A great comedienne honored to receive good wishes from a great leader:
There are many tributes that one can offer the late great Lucille Ball, but the greatest is perhaps the simplest: she made makes us laugh.
She may have geared her humor to audiences in the 1950s, but when we watch the reruns, even though our mores have changed, her antics still delight and amuse us. We still laugh at Lucy. As Marlo Thomas put it:
And we loved her for the most basic of reasons: We trusted her. We knew if we showed up on Monday nights, she’d pay us back in laughs.
Whether she was plucking chocolates off a conveyor belt and stuffing them in her mouth, or vigorously stomping in a vat of grapes, or lighting a putty nose on fire —while it was attached to her face — Lucy’s mission was always the same: to see the laugh all the way through. She was like an Olympic gymnast, who practices tirelessly, executes to perfection and always lands on her feet.
As Roger Rabbit put it, “A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have.” Indeed. How many people found a dark day brightened by a half-hour of Lucy’s humor? (Or have he antics make a good day even better?) How many times have we turned to Lucy (or other funny folk) as a respite from the struggles of a human life?
And this woman pioneered a new means to bring laughter to millions of homes. She helped define the modern sit-com. In developing her unique brand of physical comedy, she may have drawn on vaudeville schtick, but she made it made it work for (what was then) a new medium. As she was influenced by the silent start Harold Lloyd, countless comedians (and comediennes) have been influenced by her.
The woman whom we remember for making us laugh had not set out to be a comedienne, but to be a Broadway star. Only in her late 30s, after suffering many setbacks did she realize that that was her purpose in life — to make people life — and she pursued it with passion, determination, imagination and effort. May we all such realizations and pursue them as did Lucille Ball.
It seems that whenever I hear a TV show is well-written, I learn that a number of its writers are gay. I would dare say that a number of those who helped provide the set-ups and dialogue for Lucille Ball’s pioneering physical comedy were guys like us.
The funny lady all but confirmed this in a 1980 interview from People magazine quoted in an Advocate article paying tribute yesterday to a woman one man called “the true gay icon”:
Ball was asked her thoughts on a number of subjects, including gay rights. “It’s perfectly all right with me,” she replied. “Some of the most gifted people I’ve ever met or read about are homosexual. How can you knock it?”
Because of the craziness of this past week, a visiting nephew and a visiting father, I somehow got my dates messed up. I had planned on celebrating this centennial of Lucille Ball’s birthday today, Sunday, August 6, only looking up at my calendar yesterday afternoon to realize that it was indeed, Saturday, August 6 so Sunday would be the 100th anniversary of Lucy’s birth plus one day.
In honor of that great lady, I tracked down a few videos honoring her. Here, the Gipper offers a tribute to the woman who made millions laugh.
Note how at about 0:46 into the video when Mike Wallace asks Ronald Reagan what made Lucy so special, the great man replied, “I don’t know that I can answer that. You just accepted it and reveled in it, but you didn’t try to get down and analyze what she could do. But, it just was peculiarly hers and her way. I don’t know of anyone you could compare her to.”
What a great way to appreciate a great artist. You don’t analyze how they do it; you just delight in how well they do it, that they make us laugh or cry — or just plain feel more alive and better connected to the universe and those around us.