Luvsbway Posted July 23, 2015 Report Share Posted July 23, 2015 LUCILLE BALL AND HER FELLA ARE ALL SUGAR 'N SPICE, ALL LOVING HEART AND LATIN FIRE. WHICH, WHEN YOU COME DOWN TO IT, IS WHAT MAKES A MARRIAGE SUCH A HECK OF A LOT OF FUNI By Jean Kinkead They were sitting around the big comfortable living room in Lucille Ball's ranch house. Lucille and her mom and her niece, Pamela. Pammy, aged two- and-one-half, was playing the piano. Fortissimo. And singing. "Real talent there," Mrs. Ball said. "That's music." "It really is," Lucille said seriously, and a minute later she was giggling. "Relatives!" she grinned. "They're wonderful. Imagine anything that small with talent." Sweet faced Desiree Ball bristled. "You had it at three," she told her severely. Lucille fluffed out her lovely long red hair. "Me," she said, in her make-believe conceited voice (actually there are few actresses less impressed with themselves), "that's different." Aged three, so the story goes, Lucille was reciting nursery rhymes with gestures and great aplomb. She never had to be wheedled, and her memory was so prodigious that she could learn one in the wink of an eye and never, never forget it. That was the beginning. In time there were school plays, and Lucille would be on a million committees. Props, makeup, costumes, scenery. After a while, Mrs. Ball just stopped apologizing for the lack of chairs and lamps and portieres around the house, for an occasional abstinence from powder and lipstick. "They're doing a play," she’d announce, and everyone — knowing Lucy — understood. In their spare moments, Lucille, her sister Cleo, and their brother Fred converted the chicken house into a little theater. They considered it quite plush, but it was still pretty chickeny on a hot night. "Why don't you charge pins?" Mrs. Ball had suggested on the eve of their gala opening. "Pins!" Lucille gasped, looking at her mother wild-eyed. "What in the world would we do with pins?" They charged ten cents admission, and with the proceeds they sent to Samuel French's in New York for more plays, and they bought great big exciting jars of rouge and cold cream and large supplies of dead white powder. junior genius . . . Lucille was sort of the Orson Welles of the group. She directed, produced and starred in all the plays, and frequently wrote the scripts. These invariably included two unsavory female characters, Sassafrassa and Consuelo; the former a flirt, patterned after Clara Bow, and the latter a lady bandit. The role of Sassafrassa was the plum, and no one but Lucille had a prayer of ever getting it. Lucy grew from a round-faced little kid to a tall, slim, glamorous gal, and everyone in her home town of Jamestown, N. Y., just knew she'd be a famous actress some day. So to hasten things up, she went to New York City and enrolled in John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School. And that was a soul-searing experience. Most of the girls were smooth New York numbers. They all seemed to know each other. And Lucille, who had bounce and fire and honesty, but not one whit of sophistication, felt ill at ease for the first time in her life. Lucille took eccentric dancing, diction, piano and makeup, and she knew she should have been reveling in it, but she wasn't at all. "Maybe I've gotten the whole thing out of my system," she used to think, and after a few miserable months she went home and got a job in a hamburger hut. She was pretty and gay and quick on the comebacks, and she sold hamburgers like crazy. "At this I'm good," she told herself, trying to be happy about it, trying to push her little-girl dreams back where they belonged. She was doing all right, until one day she ran into Bernard Drake, her old high school principal. "What's the big idea — letting Jamestown down?" he said. "Lucy, you're our star — don't you remember?" "Why, sure I do," Lucille told him, wanting to cry. "I'd almost forgotten." After that she worked in little theater groups a while, then she went back to New York and got a job as a show girl in "Rio Rita." Then she sold coats and dresses at Stern's. And after that she became a model. She modelled clothes at Hattie Carnegie's, she was a cover girl, and once she was a Chesterfield girl. Columbia Pictures saw the ad and hired her for "Roman Scandals." She called the family and they were ecstatic. "I'll send for you all," she promised. "Maybe next week." That wasn't exactly how it worked out. She was washed up at Columbia quite promptly, and then there was nothing for her to do and no money to get her home. By some miracle, she met Ginger Rogers, and Ginger gave her some advice. good fairy-ginger . . . "Mother has