weather wasn’t really an issue for those of us in steerage (just kidding! It’s a great place!) but I was determined to be upstairs this year. Thankfully we got dealt a good hand in the weather stakes and the mostly grey skies of the morning broke way for sun in the afternoon just in time!

It was fantastic to be in the presence of Viv’s sister Lou Ann Graham. Listening to someone who was so close to Viv on a personal level – not based on any previous professional relationship – was so fascinating. Lou Ann shared her memories with us of growing up with her big sister Viv, and how their relationship evolved yet stayed the same as Viv blossomed into a star just as Lou Ann was growing up, starting her own family, and forging her own way professionally.

Lou Ann shared with us memories related to many of the mementos (How many more Ms can I fit into this sentence? Three.) she donated to the auction to be held the following day. These included postcards written by Viv from all over the U.S. to their mother back home in Albuquerque (“I should have known you were from Albuquerque, you’re so warm and friendly!”). She also showed various pieces of Viv’s clothing that were given to her from her big sister like a gold beaded belt, a multi-coloured Don Loper ($500 original?) “scarf blouse”, and a groovy dragon fly brooch…but Lou Ann never mentioned if Viv pinned this brooch to her…well, if she pinned it.

(Lou Ann displaying a post card sent by Viv to her mother in November 1956)

Lou Ann’s time was divided in half between decks. Those of us upstairs got her first, and after she moved downstairs, it gave us time to just watch beautiful lake Chautauqua pass by. Before and after the show, limited edition autographed posters for the event were sold, as were specially made prints of a candid photo of Viv from Lou Ann. Also available was a really cool spiral-bound scrap book of candid photos of the Jones family, including all of Viv and Lou Ann’s sisters and their brother, clippings from Viv’s career, and copies of the post cards that she showed us during the cruise. This book – dubbed by Lou Ann herself as an “OfficeMax Production” – is priceless!

(The "OfficeMax Production")

(Viv also sent her mother this postcard depicting Lucy and Desi's Palm Springs home)

The word "priceless" can also be used to describe Lou Ann. Her memories of Viv are incomparable. She is warm and friendly. Not only does Lou Ann look and sound very similar to her sister, she is also an actress in her own right, and hilarious to boot! She was entertaining us all even before the "show" had begun. In this vein, she remined me quite a bit of Marilyn Borden.

After the boat cruise, many of us headed from the dock at the Lucille Ball Memorial Park to the Fan Reunion which was being held a few blocks away.

DAY 1 – Arrival and Proclamation

After facing near-zero amounts of traffic, including an almost unheard of drought of passengers trying to cross the border into the United States, my mother and I arrived in Jamestown just in time for the proclamation.

We scored a great parking spot near the stage door to the Reg Lenna Civic Centre and made our way to Tracy Plaza for the festivities. I could hear the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony striking up. Rounding the corner from Pine Street onto Third Street, I could see Charlie off in the distance. After meeting up with Charlie and Shelly (who it turns out was just a few steps away from Charlie at the information kiosk), we arrived onto Tracy Plaza to – as observed by Charlie – the “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” theme song. Meg and her parents had already staked out a prime position on the plaza so we met up with them and I just observed people arriving.

His Groovy-ness Dann Cahn (pictured above, naturally!) was flying solo and arrived on the plaza shortly after we did. Diane Vincent and Rhonda Medina -- as “Lucy” and “Ethel” respectively – soon followed him, as did Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi from the opposite direction.

(Rhonda Medina and Diane Vincent as "Ethel" and "Lucy")

Then Jimmy Sheridan (the real one, not impostor dubbed by John Schillner as “Jimmy Sheridan Junior”) and his parents arrived and our party was complete!

Ric Wyman arrived a little while later and then – and I missed the exact reason why – Mayor Teresi took cover, hiding behind Charlie. Literally. We have proof.

After the Mayor was coaxed out from behind Charlie, the proclamation proceeded with the Mayor giving a brief speech, and this was followed by a speech by Wyman and a rundown of the weekend’s events.

(The Mayor and Ric)

After this, we briefly went out separate ways. Shelly and Charlie went off, as did Meg and her parents, and we went to the box office to get our tickets and walk over to the collector’s show to case the joint. Jimmy came with us as he was heading in that direction to go to the Liberace lunch in the Tropicana Room.

I decided to sit that one out to unwind a bit after a long drive. But we couldn’t unwind for too long, we had a boat to catch! Celoron doesn’t have a pilot boat to catch up with the Summer Wind.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Just a few hours...

It's just a few hours until the kick-off of Lucy-Desi Days 2005. Watch this space for recaps!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

August 2006 -- Photos -- Lane Loves Lucy (and Desi too!)

