I’ve been a fan of Lucille Ball since I was a kid. I remember watching episode after episode of I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite (when it actually showed classic television, that is …) and laughing constantly. Even if it was an episode I’d seen a dozen times, it still felt fresh and funny and new. And years later, I still laugh like it’s the first time.
About six years ago, I finally started making my way through Lucy’s filmography. I had only seen one of her films–1937’s Stage Door–and had no idea how extensive her film career actually was until I read a biographical article about the star. Obviously, I thought, I didn’t know as much about my beloved Lucy as I liked to think I did!
It was at that point that I began trying to find–and subsequently devour–every bit of information I could gather about the comedienne. Over the years, I’ve read some great biographies and histories of Lucy and Desi, and I’ve seen some documentaries that reveal new insights into Lucy’s life and career. Here are my recommendations for some interesting and informative resources about our favorite redhead!
On the bookshelf:
The Lucy Book. Geoffrey Mark Fidelman. Renaissance Books, 1999.
A compendium of every Lucille Ball television appearance, The Lucy Book provides unprecedented coverage of her five decades on the small screen. This is THE source for information about all four of Lucy’s television series, as well as her guest appearances on other programs. Fascinating material, written in an engaging and informative style–a must for all Lucy fanatics!
Lucy at the Movies: The Complete Films of Lucille Ball. Cindy de la Hoz. Running Press, 2007.
What The Lucy Book did for Ball’s television career, Lucy at the Movies does for her filmography. Author de la Hoz has put together a simply beautiful coffee table book showcasing Lucy’s celluloid career. The good, the bad, and the forgettable … they’re all discussed here, accompanied by gorgeous photographs and screencaps from the various movies. A great introduction to Lucy’s 80+ film roles!
Love, Lucy. Lucille Ball. Berkley, 1997.
Lucy in her own words. This autobiography was discovered among Ball’s personal papers after her 1989 death. Her children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., chose to publish the book a few years later, titling it with the same phrase with which Lucy signed most of her autographs over the years: “Love, Lucy.” An intriguing glimpse inside Lucy’s world and her sometimes complex personality, with some entertaining and thought-provoking recollections of her career.
I Love Lucy: The Complete Picture History of the Most Popular TV Show Ever. Michael McClay. Warner Books, 1998.
As the title suggests, the book aims to provide a comprehensive examination of Ball’s first television series. McClay, whose father was Ball’s longtime publicist, has compiled rare behind-the-scenes photographs of the show’s production. The book provides in-depth descriptions of several of the most popular episodes from the series’ run as well as a brief guide to every episode. A great addition to any self-described Lucy-phile’s library!
On the screen:
Finding Lucy. VHS. PBS, American Masters, 2000.
This PBS special provides a heartfelt and touching look back at Lucille Ball’s impact on the entertainment world, particularly focusing on the influence of I Love Lucy. Featuring interviews from TCM stalwart Robert Osborne, comedienne Fran Drescher, and other admirers, this documentary brings Lucy back to life, highlighting the warmth and perfect comedic timing that mark her best on-screen performances.
Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie. DVD, 2009.
Originally broadcast on television only three years after Lucy’s death, this special, hosted by Lucie Arnaz, goes behind-the-scenes of her famous parents’ marriage. Features private home movies of the Arnaz-Ball family, accompanied by commentary from those who knew the couple best, including Lucy’s beloved brother, Fred Ball, and four of her trusted writers from the I Love Lucy days (and beyond): the Bobs (Schiller, Weiskopf, and Carroll, Jr.) and “girl writer” Madelyn Pugh-Davis.
Tell me: are there any books or films that you recommend for Lucy-philes?