a Little Theater group," she told her, "and she's always looking for really ambitious, hard-working kids. Why don't you go over to the RKO lot and see her?' Lucille did, and when RKO gave Lucy a contract, it was hard to tell who was more pleased, Leila Rogers or Lucille. Lucy called home and informed the family. Come on out," she told her mom. "I'm no Crawford or Shearer, but I've got a job, and we'll be together again." They came, by bus, and the reunion was wonderful, and for at least an hour everyone was awfully polite to each other. "You look perfectly fine, dear," and all that business. Then at last Desiree looked at Lucille sharply. "Why are you sitting on the edge of your chair? Relax." Lucille eased back gingerly. "You still look as if you were sitting in a hornet's nest her mother said. "What's the matter? So Lucille told the grim story of her first day before the cameras. The script called for her to walk across a floor which Lily Pons (in the movie, of course) had maliciously waxed. She was to do a split, then pick herself up and keep walking. Someone fouled everything up by actually waxing the floor, and when Lucille did the split, she threw her hip out. She told it lightly, but when she was finished no one was laughing. "Why, you poor little kid," mom said, and Lucille, who through many lonely months had taught herself to be tough and independent, felt warm and cherished inside. The hip wasn't right for six long months, and even today, when she's tired, it acts up. She did twenty-five pictures in seven years for RKO, thus earning her the by now famous title, "The Queen of the B's " She was getting better and better. You could almost see the improvement from picture to picture. When she'd been with RKO five years two world-shaking thing happened to Lucille. The first was her meeting with Harriet, her treasured personal maid without whom she simply couldn't operate. Harriet applied for a maid's job over the "Help Thy Neighbor" radio program, and Lucille hired her. They are completely devoted to each other, and Harriet's loyalty to Lucille is matched only by Lucille's to Harriet. "She's not a character or anything," Lucille explains to people earnestly. "She's, well, he's my friend."strictly sentimental . . . The second big thing that year was her meeting with Desi Arnaz, the very first day they both started work in "Too Many Girls." She came home and told her mother, "He's terribly cute, but you can't under- stand a word he says." Which was not necessarily so. They went around together for four months and when — on a personal appearance tour East — Desi asked her that sixty-four dollar question, she understood him perfectly. They dashed up to Greenwich, Conn., to be married, in their excitement forgetting all about a ring. Desi got one at the five-and-ten ("Just for now, baby: we'll get a good one tomorrow") and it turns her finger Kelly green, but she wouldn't take it off for one million dollars. Not Lucy, who's as sentimental as a Stephen Foster ballad, but in a strictly hard-boiled way. Desi has since gotten her a lovely wedding ring, but it plays second fiddle to the dime store job. She wears the fancy one as a guard. They had a three- week honeymoon at the Pierre in New York, then they went home and lived in Lucille's apartment for three days. After that they went house hunting, and on the first morning, they found their house. And it was so obviously theirs that they could hardly believe it. "I want a snug low house," Lucille had said. "So do I," Desi had agreed. "Set on a piece of land that's bald and new, so that all the grass and trees and flowers we plant will be ours." "I want that too," Lucille had told him. "Exactly that." And this was it. They looked at each other — one of those deep, eloquent looks — and the house was sold. They still live there, surrounded by fruit trees and field flowers, by vegetables, chickens and dogs. You wouldn't think it to look at them, that tall, glamorous redhead and her good looking Latin guy, but they're as home-loving as a couple of tabbies. Their ranch is their kingdom, and when they're away from it, they pine. "I think I'll call up George," Lucille will say, "and see how the dogs are." (George Barker is half of the wonderful couple they have to look after the place.) In a few minutes she'll have him on the line, and he'll give her the local headlines, which Lucy in turn relays to Desi. "Tommy, Pinto and Dandy are fine." (Those are the cockers.) "But dopey Toy has indigestion. He ate a can of sardines." Toy is the fox terrier. No current blights on the garden. The pigs on the next farm got loose, but they've all been recovered. Big