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August 2006 -- Photos -- Bob Schiller Seminar & Authors' Roundtable

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August 2006 -- Photos -- An evening with Carole, Tom, and Robert

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August 2006 -- Photos -- Trivia Contest

August 2006 -- Photos -- The Auction

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August 2006 -- Photos -- Third Street on a Saturday Morning

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August 2006 -- Photos -- Fan Reunion!

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August 2006 -- Photos -- Cruising with Frank and Elisabeth

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Friday, August 11, 2006

August 2006 – Day 3 – Finale: Lane Loves Lucy! (A.K.A. Lucy Fans Love Lane)

This wonderful weekend drew to a spectacular close with a tribute to the man who has been the backbone of Hollywood for almost eight decades – Charles Lane. Unlike the author’s breakfast, and the Bob Schiller legends event, this event didn’t begin with a conventional screening of one ILL episode, but with opening remarks by filmmakers Garret Boyajian and George Ridjaneck. Garret seemed to do most of the talking while George seemed to be doing more backstage stuff at first. Garret introduced his and George’s documentary presentation for Lucy fans entitled “Lane Loves Lucy.”

From the very beginning of the documentary, I would tell that this doc was going to be something just a little “outside the box” (in a very good way) and that us audience members were in for a real treat! The opening was the traditional ILL “heart-on-satin” opening, which was colourized, and a few frames into opening, the music stopped and the “I” was scratched out and written over with “Lane”. Great start! What came after this clever opening was something truly special – a short visit with a living legend.

Our host, Ole’ Charlie Lane himself, now a sprightly 101, is still as wonderful as ever. He still looks almost exactly the same as he has since 1949, having suffered from Elizabeth Patterson Syndrome where one visually reaches the age of 75 at 40, staying fixed there for their wonderful career. He still has that distinctive, slightly nasal way of speaking, but, with age of course, his voice is slightly more deliberate than when he was enduring Miss Grant before she took Richmond or economically procreating an all-girls softball team. I am also pleased to report that, like Bob Schiller, his sense of humour has not taken a vacation! Charlie talked about first becoming friends with Lucy at R.K.O. when they were bit players together. He talked about many of his subsequent movies (including Look Who’s Laughing and Miss Grant Takes Richmond) and, of course, his many appearances on I Love Lucy and The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour.

Charlie says that of all his hundreds of appearances in movies and television, he gets the most recognition from his appearances with a certain redhead whose name escapes me at the moment… I was also pleasantly surprised that due space was given to Charlie’s recurring role as Mr. Barnsdahl on The Lucy Show. He was fantastic in his too-few appearances with Lucy Carmichael and Viv Bagley but, in my experience anyway, these appearances are rarely mentioned. If many people in the audience had been limited to the lousy public domain episodes of TLS on the market today, I hope the brilliant clips of Lucy and Barnsdahl included in this documentary sold new fans on TLS. The hilarious clip of Lucy ravishing Charlie in “Viv Sues Lucy” got a huge laugh out of the audience.

Also included in the documentary were clips from Charlie’s 100th Birthday Party (including a Lucy Show reunion with Candy Moore and Jimmy Garrett, and a reunion with Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts League member Peggy Rea!!!!)! I am so glad that Garret and George were on hand to film this historic occasion. Also included was a special visit to Charlie by Lucy-Desi Museum board members including Ric, Wanda, and Mary Rapaport. So many brilliant people came to this event that to have it lost to the ages would be tragic…along with Desilu’s unspeakable destruction of the ILL outtakes. At the end of the short documentary, Charlie made mention of the fact he was unable to come in person to Jamestown (“I’m too old!”) but just having him take part in a documentary for Lucy fans at his impressive age was more than I ever would have expected!

But the tribute to Charlie didn’t end with “Lane Loves Lucy”, we were also given a sneak peek to the full-length documentary on Charlie that Garret and George are working on. After seeing this tribute, I can’t wait to see the finished product. Ah, who am I kidding, I’ve been dying to see this ever since I first heard about its conception…seeing the preview has just turned me into Pavlov’s Dog! I need more!!! The documentary “You Know The Face” looks amazing! It starts off with Charlie catching up with old friends at a local restaurant, just shooting the breeze and making very funny remarks. Charlie’s still got it! The preview also showed many rare photos of Charlie and his wife Ruth presented very groovily (yes, groovily) in the form of a newspaper “The Centenarian Times.” Interviews with many of Charlie’s friends and co-stars are also incorporated into the documentary including Phyllis Diller, Jamie Farr, William Schallert, Sally Field, Frank Cady (!), and Linda Kaye Henning. Great stuff!

That’s not all, folks!

