Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dear Fellow Lucyfans:

Down Memory Lane...

It has been almost 17 years since "Lucy: A Tribute" first opened at Universal City Studios in Hollywoood. That March 22, 1991 "premiere" was the first ever on-going display honoring the great comedienne... Now, sadly, it's coming to an end. The Tribute reportedly closes today at 5PM.

To capture some of the magic and some of the sadness, documentarian Garret Boyajian is planning on taping the last hours of the exhibit.

Included in the displays are "recreations" of both Lucy's "reel" life -- such as a mock-up of the Ricardo livingroom -- and her "real life" -- a reproduction of a corner of the lanai in her Beverly Hills home, where she'd sit for hours on end playing backgammon and chatting with friends (see photo, right).

The collection also includes priceless artifacts from Lucy and Desi's personal belongings, including Desi's guitar, hat, and drums and the various Emmy Awards won over the years by the great Redhead. (See photos below.)

I had the privilege of attending the "Opening Night" festivities back in 1991, and remember the evening quite well... Many of the celebrities who'd worked with Lucy over the years were there that night -- including a few, such as actor Bruce Davison (of "Mame"), who happened to be shooting a film or TV show on the Universal lot that day and wanted to stop in and see this special "museum." Lucie and Desi Jr. were there, of course, along with their Aunt Cleo and cousin Marcus... Madelyn Davis and many of the other artists and craftsmen who had worked on the various "Lucy" shows attended... And, of course, Wanda Clark, Lucy' longtime secretary, and Frank Gorey, her driver/major domo.

It was at that Premiere Party that I met then-attorney Gregg Oppenheimer for the first time... Gregg and I became great friends over the years and worked together on various Lucy-related projects. The Tribute also afforded me the opportunity to meet such great imprssionists as Suzanne LaRusch, Diane Vincent, and Adrian Israel, who have recreated "Lucy" and "Ricky" for visitors to the park over the years.

In the early days, the Tribute included both the heart-shaped room full of display cases, and a separate "Lucy Gift Shop" in which one could purchase special souvenirs. The dedicated Gift Shop closed about 10 years ago... Now the main building...

While a Lucy-Desi Museum flourishes in her hometown of Jamestown, New York -- it is sad that with the demise of this Universal Tribute, there will be no Lucy "memorial" here in Hollywood, the city in which the lady lived the bulk of her life and where she won fame and fortune... We're gonna miss it!

Have a great week everyone!

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