news, all of this, for the Arnaz's. home is the heart . . . Their house is just exactly the way they are, informal, comfortable, unpretentious. Out in the garden they have built a one-room, Cuban-style house called the "bohio" which has a fieldstone foundation and lattice sides. It's decorated with fishnets and shells, and it's where they give their better-than-Elsa parties. Practically anything is an excuse for a party with those two, but birthday parties — those are the killer-dillers. They are supposed to be surprises, and the first few really were. When they were still practically bride- and-groom, Desi planned one for Lucille. He even dreamed up a place for her to go the evening of the party, while he got everything in shape and the guests assembled. What he did not anticipate was that Lucy would get involved in a shopping tour, and that she'd have to stop off for a leisurely malted. When she finally appeared around ten, the guests were on the verge of going home. Now they've both learned that a birthday almost surely means a party, and the one who's supposed to be surprised is just as excited beforehand as the one who's planning it. They adore costume parties, especially old-fashioned bathing suit and baby ones, and everyone comes. Even Lionel Barrymore, who hates parties, and sweet Susan Peters, who doesn't go many places since her accident. Probably the best parties of all are the spur-of-the-moment ones of a Sunday morning. With the Barkers out and Harriet visiting, Lucille takes over the kitchen, dishes up ham and eggs country style, french fries and biscuits and honey. Desi, the handsome waiter in a loud shirt and slacks, waggles a thumb in the direction of the kitchen. "She looks good, she sings good — and she can cook, too," he brags. They all dry the dishes afterwards, Lucille having the washing concession all sewn up. Desi will never forget the day she had a holiday from the studio. He left her that morning propped up on pillows in their mammoth six-by-eight bed, with a big bowl of fruit on one side of her and a biography of Bach on the other. She promised him she was going to do nothing all day. And when he came home he found her in slacks and a shirt doing something she refers to as "tearing up the house." "You were going to rest," he said. "What's the deal?" "Oh, I did a little dusting and one thing led to another. Your drawers are all straight, and your closets and books." "Why do you do things like this? You're just not quite bright, I guess." "I had fun." She turned her cute smudged face his way, and he grinned. The columnists refer to their marriage as tempestuous, but the Arnaz's learned long ago to ignore the columns. They know what they have, and they like it. Desi's so proud of the fact that Lucy's an M-G-M star now, he could pop. Lucille, on her recent trip East, practically hung out at the Copacabana listening to Desi's rhumba band. He liked to see her, arid just so she'd know he was glad she was there, he'd serenade her with her beloved "Cumbachero." He's had offers to take his band abroad — to London and Paris and Monte Carlo — and Lucille's thrilled for him, but when she think's no one's listening, she says to him in a small, silly, wife-to-husband voice. "But you won't go without me, will you? Not without me." You don't need proof of the fact that each thinks the other is pretty divine when you see them together. And then there's the simple fact that Lucille has embraced Desi's religion, and they'll be married again in a church in Cuba pretty soon. Their tastes are very much the same, except that Desi is mad for Latin music and Lucille's first love is classical stuff. They both love Spanish food and double features and fishing. They like horseback riding and skeet shooting and long, long drives with the top down. Lucille sits quietly when Desi is at the wheel, but he's a frightful backseat driver. It's just as if Lucy had her two eyes shut tight. "Here comes a curve," he announces. "Easy now, red light ahead." It kills Lucille, who is a very good and careful driver. Lucille and Desi each have their own fans, of course, but their favorites are the kids who love them both. Of these, just about their pet is Sally Kaplan. The Arnaz's are her hobby, and she has wonderful scrapbooks of all their pictures. She's a sweet, gentle kid whose criticisms are adult and helpful, whose praise is genuine and ungooey. "If all the fans were like Sally," Lucille says to Desi, "life would be beautiful." Desi says, "Life is kinda beautiful anyway." And Lucy thinks maybe he's right. - 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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