After the two screenings, it was time for “Lane Loves Lucy” trivia! This part was a video trivia contest where questions were screened on the…well, screen…with specially made graphics. The questions were multiple choice and the players were selected from raffle tickets received by each audience member at the door. An example question:

What is the character name of the person in “Lucy Tells The Truth” who auditions for the casting director before Lucy?

a) Minnie Finch
b) Mercedes Minch
c) Kathryn Card

If you answered “a” or “c” you would have heard a buzzer saying you were wrong, but if your answer was “b”, your answer would have been “dinged” and would be followed by a video clip with the answer. Thankfully Mercedes was the first “fowl” singer WE had heard that day…too bad the same couldn’t have been said by Charlie’s character. Each winner won a Lucy “bunco” game!

After spending the afternoon with the one and only Charlie Lane, only made possible by Garret and George, Lucy’s Birthday Celebration 2006 drew to a close. We were able to catch up with old friends, make new friends, empty our wallets, honour the first couple of comedy, and spend time with legendary performers and creative minds. A big ‘thank you’ for everyone who made this weekend possible!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August 2006 – Day 3 – The Authors’ Breakfast

After leaving the Bob Schiller event and having a great long chat outside the Rapaport Center afterward with Sabrina Scharf and Tom Schiller’s wife (and getting a chance to take a Schiller family portrait! So exciting!) I was running a bit late for the Author’s Breakfast! After all this breakfasting I’ll be able to ROLL back to Toronto… But just as I started walking towards the theatre, a big birthday parade led by “Lucy” and “Ethel” came marching down 3rd Street towards the Desilu Playhouse. These Friends of the Formerly Friendless – complete with noisemakers and party hats – told me that they’ve moved the roundtable breakfast to the Tropicana Room. Not a good sign with the limited seating and there were a lot of Formerly Friendless Friends in the parade…

So, I just went with the flow and asked if they had any tickets available in the playhouse gift shop. They didn’t, so I had to hurry to the box office to pick up a ticket and hurry back before everything got started. After passing the Schillers who were strolling past the theatre (in the opposite direction for whatever reason), I made it back there in plenty of time.

The breakfast was very much the same as at the Bob Schiller event except this time there were “omelette burritos” (…?!) along with the rest of the stuff. Still full from the last meal, I decided to have one more round with the bagels after my unfortunate bagel dumping incident a couple of hours before. I won this round! Then the roundtable started with a screening of Lucy Writes A Novel, followed by the discussion itself.

Now, as much as I hate to say this, this year’s Authors’ Roundtable was very disappointing with no fault lying with the wonderful and interesting guests. I think it was a formatting problem. Many of us who has read Kathleen Brady’s “Lucille” agree that it is the closest thing we have to a definitive biography of Lucy; Audrey Kupferberg and Rob Edelman two of the four foremost authorities on Vivian Vance, and foremost authority of Bill; that Elisabeth is the epitome of creativity and knows different sides to Lucy and Desi that other authors couldn’t hope to have; and that Michael Karol is a treasure hunter extraordinaire.

To me, though, a lot of the discussions led by Kathleen seemed to be a bit superficial instead of getting into the “meat” of their books. While Kathleen is undoubtedly a wonderful interviewer to gather so much primary material for her book, I think the problem must be that all five of the authors are so familiar with the other books – and each other – a lot of questions are left unanswered from the audience.

If I remember correctly, Lucy festivals in the past were hosted by others, not one author who is part of the roundtable discussion itself. I believe – and correct me if I’m wrong – one year was hosted and moderated by a local radio host, and one was moderated by Tom Watson. The other formats left the host more detached from the group and from that position they were able to go more in-depth. It seemed as though the authors assumed everyone in the audience had read the books (and it’s safe to say that they were right!!), but it hindered discussion a little bit.

But, from what the authors did share, it was a very interesting seminar. Kathleen’s story of the first time she met Lucy herself was great, and her reaction to meeting her was probably how every one of us would react to being in her presence. I also enjoyed hearing about how Michael Karol approached searching for all the tidbits of information he put into his book and how his mother’s illness made him feel a personal connection with Lucy. It was a very touching story, and one I don’t even want to attempt to butcher here. It would lose so much in the translation. LOL

At one point I asked the authors that when they completed each of their respective books (or groups of books) what lingering questions they had or what loose ends would they have liked to tie up, but couldn’t. This got some interesting responses from the authors. Audrey would have liked to know what it was like to see Bill onstage with the brief Mrs. Frawley. Elisabeth mentioned that there are so many stories and anecdotes swirling around about Lucy and Desi that she would like to know finally which are true and which are not, because it’s difficult picking which ones to put in her book. The people alive today that knew Lucy and Desi are often unsure themselves.

