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The 1990s and Gary

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The 1990s were a very interesting time for Lucy fans. I first came to love Lucy in this decade so I didn’t realize at that time what wonderful things happened during these years but looking back there was quite a lot. In the early 90s the Lucy Tribute opened at Universal Studios in Hollywood and eventually one opened at the Florida park as well. In 1993 the Home Movies aired. The Jamestown Lucyfests began in 1991 and in 1996 the first museum opened at the May festival. This led to many years when the festivals started to take on more of a Lucy theme. Also in 1996 the Loving Lucy conventions began in LA and ran until 2001. In 1996 we had the publishing of Lucy’s book. We had a lot of other books released in this decade as well as the scrapbook CD-Rom. Nick at Night and TV Land both started running ILL as a fixture on their schedules. Remember Block Party Summer on Nick at Night? Lucy was on Tuesdays. And the Comedy Hours were shown at 10pm on Saturday nights. TCM and AMC were the go to place to catch Lucy’s old movies. Tons of ILL themed merchandise started appearing for sale as well.

 

So with all this Lucy stuff happening the kids (mostly Lucie) were involved to varying extents with some of these events. Be it either at openings, talk show appearances, magazine articles and quotes in books, and Lucie made it to Loving Lucy 99’. Then I got to thinking. Gary was alive (died March 30, 1999, my 20th birthday) during all of this and other than the kids was the closet living link we had to Lucy. I don’t remember ever seeing him in this decade. I’ve been able to track down the following.

 

He accepted the Governor’s Award for Lucy, after her death, on the Emmy awards. He appeared in Post Cards From The Edge. He is thanked in the credits for the Home Movies. As for events, my pic in another thread shows he was present at the Florida Lucy Tribute opening. I believe I’ve only seen one pic from the LA one and he wasn’t in it. Does anyone know if he attended? I do remember hearing about the new marriage which I believe was 1996.

 

Did he just retire to Palm Springs and not want to be involved with anything related to any Lucy events. With all the books and magazine articles I wonder why he was not interviewed. I’ve listened to an interview with one of the Desilu book writers and how Lucie was able to open a lot of doors for them to talk to people, including family. I wonder if Gary did not want to be interviewed. Given how much he seemed involved in her affairs during their marriage why all of a sudden does he not have any involvement in these types of things. I can understand the Home Movies as it wasn’t about him.

 

Also I’m assuming that Lucille Ball Productions was still a working company up until her death. Did Lucy’s death put a permanent stop to any projects that they were looking at producing, if in fact there was anything they were doing at the time? With some many of Lucy’s friends and family popping up and sharing stories during this decade I would have loved to hear from him, good or bad.

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I worked for Lucy and Gary at the time of her death, and can shed a little light on some of the things you ask...

 

He loved Lucy very much, and was obviously very grief-stricken by her sudden (and totally unexpected) death. (We had been planning to bring her home from the hospital in a day or two... )

 

Lucy left the Palm Springs home to Gary in her will... She knew he loved it down there (the golf, the climate, etc.)  She left the Beverly Hills house to the kids, and they had homes of their own and no real interest in keeping that expensive piece of real estate. So Gary decided to move permanently to Palm Springs, and they vacated the rest of the house and put it on the market.  It took two or three years to sell, thanks to a collapsed real estate market... and in the meantime, he adjusted to life in Palm Springs...

 

He participated in a few Lucy-related events -- such as her "receiving" the honorary Emmy... I never spoke with him about most of the books, so I cannot comment on them. One book, however, which shall remain nameless, sparked his ire -- along with that of the rest of the family, yours truly, and many others...

 

When we started the Loving Lucy Conventions, he was invited every year, but every year said it would be too sad -- to emotional for him to enjoy.

 

But Lucy remained a key element in his life.  I visited him a few times down in Palm Springs, and even after he had remarried, there was always a beautiful portrait of Lucy sitting in his livingroom...

 

Hope this helps...

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Tom thank you very much for that response, it did answer my questions. Never knew you guys had invited Gary to the conventions, but maybe at the time I didn’t really think about it. It does warm my heart to know that he remembered her so fondly and that even 7 years after her death when the conventions started he didn’t think he was emotionally up to them. I don’t doubt that they were in love.

