Still in Love with Lucy
by Thomas Watson
Monday, August 3, 2009
Dear Fellow Lucyfans,
Remembering Irma Kusely
The "Lucy" community was saddened last week by the death of Irma Kusely, Lucy's longtime hair stylist and a good friend of Lucyfans everywhere.
Irma passed away in her sleep early Wednesday morning, July 29, 2009. She was 95.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 8th, 11am in Glendale, California, at the Chapel of the Jesus Ethic, Ann Ree Colton Foundation (366 W. Colorado Street).
Born Irma Clara Wagerer in Salt Lake City, Utah, Irma and her family moved to Los Angeles in 1923, where she later found employment in a beauty shop as a shampooer. A neighbor's daughter worked at MGM Studios, and Irma's mother coaxed her friend to find Irma a spot in the hair department. That would take time, they were advised. In the meantime, Irma found work styling wigs at the Max Factor Salons. For the next seven years, she studied, learned her craft, and became one of the Factor Salons' prized assets.
Finally, in the early 1940s, a position opened up at MGM, and Irma joined the studio. Among her "clients" were Katharine Hepburn (who became a life-long friend), Cyd Charisse, Angela Lansbury, Frances Rafferty -- and a certain redhead named Lucille Ball.
Irma married John Kusely in October, 1945, and two years later retired from the studio life to start a family. Son Michael was born in 1947, and Jim in 1949.
Lucy, meanwhile, also left MGM, and after a few years of freelancing in the movies, started her long television career in 1951. A lady named Roberta "Bert" French was hired to do her hair. I Love Lucy proved to be so successful that Desilu Productions started working on other programs as well -- including Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks, which premiered in 1952. Eve needed someone to do her hair for the show -- a "two-day-a-week job" -- and Irma, by now looking for parttime work, was hired. When Lucy discovered Irma was "back," she eventually convinced her to switch over and do her hair instead. They loved working together, and Irma stayed at Lucy's side for 35 years!
Irma later joined us for our annual Loving Lucy fan conventions in Burbank, California (1996-2001) and appeared at fan events in Jamestown, New York. She will be missed by us all.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be sent to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
Lucie to Sing in San Francisco
Our East-Coast reporter, Skip Koenig, recently sent me a West-Coast update: Lucie Arnaz has been booked to sing at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco the week of December 8-13. The nightclub is located in the Hotel Nikko, at 222 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.
For more information visit www.therrazzroom.com
FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTERS
Albuquerque Salutes Viv
Vivian Vance's 100th Birthday (July 26) will be celebrated in her longtime "hometown" of Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday, August 8.
The event, produced and hosted by Viv's only surviving sister, Lou Ann Graham, is part of the annual Albuquerque Film Festival. It will be held at the Kimo Theatre (423 Central Avenue, NW), from 10AM-12N. Lou Ann will screen two of Viv and Lucy's TV programs (one each from I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show) and participate in a Question-and-Answer session.
Vivian was born in Cherryvale, Kansas, but she and her family relocated to Albuquerque by the mid-1920s, and Viv always considered it "home." She appeared there -- at the Kimo Theatre -- in 1930 in a vaudeville-type show called "Cushman's Revue," which helped launch her career on the stage.
I will be joining Lou Ann in the Q&A sessions. We hope the Lucyfans in the area will be able to stop by and join in the celebration!
A Summer of "Lucy" on DVD
A few weeks ago, we mentioned that CBS Home Entertainment will be releasing Season One of THE LUCY SHOW on DVD July 21.
I'm happy to report that the "advance sales" of the set on websites like amazon.com are going very well. Many thanks to those who have already ordered their set(s) -- if sales continue to be good, CBS will almost certainly authorize Season Two...
Also appearing this summer -- this time from MPI Home Video -- will be the first of the Lucille Ball Specials, programs produced by Lucille Ball Productions between 1974 and 1980. Up first: "Lucy Gets Lucky" (featuring guest star Dean Martin) and "Three for Two" (with Jackie Gleason). The disc is scheduled for release June 30.