After the discussion, I thought of so many other questions I would have liked to ask each author, especially Elisabeth. She had access to all of Lucy and Desi’s scrapbooks while making her own condensed version of a scrapbook. I’m dying to specifically how she selected each item to be reproduced in that book, what criteria she used to choose, if there were items she wanted to include but were impractical to be put in, etc.

But whatever disappointments I had over the roundtable discussion were quickly overshadowed by the SPECTACULAR finale – Lane Loves Lucy!

August 2006 – Day 3 – “Love That Bob!”

Sunday was yet another early morning, but it was all for a good cause – to see the legendary Bob Schiller in person! Bob, of course, is a writing god and he and Bob Weiskopf were responsible not just for putting words into the mouths of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, Ethel and Fred Mertz, Lucy Carmichael and Vivian Bagley, and Theodore J. Mooney, but they also wrote and produced other groundbreaking series’ like the Carol Burnett Show, All In The Family, and Maude.

For a whopping $100 ticket, participants were able to have a professional photo taken with Bob on the replica of the Ricardos’ Beverly Palms Hotel set in the Desilu Playhouse, a breakfast, an I Love Lucy screening and a question and answer session with Bob himself. I couldn’t guess at how many people attended this event, but it seemed to be just a little less than the Shirley Mitchell legend event last May. When we lined up to get our pictures taken Ric asked us not to extend out hand for Bob to shake because his arthritis, which was flaring the night before, was still going strong. Poor Bob! (He later put this down to all those hours he spent slaving away over a typewriter before computers became available). Bob was so cheery and gracious when I went to have my picture taken with him despite his flare which, I know first hand, can sometimes put one into a bad mood.

My picture took about a minute to take and after that I grabbed a mini bagel, small Danish, a juice, and some fruit to take upstairs to the Tropicana room. The bagel was in my hands for two minutes before I promptly dumped it on the floor. Oh well… it landed cream cheese side up so no harm done. All the tables in the Tropicana were set up in groups of flour and Neil and I scored a table in the front row just off to what would become Bob’s right. Just a few minutes after we were all seated, we were treated to a screening of “Lucy’s Italian Movie” which, it turns out was specially selected for us by Bob himself. Right after the screening, Bob was introduced to loud applause. As he entered from stage right he turned to the audience and deadpanned, “Don’t get up!”

Listening to this legend in person was an amazing experience. He told us about his experiences at Desilu and how Jess Oppenheimer brought him and Bob onto ILL’s writing staff. He spoke about some of his favourite episodes, favourite guest stars (John Wayne was a standout), least favourite guest star (Tallulah Bankhead: “She was always drunk…. Never said a line the same way twice…”. He didn’t mention anything about her alleged Desilu striptease though…LOL!). He also talked about how any good writer has to be able to write for any project thrown at them so it wasn’t too difficult two write for two completely contrasting characters like Lucy Ricardo and Archie Bunker.

Bob also talked a bit on how he was able to incorporate his own family experiences into the shows. For example his wife, Sabrina Scharf, told me after the show that when she made a run for the California State Senate, her experiences were incorporated into Maude. His son, Saturday Night Live’s Tom Schiller, was also in the audience and he told how he tried to get writing credit on ILL when he was just a child. Apparently he wrote a joke for Fred where the cast would be sitting around eating fish. Inspired by Laurel and Hardy, Tom wanted Fred to say, “Thin and Fattie are eating Fin and Hattie.” When Bob asked how he could possibly give him writing credits on the show, he suggested that after Fred said the joke, he could unfold his napkin in the air and when as it flutters down onto his lap, it could read, “This joke supplied by Tom Schiller.” Tom also gave the option of having this written on Fred’s tie. I’ll apologise right now for butchering Tom’s story. He also talked about how he was on the set for Lucy’s Italian Movie and was shocked when he stuck his hand into the vat and found that they were real grapes! Lucky kid…

Bob also told his great story on how Desi bought him a jaguar. Desi got himself into a jam when he was trying to sell the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse to the network. To close the deal, Desi promised that Lucy would appear in every episode, something he knew was impossible. Desi asked Bob how he could get out of the jam; so after thinking it over he suggested Lucy appear at the beginning of each episode appearing on the phone telling what was going to air that week. At the end of the show, she could appear again saying what would be on next week. This solved the problem neatly so Desi offered him a reward, “What do you want? Money? Cars? Women?” so Bob says he took the car and picked out the most expensive Jaguar on the market. After he got the car, it gave him nothing but problems so he had to spend all his money having it in and out of the garage.

