This year's convention theme was "Top Hats and Baggy Pants". As quoted from the convention brochure, Lucille Ball felt at home in both. She could dance in top hat and tuxedo one minute and take a pie in the face the next. She was champagne and soda pop, caviar and peanuts -- often in the very same show.
I arrived in California on Wednesday, the eighth of July. I met a friend and we hung out together all that day. The next day, Thursday, I checked into the Burbank Hilton, then rented a car and went on my way to "check out some places" on my own. My first stop - Hollywood Boulevard where I had to take a picture of Lucy's movie star, AGAIN!
Then I went to Paramount Pictures and took the last tour of the day. Unfortunately, most live attractions, like seeing things being filmed or being able to go onto any sound stages was not possible by this late time of the day. I did manage to get a little ole' picture of Lucy's dressing room on the lot near the building where "I Love Lucy" was filmed. It's the doorway with the awning over it. Just in front of this doorway there is Lucille Ball Park. And at the foot of the park is the Lucille Ball Building. If you look closely at the picture again, you will see the reflection in the doorway of the dressing room across the park. This is all inside the Paramount lot. Another interesting thing pointed out to the tour was a tree and fish pond that Desi and Lucy planted and put up when they bought the studio lot in 1957. It's the best picture I can get considering it now sits behind a garbage dumpster. The tour continued on into the prop department, and low and behold, our tour guide pointed out, hanging on the wall was the painting that hung over the piano in the Ricardo living room on I Love Lucy. Like a dummy, I obeyed the NO PICTURES rule inside this prop palace. In case anyone cares, I happened to get a picture of the bench that Forrest Gump sat on in the "box of chocolates" scene. And uh, oh, that's me sitting on it! On the way out of the tour, and driving up Gower St., I took a picture of the entrance at 780 Gower St. that was the entrance to the Desilu Studios.
On Friday, the bus tours were the first attraction of the convention. The first tour I went on was at 10:00 am - the Hollywood tour (bus A). Naturally, one of the first sites the bus stopped and let us off was at Lucy's tv star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Uh, that's me hamming -(I mean sitting) with her star. I was never able to find this star before. I only kept finding her movie star. Well, I took lots of pics of different places we saw, but don't feel like scanning them all. Some of the highlights were: The Hollywood Bowl, The Hollywood Magic Store (where Lucy Ricardo bought the masks of the stars for her party to impress Carolyn in the Harpo Marx episode), Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel (where Bill Frawley was a resident for many years), the spot where The Brown Derby restaurant was (it burned down in 1988), the lot that used to be RKO Pictures (Lucy & Desi bought it for $6 million) and now is Paramount, Motion Picture Center (the best years of "I Love Lucy" were filmed here until Desilu moved to RKO in 1957), Desilu Playhouse ("I Love Lucy's" first home), The Pan Pacific Auditorium, The Goldwyn Lot, Schwab's Drugstore (or-where it used to be), Ciro's (one of the all-time great Hollywood nightclubs), the Mocambo (Desi surprised Lucy with a 13th wedding anniversary party here on Nov. 30, 1953 - so if you couldn't get reservations that night, that's why!), Cafe Tracadero (Lucille had a date with designer, Bernard Newman) and the Don Loper Salon (need I tell you?).
The second tour was at 1:00 (bus B) The Beverly Hills tour. Some of the fascinating places to see here was Lucy's (what used to be Lucy's) first home in California at 1334 North Ogden Drive, Los Angeles, The Chinese Theatre, where we also saw another old friend, and this office building at 9200 Sunset Blvd where Lucille Ball Productions were. The best attraction though was the addition of Lucy and Ethel on the bus. They did bit re-inactments of the Chocolate factory stuff and the footprint stealing from the Chinese Theatre. They also sang the song "I'm an Old Cowhand".
Friday night's opening ceremonies again, held at the beautiful Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre at the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood started off with an opening vignette called "Ive Got a Secret". Lucille Ball pays a visit to one of the most popular game shows of all time -- and stumps the panel (well, almost). Hosted by Gary Moore, panel included Betsy Palmer, Bess Myerson, Henry Morgan and guest Johnny Carson. Originally broadcast on CBS in January, 1961, while Lucy was in New York starring in "Wildcat". Then the opening Montage: "The Way You Look Tonight" and then opening remarks by Tom Watson. Then they showed a Danny Thomas episode of "Make Room for Granddaddy" called "Lucy and the Letcher" originally telecast on ABC TV January 21, 1971. Then came the salute to Mary Jane Croft via still photos, film and sound clips. Included were glimpses of Ms. Croft's appearances with Eve Arden on "Our Miss Brooks" and Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. After intermission, they showed "CBS Salutes Lucy: The First 25 Years", an all-star documentary special that combined all the great moments from her various television series and specials in one two-hour program. Then it was beddy-by for Gonzo (Glen was exhausted!)
I missed the first panel discussion called "Putting It Together". Writers Bob Carroll, Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Davis, film editor Dann Cahn, directors William Asher and Maury Thompson, stage manager Herb Browar, and hair stylist Irma Kusely reminisce about the start of "I Love Lucy" and the early days of the Lucy Legend. I missed that one!