 

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you Tom and everyone you worked with for putting on the Loving Lucy conventions. I was fortunate to attend 97’ and 99’ and look back on them as cherished memories. It’s sad to realize that so many of those who were involved have passed on now. I kept every bit of memorabilia from those in a scrapbook along with my photos. I’m also very happy I have many hours of home video I took from both conventions. I had not watched them in a while until last year when I was converting my VHS tapes to DVD and realized how lucky we all were to sit in that convention center those weekends and listen to those very specials people that were there throughout Lucy’s life tell their stories.

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Ok, which BOOK, Herb Solow or Howard Rayfiel? Both had very juicy tidbits about gare.

My guess on the books is either Lucille or Lucy in the Afternoon. Some rather controversial stuff in Lucille and Lucy In the Afternoon was looked on as a fair weather friend making a quick buck so soon after her death.
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Tom thank you very much for that response, it did answer my questions. Never knew you guys had invited Gary to the conventions, but maybe at the time I didn’t really think about it. It does warm my heart to know that he remembered her so fondly and that even 7 years after her death when the conventions started he didn’t think he was emotionally up to them. I don’t doubt that they were in love.

 

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you Tom and everyone you worked with for putting on the Loving Lucy conventions. I was fortunate to attend 97’ and 99’ and look back on them as cherished memories. It’s sad to realize that so many of those who were involved have passed on now. I kept every bit of memorabilia from those in a scrapbook along with my photos. I’m also very happy I have many hours of home video I took from both conventions. I had not watched them in a while until last year when I was converting my VHS tapes to DVD and realized how lucky we all were to sit in that convention center those weekends and listen to those very specials people that were there throughout Lucy’s life tell their stories.

 

Thanks... I loved the conventions, too. They were a LOT of work, but -- as you say -- so wonderfully rewarding... I worked with a core group of very talented individuals (including Stu Shostak, Rick Carl, Michael Stern, Mark Towner, Patrick Ziegler, Dave Woodman, Suzanne LaRusch, and more...) who helped make it all happen.  It was a joy to watch fans from literally all over the world come together with just one purpose in mind: to celebrate Lucy!

 

Gary used to call me every year, first on Thursday or Friday before the convention started -- to wish us well -- and again either on Sunday evening or early Monday morning after it was over -- to find out who was there, who said what, how many people attended, etc.

 

I miss these gatherings, but as you say, we have lost so many of the wonderful celebrities that made them so special -- It would be imppossible to replicate them today...

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Hey, if I could get SHIRLEY HEMPHILL out of Jim Brochu, maybe one day i'll get the answer of which book from you.  I'm pretty sure it's Ray, or Herb. :gary:

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Hey, if I could get SHIRLEY HEMPHILL out of Jim Brochu, maybe one day i'll get the answer of which book from you.  I'm pretty sure it's Ray, or Herb. :gary:

 

Maybe Gary checked out a copy of the Eleanor Harris book from the Palm Springs Public Library and found something objectionable.

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I worked for Lucy and Gary at the time of her death, and can shed a little light on some of the things you ask...

 

He loved Lucy very much, and was obviously very grief-stricken by her sudden (and totally unexpected) death. (We had been planning to bring her home from the hospital in a day or two... )

 

Lucy left the Palm Springs home to Gary in her will... She knew he loved it down there (the golf, the climate, etc.)  She left the Beverly Hills house to the kids, and they had homes of their own and no real interest in keeping that expensive piece of real estate. So Gary decided to move permanently to Palm Springs, and they vacated the rest of the house and put it on the market.  It took two or three years to sell, thanks to a collapsed real estate market... and in the meantime, he adjusted to life in Palm Springs...

 

He participated in a few Lucy-related events -- such as her "receiving" the honorary Emmy... I never spoke with him about most of the books, so I cannot comment on them. One book, however, which shall remain nameless, sparked his ire -- along with that of the rest of the family, yours truly, and many others...

 

When we started the Loving Lucy Conventions, he was invited every year, but every year said it would be too sad -- to emotional for him to enjoy.

 

But Lucy remained a key element in his life.  I visited him a few times down in Palm Springs, and even after he had remarried, there was always a beautiful portrait of Lucy sitting in his livingroom...

 

Hope this helps...

 

Tom:  Thanks so much for this information; it should FINALLY put to rest at least some 'gossip' and other 'unsavory' chatter!   I, for one, appreciate you coming over here and commenting.  Always loving you, and Richard, of course....Joyce Kellogg

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Brock, the Solow book painted him as an incompetent boob whom nobody liked and the Rayfiel one was not much better even hinting at him being offered sex while in London but saying he'd be happy with just a blow job so as to not get back to his wife, what a classy guy.