Bob showed throughout his seminar – just as Madelyn demonstrated in her recent book -- that his sense of humour is still as sharp as ever. What I wouldn’t give to have one-tenth the brilliance of these wonderful people. Some of his comments were just flat out hilarious: “Some people come up to me in the street saying, ‘I just watched your Lucy show this morning,’ and I’ll say, ‘Good! Give me a dime!” And that he once got a stack of 60 cheques from Paramount in the mail for his “residuals” and each cheque was made out to $0.00, “And what really gets me is that the envelope was postage due!” When Tom was said at the end of his story how proud he was to be there with his Dad today, Bob turned to Ric and said, “I wrote that speech for him myself.”

Some of Bob’s humour on show on Sunday morning wasn’t just funny, but one comment of his really put all his achievements in profound perspective. He and his wife were talking back and forth about some of his work in the seventies and he said, “This week on Maude, we’re doing a two-part episode on abortion. On the Mary Tyler Moore Show they’re doing a three-parter on mayonnaise.” Bob was and still is a pioneer and it was thrilling and an absolute privilege to be able to spend and hour and a half of my Sunday morning in his presence.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August 2006 – Day 2 -- The Osborne-Cook-Troupe Private Party

After the I Remember Lucy event, I had a chance to actually meet Bob Schiller on the way to the private party. After seeing Bob eating breakfast at the Best Western and not wanting to bother him, I was worried that I might not actually be able to meet him outside of the brief picture taking on Sunday morning. Thankfully I saw him just before a crowd started to gather around him. Well, actually I spotted his son, SNL alum Tom Schiller first coming out of the Reg Lenna Civic Centre, and Bob coming out just ahead of him but obscured by a couple of people in front of him. He signed a photo for me but he then had to stop signing autographs because the arthritis in his hands was really acting up.

As usual, the private party after the main headliner event was a personal favourite, but this event seemed much more relaxed and informal than usual. Maybe this was due to the very special company who were having a GREAT time not just interacting with fans, but having fun amongst themselves. Usually, for me anyway, it is a bit nerve-wracking waiting in line trying to come up with something to say to them that will be nice, something that doesn't make you sound like you are so excited to meet them that you need to book the next ticket to the local nut house, something that won't make you humiliate yourself too much, etc., but that wasn't happening this time. Going up to (l to r) Robert, Carole, and Tom seemed like you were just going up to chat to old friends.

I met up with Amanda from the Lounge in the elevator line in the giftshop, then we travelled in a mini-pack when Libby from the L-D Center opened up the outside stairs to the Tropicana Room to cut down on the line. This was really convenient because the entrance to the room from that direction was right at the end of the line so we didn't have to wait too long to talk to the special company.

When we were in line for about three minutes, somebody (I think…) made off with Robert Osborne's pen and he was asking people if they had a marker to borrow. Since I bought a whole package of them the day before having left my trusty sharpies at home, I excused myself past a couple of people to lend him my marker. He was very gracious and appreciative for the marker and made perfectly sure that it was okay if he used it before he put it to work. Of course it was! Imagine me being able to tell everyone back on the Lounge that I gave my marker to ROBERT OSBORNE! And, Petula Clark stole my red sharpie in Toronto two years ago, so why not! :-D I should start up a charity for celebrities in need of markers…"Autograph Seeker Appeasers Aid"?

After being in line for 10 minutes or so – with Amanda and I discussing Carole's The Incredible Mr. Limpet with Don Knotts, accents, and her swooning over one Mr. Osborne – we finally made it to the front of the line. First up was Robert and I told him how much I appreciated him coming and sharing his stories, and we also talked about the relatively recent launch of Turner Classic Movies Canada and how they sometimes have to blackout movies in Canada for copyright reasons. He then signed my photo of he and Lucy taken in the late 1950s which can be found in the "Desilu" book. Jimmy Sheridan Junior Senior was nice enough to scan this for me because I couldn't find my copy. Amanda then took our picture, she then chatted with Robert and I took their picture.

I then was able to talk to Carole and Tom. Like Robert, they are both SO nice and had so many great stories to tell. Carole and I talked a bit more about Gale because she had a few things to add after answering my question at the event before, a bit about Shirley Mitchell (I said that in May, Shirley said Carole was a "real kick in the head" and that I thought Shirley grossly underestimated her! LOL … Carole agreed! HAHA!), and about Mr. Limpet. I brought with me an original publicity photo from Limpet which I bought from eBay a few weeks before. Tom was struck by how good the photo was and Carole said that she never received this photo from the movie. I'm going to scan it and send it to her. She and Tom signed the photo for me and Tom and I had a great chat about the theatre he has done in Canada. He told me that he once did a play at the Lea Posluns theatre in Thornhill, Ontario which is about 25 minutes south of my house. I can't believe he was playing so close and I didn't know it. Tom was sure that the Posluns theatre had been shut down, but was pleased when I told him that it was still running and I saw a production of Romeo and Juliet there in high school. I wish I had more time to talk with Tom. He's an interesting guy! Amanda then took my picture with the Troupes, and I took hers, then it was time to mingle with everyone else.

