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Her Voice


Irene Kampen Tripp
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I have been wwtching TLS and HL lately and wondered if the critics blasted Lucille for being too basso in MAME....were they mentioning it pertaining to her tv characters? If anyone knows I would appreciate it.

They kept saying her voice was so much lower as they had heard her HIGH PITCHED voice on I Love Lucy all those years.  Blame Kate Hepburn, it was she who told her to scream at the top of her lungs while riding in convertibles to LOWER her voice which she thought was too high.  When the critics went after her for her voice in Mame it was more because of her singing than the sound of her voice. 

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They kept saying her voice was so much lower as they had heard her HIGH PITCHED voice on I Love Lucy all those years. Blame Kate Hepburn, it was she who told her to scream at the top of her lungs while riding in convertibles to LOWER her voice which she thought was too high. When the critics went after her for her voice in Mame it was more because of her singing than the sound of her voice.

I loved her voice. Especially in the 40s and 50s. She had a very soothing voice. But I do love the later voice. Especially since that's what we hear in the interviews. I don't know it could just be that I adore her so much, her voice gives me comfort.
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I loved her voice. Especially in the 40s and 50s. She had a very soothing voice. But I do love the later voice. Especially since that's what we hear in the interviews. I don't know it could just be that I adore her so much, her voice gives me comfort.

Ever hear of those babies who learn to love voices from inside the womb?  Maybe that's what happened to US, we heard her so often and for so long that . . . we take comfort in it.  Same as people tuned in the 50th anniversary special in it's THREE airings BECAUSE that era brought them comfort. 

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omg. im geeked over this discussion. lol 

I just find the adventures of her voice so fascinating lol 

 

I think she had a shriek-ish girly voice in the 30s of course, but something happened in the 40s

where her voice sounds odd. Its almost as if she takes on this way of talking thats - I dunno- like, Mrs  Howell(Gilligan's Island) meets Jane Hathaway (Beverly Hill Billies) only with a nice voice lol and yet, she always sounds as if shes speaking, but holding back her volume. I dont hear it much in MFH unless shes speaking as HERSELF and not as the character. This goes away in I Love Lucy I think, since she needs her volume to project to the audience, so she lets go and uses all of her voice, especially that high register-

 

When wildcat comes, I think it goes way down and stays down for a long time. She always sounds tired to me during wildcat (due to illness) and then during the first season of TLS. 

 

IMO The 60s are the worse to hear her even speak, let alone SING. Every time she says Mr Mooney during those years she had problems with her voice, its like hearing some one in true pain. I always thought, when first watching The Lucy Show, what ever happened to her voice after this, because shes struggling to get through just the first scene, screaming. 

 

By the time I saw HL, I thought... well... there she blows lol

 

It was the episode where she keeps saying "pot" all the way through, and just to hear her say that word, and HAARRYYYYY with that voice, omg. Ive never heard anything so annoying and painful.

...but come 1975-77,1980-81 and the voice begins to deepen a bit more, it finally becomes a character trait, like parodied on SNL.

 

but by 82 and after, I can not get enough of it. I DUNNO WHY lolol

 

I dont even like it on Bea Arthur or RoseMarie, but on Lucy, its perfect lol The hair, the make up, and the voice. ugh. brilliant 

 

THE ONLY TIME I hear her sound like she did in the late 60s is in 87 I believe, when she has on the blue shimmery gown for Bob Hope in Palm Springs. She sounds so healthy and vibrant, but any other time? 59 year old chain smoking NY cab driver all the way. Seems there are times, like the after show interview on the LWL hardware set, that she sounds EVEN DEPPER than usual. Shes deeper than the man interviewing her!! lolol 

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omg. im geeked over this discussion. lol 

I just find the adventures of her voice so fascinating lol 

 

I think she had a shriek-ish girly voice in the 30s of course, but something happened in the 40s

where her voice sounds odd. Its almost as if she takes on this way of talking thats - I dunno- like, Mrs  Howell(Gilligan's Island) meets Jane Hathaway (Beverly Hill Billies) only with a nice voice lol and yet, she always sounds as if shes speaking, but holding back her volume. I dont hear it much in MFH unless shes speaking as HERSELF and not as the character. This goes away in I Love Lucy I think, since she needs her volume to project to the audience, so she lets go and uses all of her voice, especially that high register-

 

When wildcat comes, I think it goes way down and stays down for a long time. She always sounds tired to me during wildcat (due to illness) and then during the first season of TLS. 

