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Real Life of Lucille Ball book review.


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This was an easy quick read over the weekend but I thought well worth it. It gets very much overlooked with all the more current bios out there. There are many passages and information that ended up in other books but I knew that going in. What I was interested in knowing is what little bits of information didn’t get pulled out over the years, what is and isn’t mentioned and the general overall tone of the book.


Lucy’s earlier life it goes through pretty fast. It does talk about her dropping out of high school, how the lack of education really bugged her (she took literature classes in the mid 40s) and why she wanted to go to NYC, her many runaway attempts are amusing and it gave a good overall sense of the drive she had to act. It does leave out a really big event though. DeDe must have been interviewed for this book as she is quoted a lot. She says that they wanted to be close to Lucy in NYC and that is why her, Fred and Grandpa moved there. True account here but DeDe says they sold his house to move. In fact we know at this time they no longer owned that home. Absolutely nothing on the shooting incident is mentioned.


I was wondering what story we were going to get for the missed years in NYC and we get the rheumatoid arthritis story with detail. So what strikes me as interesting is on the Ed Sullivan Tribute in 54’ the toastmaster mentions the car accident, but this book came out in 54’ so I’m wondering if this is when the story starts to change. The book also corrects the many years that Lucy said she was born in Butte as her saying it just sounded more glamorous.


Most of her career is glossed over through the 30s and 40s. It touches on working with Lela, the studio moves but never talks about her movies, just occasionally listing ones she did.


What it does go into really good detail of is her general philosophy on life, character traits she had and talks about the good and the bad with them. One she mentioned was that she was very sensitive to what critics said about her in reviews and I think she admitted some insecurity issues here too. This is very interesting as I really don’t think she overcame this in her life. In the book she sites these issues and also many others she had to let go of or look at in a new light. She credit Desi with so much of helping her realize these issues and overcoming them. It really is amazing how much credit she gives him for these type of life things. I have not come across this in any other books including Lucy’s own. One philosophy that Lucy talked about later in life was the idea to look at life as a chest of drawers and that you only open one at a time and deal with that. Turns out this was a philosophy of Napoleon and it is something Desi lived by and taught it to her. He said its how he can work like crazy then go away and not even think about work. This is repeated again in his book. Amazing, never heard it came from him and just another example of how much he helped her. Lucy also talks about her temper as well saying she can blow up quickly but then gets over it quickly. She said this then made her apologize for something she was ultimately right on. Desi taught her to not apologize if she was right as it put her in a position to get walked on and then she would get mad when she got walked on.


I was wondering how much she was going to discuss about the divorce in 44’ and it is talked about quite a bit. How it came about, how they reconciled and what outcome they had of it. In the Hollywood Byline radio interview she says that each spouse vows to be better in the second marriage so they decided to just do the same thing but stay together. This is the exact same story in the book too. She does mention about them both having jealousy and mistrust but also other factors that were driving them apart at this time. She said Desi described her as bossy and aggressive and eventually blamed her for everything bad that ever happened to him. She goes into great detail on her thought process of getting the divorce and that final separation was never the goal. Other sighted reasons (and I found it so crazy they ended up as plots on the show) is the dinner to get friends back together and they end up in a huge fight and the open windows and roof painting story. This book and an article I post are detailed accounts of the damage it actually did to the house. It was pretty bad and basically they had to redo floors, walls, decorations, etc.. and it took 6 months and caused a lot of frayed nerves. She came away learning that its easier to spoil a man than rule one. Also that you can’t change a man and it’s a woman’s place to change.


The ranch is talked about in great detail throughout the book. Additions to it, decoration of it, an ill attempted kitchen remodel, other redecorating, how much they loved the place, how it was not what you expect of Hollywood royalty, and it seems pretty evident even then they were going to stay there for awhile. Mentions her love of animals and confirmed they also had a pig too. Also at the time of the book they may have had 5 tv sets but only one car, a blue 1951 Cadillac sedan. They just borrowed a studio car when needed.


Lucy talks about the miscarriage complete with Winchell story and ambulance ride. She also tells another story of being with her mom one night and developing a kidney stone and her mom’s crazy driving to get her to the hospital. Lucy kept the thing and displayed it in the curio cabinet.


A couple trivia notes I picked up. She said that recently all the dogs had died but they still had one. Pinto (who is in the Red Scare press conference photo) was a girl and outlived all the other dogs. Desi got her an organ for a baby gift. There are pics of her in a photo playing this. Lucy says that they like to play duets on it. It’s pretty clear from the story she knew how to play, so I think this solves the mystery of if she knew how to play piano.


Of course the show creation is talked about. The Red Scare is covered in detail but nothing new here that we don’t already know.


They talk about the production company and also about the offshoot company that handles all the ILL merchandise. They say that Lucy wears the ILL inspired dresses on the show the company makes. So this had me confused. We know first season was most of their own wardrobe supplemented with stuff from Orbach’s Department Store. Season 3 Eloise comes on board, so this has to be part of Season 2.


Some additional character trait info. She said she hates inactivity. This goes along with her “the more you do the more you can do“ quote we have heard before. She also says that she tried to spoil her family and that it just weakened them. She said that she is trying very hard not to do that to the kids as she wanted them to be strong and independent. I think you saw this in her life.


Overall it was a very upbeat book but the candor surprised me. I thought it would just be a pretty fluff piece but it hit on some good stuff. If you can find a cheap copy pick it up.

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Obviously, I WILL NEED Title, author, year published, and any other that you can cull from same . . .


This is something I have not heard of; but, MUST, obviously, be part of the chronology....  thanks for telling us about this; and you didn't mention where you found it, did you?  I was so engrossed in reading your review, I forgot to remember that part. . . I'd go back and look; but, I've been awake since 4:a.m; and for 2 weeks have been moving someone even more elderly than I am; and I'm just PLAIN POOPED; and I ain't going to any party to POP OUT!!!!


  Loving you for for your dedication to this Lounge and our girl....JK

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