Monday, August 07, 2006

August 2006 – Day 2 – I Remember Lucy: An Evening with Carole Cook, Robert Osborne, and Tom Troupe (Or: Ma Parker averted!)

The main event started just after 8 pm in the Reg Lenna Civic Centre with a screening of Carole’s stellar performance on a January episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I think it is safe to say that the audience was completely blown away by her wonderful portrayal of Sophie. When this finished, there was a 10-15 minute retrospective of Carole’s career including many highlights with Lucy. Clips included scenes from the Desilu Revue (one scene with Lucy and the ‘beatnik’ musical number), Lucy’s Barbershop Quartet, Lucy Puts out a Fire At The Bank, Lucy Carter Meets Lucille Ball, and a great clip of Carole, Max Showalter, and Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles. It was a fantastic tribute and one which completely avoided Lucy and Ma Parker! If Ma was featured and I just mentally tuned it out, please let me know.

After the tribute, Carole then came onstage to thunderous applause. Before Tom and Robert joined her onstage, Carole entertained the audience with a 20 minute or so monologue on her life in Texas as Mildred Cook, her “horrible” grandmother (“Mildred, pregnant women won’t look at you!”), and her weight. She said that she once read a movie magazine article on Rosalind Russell which said she weighed 129 pounds. “Great!,” Carole said she thought, “I’m just like Rosalind Russell! It didn’t enter my mind that I was only seven years old and 4’2.” During the monologue, Carole noticed a young girl in the audience just before she was going to tell a bawdy anecdote. After that, Taylor became Carole’s verbal prop for the rest of the evening. It was great!

Just before Tom came up onto the stage, Carole began talking about her their wedding. She said that she wanted to look as virginal as possible (before calling herself a tramp. HA!) by wearing yards of white fabric and powdering her face as much as possible. LOL

When Tom and Robert came on stage, Tom paid tribute to Robert saying that if it wasn’t for him, he and Carole would never have met. All three of them on stage was brilliant and everyone could have listened to them just talk for hours on end. In fact, their conversation went half an hour longer (or maybe 20 minutes) longer than all other “I Remember Lucy” evenings because everyone was having such a great time. Carole and Tom shared pictures of their wedding and talked about how Lucy, as matron of honour, almost stole the show.

Robert talked about how he first met Lucy when he was on the Desilu lot one day. He said a man at Desilu told him that Lucy was putting together a Desilu Workshop inspired by Lela Rogers’ work at RKO (Which, Robert says, was just a scheme by RKO to get Lela off Ginger’s movie sets). He asked how he would go about auditioning for the workshop so the man called Lucy up in her office and she told him to send Robert up for an audition. They chatted for a while, and Lucy wanted to see any film Robert had of himself, so he told her that he just helped another actress do a screen test at another studio. Lucy then called up the studio and had the test delivered within half an hour. Robert says Lucy seemed disappointed with the rest, but when he was invited over to Lucy’s house a little while later with a bunch of other people, she asked him if he had signed the contract she had sent to him the day before. That, Robert said, was the first time he had ever heard of it.

Robert said his university degree in Journalism really impressed Lucy because she, a high school dropout, thought anyone who had a university degree was automatically smart. This, Robert said, was untrue because Lucy was smarter than the rest of them. She was street smart.

Carole then went more in depth about her first meeting with Lucy. Robert said another actress was hired to be the resident comedienne in the Desilu workshop but that she bombed out and a replacement was needed right away. So, Carole’s name was then put forward. She was in between doing two stage shows, so Lucy and other members of the workshop went out for dinner with Carole as a sort of audition. When Lucy met Carole, she says Lucy said, “Okay, be funny!” Under pressure, Carole says she sort of clammed up and couldn’t be funny, but once she thought she didn’t get the job and as the pressure left while they ate dinner, Carole relaxed and was funny, and the rest is history. Robert said, “Carole became Carole.”

Carole then said that she noticed that Lucy kept writing the name “Carole” over and over and Carole thought that was a bit odd. When she asked what Lucy was doing, Carole says, “Lucy said, I know you love your name (I didn’t!), but you remind me so much of Carole Lombard. She had the same healthy disrespect of everything in the world that you do!” So Lucy asked her to change her name to honour Carole (and explained the Lucky “AR” letter combination). Carole said that at that point Lucy could have suggested she change her name to “Rin-Tin-Tin” and she would have readily agreed. Thus, Carole Cook was born!