 

IMO The 60s are the worse to hear her even speak, let alone talk. Every time she says Mr Mooney during those years she had problems with her voice, its like hearing some one in true pain. I always thought, when first watching The Lucy Show, what ever happened to her voice after this, because shes struggling to get through just the first scene, screaming. 

 

By the time I saw HL, I thought... well... there she blows lol

 

It was the episode where she keeps saying "pot" all the way through, and just to hear her say that word, and HAARRYYYYY with that voice, omg. Ive never heard anything so annoying and painful.

...but come 1975-77,1980-81 and the voice begins to deepen a bit more, its really noticeable, (especially on VHS tapes, takes all the treble right our and leaves you nothing but bass lol)

 

but by 82 and after, I can not get enough of it. I DUNNO WHY lolol

 

I dont even like it on Bea Arthur or RoseMarie, but on Lucy, its perfect lol The hair, the make up, and the voice. ugh. brilliant 

 

THE ONLY TIME I hear her sound like she did in the late 60s is in 87 I believe, when she has on the blue shimmery gown for Bob Hope in Palm Springs. She sounds so healthy and vibrant, but any other time? 59 year old chain smoking NY cab driver all the way. Seems there are times, like the after show interview on the LWL hardware set, that she sounds EVEN DEPPER than usual. Shes deeper than the man interviewing her!! lolol 

Shame you haven't given the matter much thought, LOL!

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omg. im geeked over this discussion. lol

I just find the adventures of her voice so fascinating lol

 

I think she had a shriek-ish girly voice in the 30s of course, but something happened in the 40s

where her voice sounds odd. Its almost as if she takes on this way of talking thats - I dunno- like, Mrs Howell(Gilligan's Island) meets Jane Hathaway (Beverly Hill Billies) only with a nice voice lol and yet, she always sounds as if shes speaking, but holding back her volume. I dont hear it much in MFH unless shes speaking as HERSELF and not as the character. This goes away in I Love Lucy I think, since she needs her volume to project to the audience, so she lets go and uses all of her voice, especially that high register-

 

When wildcat comes, I think it goes way down and stays down for a long time. She always sounds tired to me during wildcat (due to illness) and then during the first season of TLS.

 

IMO The 60s are the worse to hear her even speak, let alone talk. Every time she says Mr Mooney during those years she had problems with her voice, its like hearing some one in true pain. I always thought, when first watching The Lucy Show, what ever happened to her voice after this, because shes struggling to get through just the first scene, screaming.

 

By the time I saw HL, I thought... well... there she blows lol

 

It was the episode where she keeps saying "pot" all the way through, and just to hear her say that word, and HAARRYYYYY with that voice, omg. Ive never heard anything so annoying and painful.

...but come 1975-77,1980-81 and the voice begins to deepen a bit more, its really noticeable, (especially on VHS tapes, takes all the treble right our and leaves you nothing but bass lol)

 

but by 82 and after, I can not get enough of it. I DUNNO WHY lolol

 

I dont even like it on Bea Arthur or RoseMarie, but on Lucy, its perfect lol The hair, the make up, and the voice. ugh. brilliant

 

THE ONLY TIME I hear her sound like she did in the late 60s is in 87 I believe, when she has on the blue shimmery gown for Bob Hope in Palm Springs. She sounds so healthy and vibrant, but any other time? 59 year old chain smoking NY cab driver all the way. Seems there are times, like the after show interview on the LWL hardware set, that she sounds EVEN DEPPER than usual. Shes deeper than the man interviewing her!! lolol

I love this. I never gave it much thought in the 80's just always seemed low.

 

On one of the public domain tapes there is a promo that Lucy and Desi do for Life of a Model. Lucy comes out and starts speaking in her "Lucy" voice. Then she transitions out of character to regular Lucille voice and it's amazing to hear the difference put that close together. The real voice is lower, her speaking is more direct and it has a bit of that breathyness to it. She then transitions back to "Lucy" again for a few words at the end.

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Very interesting topic.

Not to take anything away from the early ILL's, I like her voice much better after she stopped doing the "little girl". By the end of LDCH, it had acquired a much fuller timbre which I liked very much. "Wildcat" was done at exactly the right time for her voice. Given what came before and after, the OBC album captures her at her absolute best.