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The Rayfiel book though came out in the 2000s though and Solow ' s book was on Star Trek with Lucy being a minor character. I believe it had to be a book on Lucy for as many people as Tom mentions having an issue with it.

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That's YOUR way of thinking about them, I think both books were about the running of Desilu for the most part.  Oh, so the Rayfiel book came out after gary died, well, there goes THAT theory.  I guess YOU were right, Lucy in the Afternoon pissed off a lot of Lucy connected people. 

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Did you answer my previous question about WHICH book, LOL!

It could have been just about any of them.  He's not portrayed well in any except for Michael Stern's. 

I think Gary did the best he could in a no-win situation. Lucy plucked him from relative show-biz obscurity and moved him to California.  Though he loved the weather, had was out of his element as an "executive producer" and I'm sure everyone knew it.  With the overt and covert resentment he must have encountered from people he supervised who knew much more than he did, he kept his dignity---which considering everything was no small accomplishment!

I'm sure the predictions were that this marriage wouldn't last.  One has to wonder where Gary would have ended up without Lucy. It's hard to discern exactly what his career actually entailed in 1961, but as bookings in 3rd string clubs started drying up, bowling alley openings and such would likely have followed.  Eventually he might have dropped show biz and started selling shoes. (Or become a model for "Tailor Toppers", the $9.95 hairpiece advertised in the back pages of movie magazines.)  Not that he was without talent.  He just didn't have the special something that would have elevated him to the higher echelon of comedians.   Might have turned to acting.  His "Postcards" turn was well done as was his surprising appearance (because of when it was done, it's so totally NOT of the LBP style) as the smarmy comedian in "Lenny".  When the casting people were pitching names out loud for this part, did they all shout his name in unison?  Assuming the more likely choice, Milton Berle wanted too much money.

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Good points, remember that I really wanted him as a regular on The Lucy show to act as her boyfriend, I thought he was good but the Postcards BIT was so small, it's not even worth mentioning, HE DOES NOD GREAT THOUGH!  LOL!  They DID make a nice couple though, he did look distinguished next to her BUT I think it was Ray's book that said he was always telling people how to do their jobs yet they knew he knew nothing in their areas of work.  And the shocking thing was Lucy would admit to people they she knew people just hated him and had no respect for him, Mr Ball indeed.

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Mike Nichols himself called Gary about appearing in "Postcards." Gary was not sure at first, whether he should do it -- it was only a few months after Lucy's death... But he was kinda proud  that he had appeared in two films, one directed by Mr. Nichols, and one by Bob Fosse ("Lenny"). Not bad!

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I liked his parts in both. Other than Nicholas offering him the part wasn't there someone that pushed him to do it? Telling him it would be a good thing to get out of the house and work since it so close after Lucy’s death.

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Thanks for the great and enlightening posts, Tom.

 

Milton Berle was offered the role in Lenny (it was based on him) and turned it down because he thought it was too small. Bob Fosse supposedly bumped into the Mortons in a restaurant and came up with the idea to cast Gary in the part.

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Mentioning books folks found objectionable to the nth degree brings to mind one that had early Center 'employees', shall we say, [before the GREAT FIRE], a book by Kanfer, 'Ball of Fire' - it was on the shelves for sale; but, considered 'awful' - ANYONE?  tjw????

 

No one has even mentioned THAT one so far, have they, Brock?

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I couldn't find a gary thread so i figured i'd put it here, this is from Joan Rivers' book "Still Talking" . . . . speaking of Joan and her husband Edgar's bad experience with 20th Century Fox and especially head honcho Barry Diller . . . Joan talks of Diller's contempt for her husband, at one point telling him to SHUT UP, in front of Joan . . . She states that if he had been her manager, he would have had a status but to Barry, he was just another Star's husband . . . superfluous, an unnecessary evil.  "Barry considered him another gary morton, Lucille Ball's husband, a Catskill-mountain comic made head of comedy development at Fox in order to get and keep Lucy.  Gary was laughed at, ridiculed behind his back, never taken seriously.  Maybe gary morton was smart about comedy, but nobody will ever know." 

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I think she knew. There is a letter from the widow Morton auction that Lucy wrote to Gary in the late 60’s implying that she even told him before they got married that he would “have to prove” in the eyes of others and that it sounded like this issue that he wasn’t good enough or worthy of his position (at the studio and with her) was troubling both of them.

 

Also in the Star Trek Herb Solo book Herb details a conversation he had with Lucy that gives all indication that she knew what was being said about him around the studio. She wasn’t stupid, she knew.

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