Robert also told how Lucy encouraged him to become a writer instead of an actor as she thought there were so many actors and too few GOOD writers. Robert says that she was definitely right and that her advice led him to Turner Classic Movies. But this wasn’t the only advice Lucy gave him. He says he always marvelled at the way Lucy was able to handle so many things in her life – being wife, mother, actress, studio executive, etc. – that he asked her how she handled it all. She told him to think of your day as a chest of drawers and work your way from top to bottom. He used the top drawer as an example saying that Lucy’s top drawer of the day would be to get up, bathe, dress, and do makeup. When that would be done, close that drawer. Open up the next one which might be “go to the studio” and do it. Close that drawer. Move onto the next. Robert says this was very helpful and is something that he now does every day.

Tom also shared a few stories from his movie days and his current theatre life. One story that was a great crowd pleaser was in one of his earliest Hollywood films, “The Big Fisherman” with Howard Keel. Tom played one of the apostles and when the principle actors were on the set a limo would come and take them to the actual location. When they all piled into the limo (“Jesus” riding shotgun and the apostles in the back) they passed a gaggle of old bit players who begged for a ride, but “Jesus” passed them by. LOL

It was great to see Tom and Carole interacting. They seem like such a close, loving couple. They’ve been married for over 40 years, and Carole says they’re very happy: “I’ve never once thought of divorce. Murder PLENTY, but never divorce.”

Another favourite story that Carole told was when she, Tom, and Robert were over at the Roxbury house, they got a call from Ethel Merman who had just married to Ernest Borgine (Carole: “I tell ya, I wanted the first of THAT litter!” ROTF!). So Lucy and the gang trooped up the street to where Ernest was living at the time. Ernest took Lucy to go show her something to the rest of them were sitting around with the Merm and she was telling them how lucky she was because Ernest was the most wonderful man in the world. She also excitedly told them about their upcoming honeymoon cruise to Japan and that if they ran out of money, Ethel was bringing her music so she could sing her way back if she had to. Two weeks after this night they announced their divorce. LOL

It was then audience Question and Answer time. Robert was asked how movies are selected on Turner Classic Movies, etc., and Carole was asked (by me) what it was like to work with Gale Gordon (naturally! ;-) ), and how Desi and Gary compared as husbands, among other questions. Carole had some very interesting things to say about Gary and he seemed close to tears when she told how she felt Gary pushed many of Lucy’s friends including Carole out of her life. Very, very sad.

The show then ended right after the question and answer session and I wish it could have just gone on for hours. Everyone was having a blast listening to these stories, and I think Carole, Tom, and Robert were having just as much fun talking as we were listening. I really hope they are brought back for another festival soon for part two. Judging from the enthusiasm expressed by all three of them not just at the seminar but in the couple of times I talked to them throughout the weekend, I don’t think the idea will be tough to sell.

Onto the Private Party…

Sunday, August 06, 2006

August 2006 -- Day Two -- Lucy Fans Are Fabulous!

The Trivia Contest:

Today’s big winner was the Lounge’s own Leanne. She won both the pizza tossing contest and was the grand prize winner at the Trivia Contest.

This year, the trivia contest had the biggest crowd I had seen since…maybe 2001. I’m not sure why, but it was definitely a welcome sight. As usual, there were nine rounds played – eight as a tournament and the ninth round as the final with four winners from previous rounds. As usual the event was hosted by the wonderful Elisabeth Edwards and John Schillner (without his time-out chair!!!) who were both in top form!

Since it was Lucy’s birthday party, “Lucy” and “Ethel” were on hand to celebrate her birthday. Like last may, they made the contest very interactive with getting the audience to traditional birthday games! The Hokey Pokey. The Chicken Dance. Musical Chairs. Noise makers. Limbo contest. Perhaps in reference to the petting zoo outside, nobody pinned a tail on any barnyard animal.

Jimmy Sheridan Junior Junior (Cameron) was in the audience again, and again a reference was made about the original Jimmy Junior – “Cameron has taken over Jimmy Sheridan’s throne. Remember Jimmy Sheridan? Every time he was called up here we knew he would either win or the game was going to go on forever!” LOL! He won his round, but was not called up to the final.

Whitney’s mother was, and did a very good job! But, again, Leanne emerged victorious leaving everyone else to eat her dust!

August 2006 -- Day 2 – The Auction!

