THE GODDESS PROJECT: Made in Her Image
Pop Culture Series #5
An icon unlike any other that will ever be: her red hair, red lips and big eyes, are tattooed on pop culture due to the 181 episodes of “I Love Lucy”. The cover of Lucille Ball’s autobiography “Love, Lucy” (which was published posthumously) boasts that she was “The Greatest TV Star of All Time.” In the 1950s almost every single person in this country, simultaneously, watched Lucille Ball on TV. Every. Single. Week.
Hard Working Queen
Lucille Ball is often called a comic genius. But she wasn’t always seen that way. Lucy was perhaps the hardest working person in the entertainment industry. She scrounged for crumbs working as a model in NYC when she was barely 18, trying to make enough money to send back to her widowed single-mother, grandfather, little brother and cousin.
She eventually got a regular gig as a “Goldwyn Girl” in Hollywood and brought them all out to live in the small house she afforded them by working 18+ hours a day. She never stopped trying to learn something new and practicing her craft.
Ginger Roger’s mother took Lucille under her wing and got her training of every kind, in order to become a great actress. They started a theatre troupe Lucy regularly performed in, all while she was still filming B movies all day. (Lucy became known as the “B Movie Queen”.)It was on one of those B movie sets that she first met Desi, and they soon fell madly in love and eloped.
A New TV Show
10 years into Lucy and Desi’s childless marriage (due to scheduling conflicts and multiple miscarriages), Lucy had the idea to work WITH her husband on a new television show, which was a brand new format and therefore a risky career move for movie stars.
Desi had been working for years as a bandleader in clubs, always until the wee hours of morning, about which time Lucy would just be arriving at the studio’s makeup chair to get ready for a day of movie making. But what she most wanted was wee ones of her own, a family with Desi.
Luckily, her idea worked and they created the “I Love Lucy Show” which became THE most successful television show ever. (Reruns streaming at all times!) Lucille and Desi went on to buy that production company, and renamed it Desilu. Together they produced all of the other top hit TV shows of the day, as well as their two children, Little Lucy and Desi Jr.
Eventually they had thousands of people working for them, which is why she said they did the show for so long. Lucy said they had all of those employees to support.
She prided herself on making people laugh and she worked very, very hard to get to.
To call Lucy a STAR doesn’t begin to describe the magnitude of joy she spread to a great mass of people, regularly. She had a magnetism the size of the Moon. Lucy was a Heavenly body.
“Oh, everyone loved Lucy. She was Ours” my mom, one of those millions of viewers in the 1950s, recently told me. The invention of the television and Lucy’s iconic role, made her the most recognized star, ever. She belonged to the audience, she knew she had a duty- to be there, full out, and raise their Spirits by being the beautiful, admirable clown the audience needed.
“I’m not funny, what I am is brave” Lucille Ball once said.
No one else has been or will ever be, simultaneously adored by so many people. Goddess status. 70 years later, she is still an iconic Halloween costume. Impersonators as well as famous actresses are still vying to play, “Lucy”. The name Lucille, even means LIGHT, and she held the spotlight and the nation’s hearts, and still does.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
The Mayo Clinic reports that laughter is healing because laughter:
1. Stimulates the organs by supplying them with fresh oxygen.
2. Reduces stress by regulating heart rate and blood pressure.3. Improve immune system by releasing neuropeptides.
4. Relieve pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers and
5. Improve mood, personal satisfaction and self-esteem.
Comedy helps us let go, it creates a level of joy that raises our vibration, our mood lifts. If everything in the Universe is like a radio station’s frequency and the HIGHER the vibration the better you feel then JOY is way up there. Joy is even a higher vibrating frequency than LOVE.
Lucille played the character, Lucy and Desi got to play the straight man, Ricky. She had discover “Enchanted Sense of Play”, and she told him to just play the scenes out with her. In “Lucy and Desi”, Lucille explains that the main plot for the show was a way of “Looking at the RIDICULOUS side sometimes, when things are a little rough.”