People blame Lucy's later voice on a number of things: smoking, drinking, (although I've never gotten the idea this was a real problem) the "Wildcat" strain, but the root cause as Claude pointed out could have been damage done by screaming in the convertible with Desi. I pinpoint the real transition at the 5th season of TLS. There are several episodes where she sounds like she has "larynyitis": Submarine, Drafted into Marines, John Wayne. Although I think it works fine for these episodes (and actually sounds sort of cute), her vocal chords may have been weakened at this point and the strain of projecting and trying to speak in a higher register than was natural may have caused the real damage because post 5th season, she has trouble projecting. She has a tendency to overact (like Lucy Carter's assessment of Ginger Rogers in the last scene of "Tender Comrade") to compensate. When she wasn't straining her voice, such as on talk shows, it's actually quite pleasant but she didn't try to incorporate this change into her Lucy character. It's too bad she didn't get some sort of professional vocal therapy when this was happening. I don't know how she got it into her head that she --and fellow actors--needed to PROJECT as if they were doing a stage show.

She was never able to make a lower voice work FOR her like, say the latter-day Colleen Dewhurst.

 

Also remember in a DVD release that included Lucy Show bloopers, in one done during the 5th (or maybe 4th) season, she's talking to the camera doing some sort of promo and her first word "Hi!" comes out as a laryngitis bark which she laughs off and cuts the take. This hoarse voice comes and goes during the the season. She seems to have done a lot of singing during the 4th and 5th seasons of TLS--on her show and others. IMO, this period before the hoarse-ness set in was when she sounded her best. Examples: "Wingding" "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" guest shots on "Dean Martin" "Steve Lawrence", "Some of these Days" with George Burns. "Main Street" may have been the last time she sounded good singing in that higher register. After this, when arrangements were lowered to suit her key---"Carnival Nights" in particular, she sounds wonderful but when required to sing along in the same key as Carol Burnett ("Gym Musical") she used a dubber, in that case Carole Cook.

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Very interesting topic.

Not to take anything away from the early ILL's, I like her voice much better after she stopped doing the "little girl". By the end of LDCH, it had acquired a much fuller timbre which I liked very much. "Wildcat" was done at exactly the right time for her voice. Given what came before and after, the OBC album captures her at her absolute best.

People blame Lucy's later voice on a number of things: smoking, drinking, (although I've never gotten the idea this was a real problem) the "Wildcat" strain, but the root cause as Claude pointed out could have been damage done by screaming in the convertible with Desi. I pinpoint the real transition at the 5th season of TLS. There are several episodes where she sounds like she has "larynyitis": Submarine, Drafted into Marines, John Wayne. Although I think it works fine for these episodes (and actually sounds sort of cute), her vocal chords may have been weakened at this point and the strain of projecting and trying to speak in a higher register than was natural may have caused the real damage because post 5th season, she has trouble projecting. She has a tendency to overact (like Lucy Carter's assessment of Ginger Rogers in the last scene of "Tender Comrade") to compensate. When she wasn't straining her voice, such as on talk shows, it's actually quite pleasant but she didn't try to incorporate this change into her Lucy character. It's too bad she didn't get some sort of professional vocal therapy when this was happening. I don't know how she got it into her head that she --and fellow actors--needed to PROJECT as if they were doing a stage show.

She was never able to make a lower voice work FOR her like, say the latter-day Colleen Dewhurst.

 

Also remember in a DVD release that included Lucy Show bloopers, in one done during the 5th (or maybe 4th) season, she's talking to the camera doing some sort of promo and her first word "Hi!" comes out as a laryngitis bark which she laughs off and cuts the take. This hoarse voice comes and goes during the the season. She seems to have done a lot of singing during the 4th and 5th seasons of TLS--on her show and others. IMO, this period before the hoarse-ness set in was when she sounded her best. Examples: "Wingding" "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" guest shots on "Dean Martin" "Steve Lawrence", "Some of these Days" with George Burns. "Main Street" may have been the last time she sounded good singing in that higher register. After this, when arrangements were lowered to suit her key---"Carnival Nights" in particular, she sounds wonderful but when required to sing along in the same key as Carol Burnett ("Gym Musical") she used a dubber, in that case Carole Cook.

Nicely put, you don't change your voice from social drinking, but you might if you were an out and out alcoholic like Desi.  She wasn't.  Loved that HI blooper, even she thought it was funny, LOL!  The old adage IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT comes to mind, she had always done the show in front of an audience and she wanted to get the laughs by making sure the people in the back heard her, HOWEVER, you are correct that the whole show and the acting of the youngsters would have seemed better if done in a normal speaking voice. 