The auction this year was very strange…a lot of the big ticket items sold very low, if at all! The auction featured beautiful artwork, a Lucy Ricardo Rag Doll in very good condition, plates, comic books, magazines, postcards, scripts, movie posters, and a fantastic photo of Lucy, Bob Hope, and “Henna Hooper” on the set of “The Facts of Life.”

Each winning bidder had the option of buying a bottle of wine signed by Carole Cook and/or a signed poster from Marjorie Lord’s seminar. Ric said during the auction that after so many long flights, Marjorie didn’t have time to sign both the wine bottles and posters in May so she took the posters home with her to sign. Both items were selling like hot cakes!

The Lucy rag doll only went for $500, which was shocking! Some of the beautiful artwork was left unsold. I don’t think anyone even bought the now infamous Danbury test market plate.

I walked off with an original script for The Lucy Show (Lucy the Stockholder) and a 16mm print of TLS’s Lucy Is A Chaparone. I can’t believe it!

August 2006 -- Day Two -- Phipps Department Store Presents: Breakfast with Bob and Dann!

The day started off early with Dann Cahn’s presentation of the I Love Lucy movie at 9:30, so we had to get up at 8:00…apparently I was woken up three separate times and carried on a ripping conversation but I don’t remember any of that. When we were ready we headed downstairs to the lobby breakfast area (even though Dann’s event was a breakfast, we paid for the hotel breakfast so we nibbled on principle). Bob Schiller was eating his breakfast in the centre of the lobby area, but I didn’t want to interrupt his breakfast! But I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible while staring at him in awe. LOL

After a small nibble, we headed to the theatre to see Dann’s presentation. The breakfast was very good – a bread pudding like dish (what’s the name of it?) that had sausage and cheese in it, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and tea. Just before I went up to breakfast, I found Amanda from the Lounge with her husband and son who was sick…poor little guy! It was great seeing them again!

Dann’s presentation was wonderful as usual. It started off with the small documentary he showed at the Members party the night before. He then introduced the movie along with his still razor-sharp anecdotes on the filming, etc. Dann mentioned in his remarks that his “operatives” have told him that the I Love Lucy Movie is likely to be available on Paramount DVD next year! YIPPIE!!!!!!!!

We then sat back to watch the fruits of his labour.

After the movie finished, someone had set up a petting zoo which featured lizards, tortoises and goats in the same pen, geese, an animal that looked like a combination jack rabbit/kangaroo, and prairie dogs (!). It was unusual, but it attracted a big crowd.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

August 2006 -- Day 1 – Annabel with Robert Osborne and the Museum Members Party

The next event was a wonderful presentation of the two Annabel movies at the Reg Lenna Civic Center hosted by Robert Osborne. It was surreal – since TCM magically appeared on my cable package last October, I have become a TCM junkie. Now, here was Robert Osborne hosting the movies right before my eyes (complete with an easy chair and table lamp in the background, LOL) . Fantastic! Robert gave a complete breakdown of both the Annabel movies and the popularity of serial movies so popular in the 30s and 40s. He was also very good in relating the Annabel movies to Lucy’s later work. This man is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge and seeing him in action live was amazing! At the screening I also had a chance to catch up with Mike Elliot!

The Lucy-Desi Center presented the films in a really neat way – it was complete with vintage trailers (for the Magic Carpet, yet!) and Philip Morris commercials. Then The Affairs of Annabel started! It was great as always, but I think they used one of the original prints for the screening so sometimes the picture was a out of focus or scratchy in the occasional corner, but it was interesting watching it from the real thing! At the end of the film, Robert came out and introduced Annabel Takes A Tour and then bade us Goodnight. At the beginning, they were using one of the older prints, but it had sound problems so I think they switched to a video or DVD.

After the films I popped over to the Museum Members Party and on the way there I spotted Diane and Liane (Dliane? TomKat, Brangelina, Bennifer, eat your heart out!) and talked to them for a few minutes while they were watching Lucy Under The Stars (Lucy Gets Ricky On The Radio was on). There was a smaller crowd than usual at the museum party, but that’s good – more room to move around! Dann Cahn was showing a brief DVD on the creation of the ILL animated openings, which was good! But, before that was screened, Dann’s DVD malfunctioned so Ric had to go get another copy from the Desilu Playhouse. While Ric was down the road, the boy who John Schillner dubbed “Jimmy Sheridan Junior” entertained us with a recitation of the Vitameatavegamin sales pitch, and to a rousing rendition of New York, New York. John may have to change his nickname to “Frank Sinatra Senior Junior.” HA!

On my walk back to the Hotel, I picked up one of the new "Christmas Show" Mattel dolls which had JUST arrived at the museum gift shop. They look a lot better in person, the pictures on eBay don't do them justice. The weird thing though is that each one looks a bit different than the other; different head angles, etc.