Today is Lucy’s 100th birthday. While she wasn’t the first groundbreaking female TV star (that honor goes to Gertrude Berg, and if you want to learn about her see Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg), she is the one most all of us have memories of because her show was constantly on in reruns. I remember watching Lucy all the time. And Lucy was the show that you could watch with your grandma and feel a connection with because she was remembering her and you were discovering her. Seeing Lucy on screen for the first time was revelatory. She just popped off the TV. She almost levitated. Her abundance of energy, smarts and zaniness was something I had never experienced before. I grew to appreciate Lucy more as I got older and understood how hard it is to be funny.
She was funny when funny had no definition. She was everything and fearless (or she looked fearless) and that’s why we all loved her. She brought us the first rich female friendship on TV. Sometimes it seemed that Lucy and Ethel were way more in sync than Lucy and Ricky.
She had 13 Emmy nominations and 4 wins. She was the first woman to run and TV production company which she started with husband Desi Arnaz and then took over after they divorced. She was the first woman to be pregnant on TV and to give birth on TV (but of course they couldn’t use the word pregnant.)
Stephen M. Silverman offer a excerpt from his book: Funny Ladies: 100 Years of Great Comediennes in honor of Lucy’s centennial:
Words pale in comparison to her actions. She was as balletic as Chaplin, also as vulnerable, to the point that if she had come along first, we no doubt would be comparing him to her. She was a lightning-quick as any of the Marx Brothers, but unlike them (dirty old men, one and all), she was a striking beauty. Her distinct comic persona was as finely honed as Jack Benny’s vainglorious penny-pincher and W.C. Fields’s gin-soaked misanthrope (or Will Rogers’s folksy cowboy, for that matter).
Indeed, try to imagine television, or even the cultural landscape, without its beloved wacky redhead.
Sorry, not a funny proposition.
Lucille Ball: Celebrating 100 Years of the ‘I Love Lucy’ Star (Hollywood Reporter)