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The Ann Sothern Show -- "The Lucy Story" (FULL!)


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  • 2 weeks later...

I wish I had a drinking buddy like Anne!

 

Talk about your enablers. Every time (except for her 3 season 4 appearances) Lucy and Ann got together they overindulged on alcohol and drugs. Had they re-teamed years later they might have made "Lucy and the Countess Go To Rehab" with a cameo by Betty Ford (and maybe Foster Brooks)

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  • 1 year later...

Am I right that Ann Sothern is the only actress who had two cross-over characters that met Lucy Ricardo (Susie and Katy) and that Danny and Kathy Williams are the only characters that knew two separate Lucy's (Ricardo and Carter)?

 

Interesting topic:  wonder if it deserves it's own thread??  ANYONE????

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This is a very interesting episode.  The 2nd season opener.  Much more actual "comedy" than a typical Ann Sothern Show, a series that succeeded almost SOLELY on the charm of Ann.  The problem with her character is that Katy's too level-headed and smart to instigate anything resembling wacky on her own.  (Like Kate Bradley of "Petticoat", a complete waste of Bea Benedaret's comedic talents.) The plots usually centered around some exotic hotel guest or Ann's romantic entanglements..... because as the song says (co-written by Ann) "ALL the fellas go for Katy", fellas considerably younger than Ann, whose relationships resembled one-date Carmichael's.    Ann probably would have done better with a Mary Tyler Moore concept where she's surrounded by kooks and has to be the rock that reacts to and deals with others' shenanigans.   Ironically, during the show's 3rd and last season, Louis Nye was introduced as Olive's boyfriend.  He and his over-bearing mother provided the show with actual laughs and something Katy could react to.  Alas, it was moved to CBS's Thursday night sitcom graveyard opposite the sole Desilu hit series on at the time "Untouchables".  The last season consisted on only 26 episodes instead of the usual 39 but enough episodes for  "Ann Sothern" to have a pretty healthy after-life in syndication.

Lucy is truly great in this episode, an example of her making as much out of a script as possible, more than it deserves.  She gets all the best lines.  My favorite: "And I said to myself 'Lucille.....' ......and I KNOW I'm serious when I call myself Lucille."  Lucy seems much more like Lucy Carmichael than Lucy Ricardo, her voice much deeper: not that, at this point, that was a bad thing.  When she says "WAR???", she actually sounds like late in run Lucy Carter.

This must have been a treat for 1959 viewers who would only get 3 one-hour Lucy Ricardo fixes that season. 

A couple of random thoughts:

That's a pretty big bottle of pills Ann hides in her cleavage!! 

Had this been a 2-parter, the next episode may have been "Katy and Lucy Go to the E.R".  Think what Lucy could do with a stomach-pumping scene! 

And one more thing: It's a little hard to imagine the tubby Desi of 1959 going skin diving! 

This one was written by Leonard Gershe, whose sole Lucy Show writing credit was the first Countess episode where they get drunk.

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One more thing:

When I saw the film Ann had put together to show as a retrospective of her work, this episode was the sole example of all her TV series work.  When  "the Ann Sothern Show" opening credits came on the screen, there was an affectionate "ahhh" from the audience.  Although everyone seemed to have fond memories of Ann, I doubt anyone could name a favorite episode of either of her series. 

The other TV work she showed, the drunk scene from "Havana", probably not wise to show the two back-to-back.

She edited this one down to include only the first and last scene.  In both this and "havana", Lucy got the bulk of the response from the audience.

I was hired to make a "Ann Sothern Comes to Portland" video by the charity she was here fund-raising.  It was a disaster for the charity (the event, not my video).  They just didn't know how to promote it and the events were sparsely attended.

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Lucy is truly great in this episode, an example of her making as much out of a script as possible, more than it deserves. She gets all the best lines. My favorite: "And I said to myself 'Lucille.....' ......and I KNOW I'm serious when I call myself Lucille."

I think this is Lucy's best moment in the show as well.

 

What year was the Ann Sothern event you worked on, Neil?

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November 1981....and it seems like just a few years ago. 

I'll see if I can dig out the video and post it.   I had just started doing independent production so my equipment was quite crude and my editing capabilities limited to cuts.  I saved all my raw footage to a VHS tape, loaned it to an Ann fan to watch who taped over it!---accidentally.  I do have a couple of raw footage reels, one in which she talks about working with Lucy and how wonderful she was.

I think this is Lucy's best moment in the show as well.

What year was the Ann Sothern event you worked on, Neil?

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One more thing:

When I saw the film Ann had put together to show as a retrospective of her work, this episode was the sole example of all her TV series work.  When  "the Ann Sothern Show" opening credits came on the screen, there was an affectionate "ahhh" from the audience.  Although everyone seemed to have fond memories of Ann, I doubt anyone could name a favorite episode of either of her series. 