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I agree with Neil that the sound of Lucy's voice was very noticeable in season five of The Lucy Show. On The John Davidson Show (or maybe Mike Douglas, I'm pretty sure it was Davidson... maybe it was a restaurant and not a cafeteria), Lucy was asked what physical aspect of herself would she change if she could and she said her voice. She also said it was not painful for her to speak.

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I agree with Neil that the sound of Lucy's voice was very noticeable in season five of The Lucy Show. On The John Davidson Show (or maybe Mike Douglas, I'm pretty sure it was Davidson... maybe it was a restaurant and not a cafeteria), Lucy was asked what physical aspect of herself would she change if she could and she said her voice. She also said it was not painful for her to speak.

Davidson/Douglas who? Restaurant what? Diner which? What are you referring to?

What's the significance of your quote "it was not painful for her to speak". Did someone ask her if it was?

I was there at a filming. The voices were miked and amplified by a PA system, so I'm wondering why no director told Lucy there was no reason to project to the back row.

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I really like her voice on the Let's Talk To Lucy radio show... She sounds so "together" and "with it" and dare I say kinda "sexy".

Me too. She does sound really good in these. She made a great radio host. It's lower here but sounds good and not painful.

 

I enjoy her 40's radio work partly because of her voice. Some of those Suspense episodes her voice works well. And she had a set of lungs. She could scream when needed.

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Me too. She does sound really good in these. She made a great radio host. It's lower here but sounds good and not painful.

 

I enjoy her 40's radio work partly because of her voice. Some of those Suspense episodes her voice works well. And she had a set of lungs. She could scream when needed.

She would have made a great talk show host too.

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 The voices were miked and amplified by a PA system, so I'm wondering why no director told Lucy there was no reason to project to the back row.

Dontchathin it was BECAUSE she had been doing it that way SUCCESSFULLY for years and years?  Remember the story . . . how the actress playing her older daughter started speaking normally and Lucy asked her what was the matter, to speak up, she couldn't hear her?

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Davidson/Douglas who? Restaurant what? Diner which? What are you referring to?

What's the significance of your quote "it was not painful for her to speak". Did someone ask her if it was?

I was there at a filming. The voices were miked and amplified by a PA system, so I'm wondering why no director told Lucy there was no reason to project to the back row.

 

Someone earlier in the thread said that it sounded like it was painful for Lucy to speak. Lucy said that it was not. I've only seen this interview once years ago, so I don't remember if Lucy said this in response to a question if she was in pain when she spoke. I'm pretty sure she said this on The John Davidson Show, but I thought it could possibly be The Mike Douglas Show. The restaurant/cafeteria thing was my little joke because I couldn't remember which one like when Lucy couldn't remember if her story took place in a restaurant or a cafeteria in The Inferiority Complex. 

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Very interesting topic.

Not to take anything away from the early ILL's, I like her voice much better after she stopped doing the "little girl". By the end of LDCH, it had acquired a much fuller timbre which I liked very much. "Wildcat" was done at exactly the right time for her voice. Given what came before and after, the OBC album captures her at her absolute best.

People blame Lucy's later voice on a number of things: smoking, drinking, (although I've never gotten the idea this was a real problem) the "Wildcat" strain, but the root cause as Claude pointed out could have been damage done by screaming in the convertible with Desi. I pinpoint the real transition at the 5th season of TLS. There are several episodes where she sounds like she has "larynyitis": Submarine, Drafted into Marines, John Wayne. Although I think it works fine for these episodes (and actually sounds sort of cute), her vocal chords may have been weakened at this point and the strain of projecting and trying to speak in a higher register than was natural may have caused the real damage because post 5th season, she has trouble projecting. She has a tendency to overact (like Lucy Carter's assessment of Ginger Rogers in the last scene of "Tender Comrade") to compensate. When she wasn't straining her voice, such as on talk shows, it's actually quite pleasant but she didn't try to incorporate this change into her Lucy character. It's too bad she didn't get some sort of professional vocal therapy when this was happening. I don't know how she got it into her head that she --and fellow actors--needed to PROJECT as if they were doing a stage show.

She was never able to make a lower voice work FOR her like, say the latter-day Colleen Dewhurst.