I got to bum around a bit before the second panel discussion and got some pictures of the convention hall. Here's a nice picture of Mike Elliott and Cathy of Cathy's Closet. Uh, Mike's the one with the mustache and Cathy's the pretty one! Also, Jimmy Garrett (Jerry Carmichael) had some goodies from his collection (including the baseball he had signed in the Marineland episode of The Lucy Show) there in a showcase.
The second panel discussion was called "The Lucy We Loved". Actors Jimmy Garrett, Ralph Hart, Candy Moore, Keith Andes and producer Tommy Thompson reminisce about working with Lucy. Also making an appearance as a surprise to the 3 Lucy "kids" was Stan and Barry Livingston - Chip & Ernie Douglas from "My Three Sons" which filmed on the sound stage right next to where "The Lucy Show" filmed. The "kids" got very close during the time they were there. And also, Dick Martin was on hand as an added bonus. My pictures of the panels never come out. Maybe someone who got good pics could send me some (maybe list members Tammy (l) or Eva (r) could help). Hint, hint!!
The auction was awesome!!! I finally found the first issue of TV Guide I was searching for. I had others available but I guess I was holding out for a good price. $600. was the price I was holding for, I guess. Other sale items included three original costume sketches by Elois Jenssen, a place-setting of Chinaware originally used on "I Love Lucy" that sold for a whopping $3700, a blue-print of the floor plan for the "I Love Lucy" episode "LA At Last", a script or two or three, and many others. See a sample of stuff. In the middle pic, if ya look closely, you can see the #1 TV guide with baby Desi Jr. on it.
"Gosh, everybody seems to clean up pretty well". The Dinner Banquet was next. The list gang got to sit together once more with the help of... well, I won't brag! Here we are! (a captioned photo). The ballroom was decked out in Top Hat style motif called The Top Hat Club, reminiscent of a 1940's nightspot, complete with entertainment by Johnny Crawford and His Dance Orchestra. The dinner consisted of a starter salad and bread rolls, Aroz Con Pollo (Desi's favorite- chicken and rice), and for dessert, a chocolate cake of some kind with chocolate truffles being handed out too. The floor show was wonderful. Suzanne LaRusch as Lucy did a fab job as usual. They also had a couple who did a medley of songs that Fred and Ethel did on several "I Love Lucy's". They didn't look like Fred and Ethel but they sure had all their moves down pat. After the show, there was more music and swing dancing. I got a picture taken of me and Ethel from the bus tours and me with Kasey Rogers. She did, I think, 3 episodes of "The Lucy Show" (not sure) but she is better known as Louise Tate of "Bewitched" fame.
Sunday morning started out with a religious Celebration which I can't tell you anything about cause it's a secret. No, really - I don't get up that early and didn't attend so I figured it was just a... well, a religious Celebration!!!
At 9:15am started the Continental Breakfast and Fan Club Meeting. Activities included "networking" with fellow fans and a special "Lucy Fans Are Fabulous" trivia game hosted by Larry Anderson of "Life With Lucy". The way this trivia game is played is - everyone at their tables has 3 strips of cards. Three different colors. A blue, a yellow and a green. There are corresponding posters on the wall behind the podium with large letters "A", "B", and "C". When a multiple choice question is asked, you decide which letter is the answer and on cue and immediately, hold up the strip of the corresponding color. The correct answer is then given. If you are holding up the wrong color, you have to throw your color markers into the center of the table and you are out of the game. The hundred or so people who played were weedled down to 10 finalists. List members Eric, Terra, Breck, Tammy and Eva (I believe) were in the finalists. Then the finalists had to answer questions one by one and they too, were weedled down to one grand prize winner. And I am happy to report, that our very own list member, Terra was the first prize winner.
...And last but not least... what can I say about "Lucy's First Sitcom: A 50th Anniversary Reunion"? Live, on stage, we saw a reinactment of a few episodes of "My Favorite Husband", the radio show that Lucy starred in before "I Love Lucy". For me, this was the highlight of the entire weekend. I had so much fun watching this. And of course as you've heard, this event was to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Each person was given a wonderful program when they entered. Suzanne LaRusch was Lucy (of course) and Dwayne Hickman (Dobie Gillis) as George Cooper. Others in the cast were Bob LeMond as the announcer, Janet Waldo, Shirley Mitchell, Doris Singleton, Roz and Marilyn Borden (Teensey & Weensey), Sandra Gould, Peggy Rea, and Tony Dow (Wally Cleaver of "Leave It To Beaver"). He signed my program book. The whole show was done with commercials as they were done on the radio. They had three singers come up at commercial time and sing the "Jello" jingle right into the microphone. Unfortunately, again, my pictures of shows don't come out that great but I did manage to capture a good picture of the empty stage and a bit of the script-reading action. In that bottom picture - left to right is Dwayne Hickman, Suzanne LaRusch, and Tony Dow.
Glen Charlow (email@example.com)
For more Convention pictures, please check out Eva's Convention pictures.