The other TV work she showed, the drunk scene from "Havana", probably not wise to show the two back-to-back.

She edited this one down to include only the first and last scene.  In both this and "havana", Lucy got the bulk of the response from the audience.

I was hired to make a "Ann Sothern Comes to Portland" video by the charity she was here fund-raising.  It was a disaster for the charity (the event, not my video).  They just didn't know how to promote it and the events were sparsely attended.

I so agree with you, none of Ann's shows were memorable in the least but everyone was so happy to see HER on the small screen.

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Ann was quite large and walked with a cane.  Her broken back had left one or both feet numb.  But she was sharp and witty.  The charity was for a Hospice organization.  All they could afford was a small ad in the paper with the headline "Maisie Comes to Portland".  The first Maisie movie had been over 40 years before.  I had heard of Maisie movies but ever since I could read I scoured the TV Guide and NOT ONCE did a Maisie movie play on a Portland TV station.  The hospice people had the poor gal run ragged with these events:

Thursday: "Tea with Ann Sothern" in the "Georgian Room" of a downtown department store.  They had hired a local TV personality to be the host of this and the Saturday night gala.

Friday: Appearances on live TV "AM Northwest" (hosted by above mentioned local TV star) at 9 am and another on a different station's hour long noon news show.  A live call in radio show.  Interview with local paper (the article, never sent to Ann, stated "Always plump, Ann Sothern is now to put it bluntly FAT.")  Friday night: Attending a local high school production of "'West Side Story", speaking at intermission.

Saturday:  An EIGHT HOUR acting workshop "The Stanislovsky Method", then a benefit dinner on Saturday night at a ritzy hotel with the showing of Ann's retrospective film compilation and a Q&A.

Sunday: another 8 HR. acting workshop.

The film was about 90 minutes long; was shown 3 times: at the "Tea", the Gala and the acting workshop.  It was thrill to see the "Havana" scene as it hadn't aired in 15 years.

Ann was close to 73 at the time.  I don't know if the people organizing the thing informed her how much she was going to have to do, but she started to bail.  She was charming when she was on, but backstage she started to gripe; and bailing out of commitments, claiming illness. (My guess is that she was just TIRED.)  Instead of attending the whole show, she just showed up at intermission for the high school musical.  She was a no show at the first day workshop.  Showed up on day 2 and the "Stanislovsky" method consisted of the actors doing improv and Ann critiquing. 

Ann did this for free but the organization paid her expenses.  She brought along a neighbor as her helper.  They stayed in the ritzy hotel and evidently Ann wasn't shy about calling on 'room service'.

I got to spend a lot of time with Ann and she appreciated someone who was familiar with her career.  It was my first time being this close to a celebrity and quite insightful. 

The head of the hospice was the daughter of one of Ann's cousins, but they had met only a few times.  Subsequent to the benefit, Ann invited her (hospice head) and her husband to Hawaii and that's where the relationship went SOUR.   The hospice head became a friend on mine and spilled the dirt about the trip...which I'll go into later.

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Ann was quite large and walked with a cane.  Her broken back had left one or both feet numb.  But she was sharp and witty.  The charity was for a Hospice organization.  All they could afford was a small ad in the paper with the headline "Maisie Comes to Portland".  The first Maisie movie had been over 40 years before.  I had heard of Maisie movies but ever since I could read I scoured the TV Guide and NOT ONCE did a Maisie movie play on a Portland TV station.  The hospice people had the poor gal run ragged with these events:

Thursday: "Tea with Ann Sothern" in the "Georgian Room" of a downtown department store.  They had hired a local TV personality to be the host of this and the Saturday night gala.

Friday: Appearances on live TV "AM Northwest" (hosted by above mentioned local TV star) at 9 am and another on a different station's hour long noon news show.  A live call in radio show.  Interview with local paper (the article, never sent to Ann, stated "Always plump, Ann Sothern is now to put it bluntly FAT.")  Friday night: Attending a local high school production of "'West Side Story", speaking at intermission.

Saturday:  An EIGHT HOUR acting workshop "The Stanislovsky Method", then a benefit dinner on Saturday night at a ritzy hotel with the showing of Ann's retrospective film compilation and a Q&A.

Sunday: another 8 HR. acting workshop.

The film was about 90 minutes long; was shown 3 times: at the "Tea", the Gala and the acting workshop.  It was thrill to see the "Havana" scene as it hadn't aired in 15 years.

Ann was close to 73 at the time.  I don't know if the people organizing the thing informed her how much she was going to have to do, but she started to bail.  She was charming when she was on, but backstage she started to gripe; and bailing out of commitments, claiming illness. (My guess is that she was just TIRED.)  Instead of attending the whole show, she just showed up at intermission for the high school musical.  She was a no show at the first day workshop.  Showed up on day 2 and the "Stanislovsky" method consisted of the actors doing improv and Ann critiquing. 