Coming August 25, also from MPI, is Season One of HERE'S LUCY. Included will be all 24 episodes from the 1968-69 season, plus newly-produced interviews and program intros and other bonus goodies...
All in all, a great summer for Lucy-on-DVD fans!
Dann Cahn Headlines Jamestown Events
I Love Lucy film editor Dann Cahn will headline three major events at this year's "Lucy's Birthday Celebration" in Jamestown, New York. Held the weekend of August 7-8-9, the annual event will also feature performances by "Lucy and Ricky" impressionists Adrian Israel and Diane Vincent, and presentations by video-and filmmaker Garret Boyajian.
Cahn, who joined Desilu in late August, 1951, just as I Love Lucy was starting production, will be saluted at a special luncheon on Saturday, August 8, in the Lucy-Desi Center's Tropicana Room. The following morning, he will be the Center's special guest at a "Legend Event" in the Lucy-Desi Museum; and later that day, he will host the 1st Annual "Desilu Family Picnic," to be held at Lucy's longtime childhood home in nearby Celeron, New York.
Adrian Israel will recreate many of Ricky Ricardo's famous musical moments in two special dinner presentations, one on Friday evening, one on Sunday evening. Diane Vincent will appear as you-know-who...
Garret Boyajian will host three events relating to the recently released "Lucille Ball Specials" DVDs -- and the soon-to-be-released "Here's Lucy" DVDs.
The weekend's "Saturday night event" will be a "Karaoke Costume Cabaret," for which fans are encouraged to dress in their favorite Lucy-related outfits -- and to step up to the microphone and entertain.
Tickets to the events are now on sale via the Lucy-Desi Center web site at:
www.lucy-desi.com (Festival Tickets)
Lucie at Radio Convention
Gregg Oppenheimer dropped us a line to tell us that a video clip is available of Lucie Arnaz singing at last fall's Friends of Old Time Radio Convention in Newark:
Dann Cahn Memoirs...
Dann Cahn, the original film editor on I Love Lucy -- and later a director of various films and television programs -- has completed the fourth (and final) installment of his "Lucy" memoirs, "The Best of Times." Dann sold copies at the recent Lucy-Desi Days festival in Jamestown, New York, but also wants to make them available to readers of this web site.
As our regular readers know, Dann has been writing his memoirs in the form of "articles" for the past several years. He started writing them in the early 1990s as stories for "Cinema Editor," the official publication of American Cinema Editors, Inc. (an honorary professional society). When Lucy fans discovered them, Dann revised and expanded the articles, and illustrated them with photos from his personal collection. Each has been published in a self-contained booklet.
The new installment is called "The Best of Times," and chronicles Dann's experiences at Desilu (1951-1959), when the company went from being a "one show operation" to the busiest studio in Hollywood.
Also still available are the three Dann wrote previously: (1) "The Beginning," recounting the start of "I Love Lucy" -- and how Dann was hired to work on the series. (2) "The Cuban Caper," which tells how Dann was sent to Cuba by Desilu to film special footage for the first Lucy-Desi special, "Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana." and (3) "Movies & Memories," which harkens back to the 1930s when Lucy -- and Danny -- were both starting out in Hollywood... and ends with them working together on "Forever, Darling" in the 1950s.
The spiral-bound booklets are priced at $17 each ($15, plus $2 postage and handling), and can be purchased from Dann directly.
Send check or money order to:
PO Box 49824
Los Angeles, CA 90049
If you want the booklet(s) inscribed, please enclose a note indicating to whom he should sign the inscription.
Back to All About Lucy
Original materials © 2009 Lucyfan Enterprises. All rights reserved.
"I Love Lucy" is copyrighted by and a registered trademark of CBS Worldwide, Inc.
Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used with permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
Licensing by Unforgettable Licensing, Northbrook, Illinois.