 

Also remember in a DVD release that included Lucy Show bloopers, in one done during the 5th (or maybe 4th) season, she's talking to the camera doing some sort of promo and her first word "Hi!" comes out as a laryngitis bark which she laughs off and cuts the take. This hoarse voice comes and goes during the the season. She seems to have done a lot of singing during the 4th and 5th seasons of TLS--on her show and others. IMO, this period before the hoarse-ness set in was when she sounded her best. Examples: "Wingding" "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" guest shots on "Dean Martin" "Steve Lawrence", "Some of these Days" with George Burns. "Main Street" may have been the last time she sounded good singing in that higher register. After this, when arrangements were lowered to suit her key---"Carnival Nights" in particular, she sounds wonderful but when required to sing along in the same key as Carol Burnett ("Gym Musical") she used a dubber, in that case Carole Cook.

I love Lucy's singing in those Lucy Show eposides.  I always hated her being dubbed but loved her in Carnival Nights, Making Whoppee (Here's Lucy) Leading Lady and Comedy is No Joke.  I feel that the real damage was speaker in a higher that normal range was the most important cause as well as the smoking.  I notice it by the end of the Lucy Show and especially during Here's Lucy.  It could also be a little age since Lucy ages a lot during Here's Lucy physically. 

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It's funny that even though her voice changed so much from her ILL years until she died, it was still instantly recognizable. I personally prefer her voice in the early years as I'm not fond of the low growl quality of her voice she & many other older women smokers share.  

 

In my opinion she was just an average singer (I'm going by TLS episode when she, Viv, Thelma & another Danfield volunteer firefighter sing "By the Light of the Silvery Moon"). I've always been puzzled that she was cast to play in Wildcat --  while she had superb acting skills, she didn't have a strong enough/good enough voice for Broadway. I've read she always wanted to play on Broadway, & I'm sure the producers were thrilled to have such a loved, big name to sell plenty of tickets.

 

I posted in a thread a few weeks ago that I saw Mame for the first time & that her voice was just.not.good. in many of the songs. Some folks here thought I didn't like musicals or like Lucy as Mame but that wasn't true. Her acting, energy, etc, were wonderful. Not every song she sang was awful, but the first song really had a lasting impression on me. I remember listening to her sing that first song, thinking 1.) all that screaming on set & heavy smoking had ruined her voice & 2.) if she had not been the legendary, talented Lucille Ball she NEVER would have gotten the part because of her singing voice.

 

I'm glad to hear that it wasn't uncomfortable physically for her to speak whewn she was older.

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It's funny that even though her voice changed so much from her ILL years until she died, it was still instantly recognizable. I personally prefer her voice in the early years as I'm not fond of the low growl quality of her voice she & many other older women smokers share.  

 

In my opinion she was just an average singer (I'm going by TLS episode when she, Viv, Thelma & another Danfield volunteer firefighter sing "By the Light of the Silvery Moon"). I've always been puzzled that she was cast to play in Wildcat --  while she had superb acting skills, she didn't have a strong enough/good enough voice for Broadway. I've read she always wanted to play on Broadway, & I'm sure the producers were thrilled to have such a loved, big name to sell plenty of tickets.

 

I posted in a thread a few weeks ago that I saw Mame for the first time & that her voice was just.not.good. in many of the songs. Some folks here thought I didn't like musicals or like Lucy as Mame but that wasn't true. Her acting, energy, etc, were wonderful. Not every song she sang was awful, but the first song really had a lasting impression on me. I remember listening to her sing that first song, thinking 1.) all that screaming on set & heavy smoking had ruined her voice & 2.) if she had not been the legendary, talented Lucille Ball she NEVER would have gotten the part because of her singing voice.

 

I'm glad to hear that it wasn't uncomfortable physically for her to speak whewn she was older.

You got one thing wrong, there wasn't an audition for this show called Wildcat and she went and asked to be in it, it was CREATED just for her.  She wanted to do a musical with some comedy in it and they brought this show to HER.  Loved the story of how the music writers Cy Coleman and his partner played the songs for her and she really lit up when he played Hey, Look Me Over, her eyes bugged out the whole time it played and he did the same thing.  When it was over, Lucy tells him, LET'S NOT DO THAT ANYMORE, MY EYE BALLS HURT!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L3XxI6MK8Y

 

I surprised at Lucy's voice here that she still sounds somewhat high pitch here. See   1:07:06 and 1:17:36.  What a great special.  It is so timely back then and was a great salute to their country the U.S.A. and reflects traditional views in a then hippie, youngerster world.

Lucy looked lovely, what year was that?

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