Ann did this for free but the organization paid her expenses.  She brought along a neighbor as her helper.  They stayed in the ritzy hotel and evidently Ann wasn't shy about calling on 'room service'.

I got to spend a lot of time with Ann and she appreciated someone who was familiar with her career.  It was my first time being this close to a celebrity and quite insightful. 

The head of the hospice was the daughter of one of Ann's cousins, but they had met only a few times.  Subsequent to the benefit, Ann invited her (hospice head) and her husband to Hawaii and that's where the relationship went SOUR.   The hospice head became a friend on mine and spilled the dirt about the trip...which I'll go into later.

What an absolutely terrific and insightful post, one of your best ever!

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2 eight hour classes on top of everything else. That's crazy. And what does being fat have to do with anything.

 

I would have started bailing on this schedule too.

Exactly, when you get to be 73 and can still manage a crazy schedule like that when you walk with a cane and have excess weight, i admire her for it.  No wonder Lucy loved her, God how i wish she had joined The Lucy show when Viv left.

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2 eight hour classes on top of everything else. That's crazy. And what does being fat have to do with anything.

 

I would have started bailing on this schedule too.

Mary (the cousin) knew Ann's sisters Bonnie and Marion more than she knew Ann.  Before the benefit, she had gone down to see her in LA.  She's thinks that between then and the event, she had had some cosmetic work done.  I remember she had a pair of  small round scars on each side of her mouth that she tried vainly to cover with make-up.  

In 2014 dollars, the gala was $100 (buffet dinner and dancing to a small band included).  The acting workshop: $150 per day.  The tea was $60, so things were a bit steep.

The hospice was located in Sandy, Oregon a good 45 min-to-one hour drive from Portland, all highway, no freeway.   All of the events took place in Portland, except for the workshops at a community college about midway between the two cities.  So the Sandy locals were less likely to attend en masse.  As stated early, it wasn't really advertized the way it should have been.  The name "Maisie" wasn't a big draw.  Ann's name was in smaller print with a current (VERY airbrushed) small picture in the ad, which was no more than 2" by 2".   Don't know how many times it ran.

They ended up not selling many tickets.  I think they were giving away the acting workshop tickets, so nobody complained when Ann didn't show up the first day.  I'm sure those that actually paid got their money back.

The first event, the afternoon "Tea", was the worst.  This was a restaurant with many 60 round tables that held 8 people each.  Only 5 or 6 were filled.  Nobody had told Ann.  I have her on video rounding the corner as her music intro played and people applauding.  Ann's smile cracked ever so slightly when she saw the size of the crowd.  Started her talk with "My cousin tells me I'm still popular in Portland......(long pause and she surveys the room)....but somehow I doubt it."  The film was shown at this event too.

It didn't help that the weather was absolutely miserable the whole time she was here.  Cold and pouring down rain. 

Ann and Mary (who was about Ann's daughter's age) parted on good enough terms here that Ann invited her and her husband to Hawaii to stay at a condo loaned to Ann by a friend.  The condo turned out to be in a high rise in downtown Honolulu.  Ann and Mary (cousin) had a falling out.  They had been locking horns over little things.  Mary was no shrinking violet either.  But the camel back-breaking straw was, as Mary tells it: "I was fixing Ann some toast and asked if she wanted it buttered.  Ann said, 'That's a STUPID thing to ask'" and Mary had had ENOUGH and said "Ann Sothern! You have met your match!" .  Ann did not want to do any touring and Mary and husband did not want to be stuck in this condo--especially with HER--, which could have been anywhere, no ocean view, so they toured without her.  The good bye's were a bit stilted.  Mary said as they left, Ann stood at the door.  As they got on the elevator Mary looked back and Ann dramatically and slowly closed the door.

BUT there was a post script, Mary received a letter from Ann's maid, suggesting that "MISS Sothern's FAVORITE pair of panty hose" was missing and Mary may have "accidentally" packed them away in her suitcase, although the subtext was clear: she thought Mary took them (the gals were about the same size).   Mary didn't, and was outraged.  I was so amused by this letter that Mary gave it to me and I think I still have it somewhere.  And that ended Mary's relationship with Ann.  I received a Christmas card from Ann that year, so hastily sent one back to her, as I did the next year but never received another.

One more thing: seeing Ann with lashes and then without was the first time I realized how much they change a woman's appearance. 

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In one of Ann's Q&A talks about her career, she mentioned with a little twinkle in her eye that "one of my suitors ended up in the White House"  (assuming she wasn't referring to Rutheford B. Hayes) and that she's been asked many times to write her "BEE-ography" (as she pronounced it)*.  She admits that "I've been in this town a long time and I know where a lot of bodies are buried, but.....I don't want to RAT on people."

Ann wore Rosemary Clooney-like gown/caftans.

 

*although I don't remember her mentioning her home city, but very likely she would have said "LOS Angle-eze" like Gale and Lucy.

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