In the documentary, “Lucy and Desi”, directed by modern comic writer and comediene, Amy Poeller, Lucille Ball’s brother says that Lucy got her take charge personality from her mother. Not only did Lucille insist on Desi and her keeping there monies separate when they were first together, but she was also the first woman to run a production company.
Another thing that stood out about the show featured positive female friendship of Lucy and Ethel (Vivian Vance) and the first pregnancy shown on TV. Lucy was 40 when she gave birth to their first child, and insisted her pregnancy with her second child be written into the show. They did 41 shows in 41 weeks, on the 7th day she got to spend time with her children.
Lucille and Vivian went on to spread their empowered female friendship in a later sit com they starred in, both as single mothers, in “The Lucy Show”.
Lucille Ball took many up-and-coming performers under her own wing, including: Carol Burnett, Bette Midler, Joan Rivers and Mary Tyler Moore. She paved the way for women producers like Oprah Winfrey, Tina Fey and Ellen Degeneres. (Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Bob Hope all got to work with Lucy and called HER the best in the business.)
Lucy never thought twice about proudly boasting her multicultural marriage to the World, she was just in love. And the whole country accepted it. “We fell in love with Lucy and Desi. When you’re watching them, it isn’t race you’re thinking about. And so that capacity exists and there’s a giant human lesson, I would think, in that” said Norman Lear, TV writer.She said that the audience could always tell authenticity and that it was important that they were an actual married couple.It was an honor to get to briefly portray Lucy and read and hear both Lucille and Desi’s autobiographies. They were always a part of my life growing up, but I never thought much of it. I’d just watch a rerun midmorning in the Summers and go about my day. They just felt like friends or family you checked in with.
I chose to dress at Lucy last Spring when my husband and I were recently invited to attend a Hollywood themed fundraising event. It was Hollywood athemed and I was trying to think of a Hollywood COUPLE we could go as, and that’s when I thought of Lucy and Ricky.It wasn’t until I’d volunteered to help with this fundraising event that I learned that the establishment where the party was to be held had a dodgy past. Up until VERY recently, they had refused to employ or even serve, people of color. This disgusting truth was SO SHOCKING to me that I of course didn’t want to go, but I was supposed to help.
So, I chose to attend the shindig anyway with my Japanese-American husband but wanted to make the biggest splash by being THE most successful Hollywood couple EVER, that just happened to also be being a mixed race couple as well- Lucy and Desi. (Fun fact: Due to inclement weather, the event wasn’t held at that nasty establishment after all!)
Nothing could have prepared us for the adoration we received by being dressed as the TV stars. People immediately started swooning at our appearances (and we don’t even look that much like them!) The party guests and servers were taking our pictures and coming up and talking to us. Even people not attending the party were amused. Our costumed likenesses awakened an innocent joy in those people and it was an incredibly, lovely feeling. Even my husband who is often shy, loved every minute of this other-worldy outpouring of Love and delight.
In preparing to portray Lucy and Desi and later when I decided to write this article, I found interesting parallels between that couple and my own marriage. Beyond both couples being multiple races- I had began, a year earlier, to film a family-friendly TV (youtube) show starring my husband and myself.
I started our show: “The Kiki and CoCo Show”, like Lucille in hopes, with our busy schedules, that maybe we too, could spend more time together while making people happier. Like Lucy and Desi, my husband and I play very easily off of each other, there’s nothing like it. In every Goddess portrayed in the Goddess Project: Made in Her Image, there has been at least a moment of metaphysical, unexplained magic and I was lucky I got to touch a little of the starlight love that is Lucy.
Thank you to Mary McGrew and Michelle Alford for the wig and costumes. For more on The Goddess Project: Made in Her Image go to FreeSophia.com
“The more things you do, the more you CAN do.” -Lucille Ball