10 Aug

A Ball That Never Ends: Why We Still Love Lucy

Sixty years after it last aired, 'I Love Lucy' is still going strong with viewers of 
all ages. As we commemorate her birthday on August 6, here are a few things we’ll 
always love about Lucille Ball.

Records show that Lucille Ball was born on Aug. 6, 1911, and died on April 26, 1989, at age 77. But her fans know otherwise. The “Lucy” of I Love Lucy, the classic sitcom that ran from 1951 to 1957 and all but invented one of TV’s most durable forms, has never left us. There she is, daily on the Hallmark Channel; there she is again, streaming on Amazon, Hulu, and CBS.com, the Internet offshoot of her original network; and there she is some more, available in “ultimate” packages of crystalline high-definition Blu-rays. She’s so everywhere that Gillian Anderson, as the goddess “Media,” appeared as Lucy in the first of her many guises on Starz’s fantasy series American GodsWho Was Lucille Ball? asks one of the newest entries in the popular series of kid’s books. If your kids ask, give them several reasons why she’ll never be forgotten.

She Was Funny…

Mention “Vitameatavegamin” to someone you know and chances are they’ll get the reference to one of the show’s more famous episodes, “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” (1952). “Candy Factory,” from the same year’s “Job Switching” episode, is another of Lucy’s greatest hits, all carefully scripted, never ad-libbed. She was meticulous about her comedy.

…But She Was More Than Funny

Lucy headlined I Love LucyThe Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957-1960), The Lucy Show (1962-1968), Here’s Lucy (1968-1974), and Life with Lucy (1986). Lucille Ball, however, had a more dramatic pedigree at the movies, appearing with Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers in the Broadway adaptation Stage Door (1937), the jungle adventure Five Came Back(1939), and as a selfish, mean-spirited nightclub singer tormenting lovelorn busboy Henry Fonda (a former boyfriend of hers) in her favorite big screen credit, The Big Street (1942). Stuck as the “Queen of the Bs” (B-movies), she and husband Desi Arnaz turned to TV, and, at age 40, she found the enduring fame that had eluded her. Returning to her roots, she played it straight as a homeless person in her last TV movie, 1985’s Stone Pillow. 

Ball was the first woman to head a production company, Desilu, and after her 20-year marriage to Arnaz ended in 1960 she bought him out and continued to run it until 1967, when she sold her shares to Gulf+Western and Paramount Studios. The sale netted her $17 million. Desilu’s hits included Star TrekMission: Impossible, and The Untouchables. (One notable talent she spotted on the job was the late Robert Osborne, an aspiring actor in the early 1960s. He said she told him that he’d never be happy as a performer and encouraged him to write, and eventually he merged the two talents as Turner Classic Movies’ avuncular host.)

She Pushed the Envelope

Pregnant with their second child, Desi Arnaz, Jr., in 1952, she and Arnaz used their clout to make their “expecting,” as it was called, a plotline. CBS was skittish about her delicate condition, but her real-life pregnancy, depicted over seven episodes, was a smash with viewers. “Lucy is Enceinte” (the word “pregnant” was a no-no, so the French word was used) launched the groundbreaking arc, and an audience of 44 million tuned it to watch the finale, “Lucy Goes to the Hospital.”

She Doesn’t Scare Easily

A 400 lb.-bronze statue of Ball unveiled in her hometown of Celoron, NY, in 2009 startled the public. It also upset its artist, Dave Poulin, who as controversy mounted over the years admitted to The Hollywood Reporterthat his well-intentioned likeness was “by far my most unsettling sculpture, not befitting of Lucy’s beauty or my ability as a sculptor.” By 2015 it was clear that the gargoyle dubbed “Scary Lucy” by the press had to go, and on Ball’s 105th birthday last year another sculptor, Carolyn Palmer, replaced it with her more cheerful handiwork, which she called “New Lucy.” (But “Scary Lucy,” who has her own fan club, remains in the same park, more discreetly displayed.)

She Was Quotable

“I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”

“One of the things I learned the hard way is that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”

She Keeps on Giving

The National Comedy Center’s long-running Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is being held July 31-August 6, Ball’s birthday, in her native Jamestown, NY. Guests will include Jim Gaffigan, Robert Klein, and Lisa Lampanelli. Last year, the center’s Lucy-Desi Museum Board director, Cindy Aronson, explained her appeal. “I like what Lucie Arnaz said and I’m paraphrasing this but she said ‘my mom made a tonic that never expires. You can drink of it and always feel better.’”


10 Aug

Marilyn Monroe: Fascinating Facts About the Real Woman Behind the Legend

Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962. Fifty-five years later, we remember Marilyn 
with a look at some facts that reveal who she was beyond the glare of her celebrity.

Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962, yet she’s remained an unforgettable icon for the past 55 years and counting. However, some aspects of Monroe’s story — such as her reputation as a “dumb blonde” with little to offer beyond sex appeal, and the controversy over whether her death was suicide, an accidental overdose or something more sinister — have often overshadowed everything else. In order to better remember Marilyn, here are six fascinating facts about her life that reveal more of the real woman behind the legend.

Monroe and the Military

In the early years of World War II, Marilyn Monroe was a teenaged housewife named Norma Jeane Dougherty. During the war, she went to work in a factory that made military drones; there, she was discovered by a photographer searching for subjects to inspire the troops. Norma Jeane became a model, and went on to take risqué pin-up photos that would be hugely popular with soldiers in Korea. After she’d transformed into an actress called Marilyn Monroe, army publication Stars & Stripes dubbed her “Miss Cheesecake of 1951” as her film career was taking off.

Monroe demonstrated her gratitude to these fans by interrupting her honeymoon with second husband Joe DiMaggio to visit troops in Korea in February 1954. Her routine, which featured her onstage in a sparkling purple dress, was a huge hit; she did 10 shows in four days, despite freezing temperatures that contributed to her developing pneumonia. Monroe later noted the experience “was the best thing that ever happened to me. I never felt like a star before in my heart.”

Marilyn Monroe Photo Gallery: Marilyn performing for American servicemen in Korea in February of 1954. She and DiMaggio had just arrived in Japan for their honeymoon when she was asked to perform for the troops, which she did, much to the dismay of her new groom. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marilyn performing for American servicemen in Korea in February of 1954. She and DiMaggio had just arrived in Japan for their honeymoon when she was asked to perform for the troops.

(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Committed to her career

As she started out in the movie industry, Monroe did submit to the casting couch. However, she also worked hard by taking lessons and giving her all to the parts that came her way. To gain experience for a role in B movie Ladies of the Chorus (1948), she performed in a burlesque show under the name “Mona Monroe.” For a working-class role in the film Clash by Night (1952), she observed workers in a cannery (and apparently was offered a job beheading fish).

Monroe certainly didn’t experience overnight success — she cycled through a couple of movie studios, and saw film contracts expire. But she was always prepared to triumph in her career. At one point she told a friend, “If one hundred percent of the movie big shots in Hollywood told me I couldn’t make it to the top, I wouldn’t believe them.”

Marilyn Monroe Photo

Marilyn Monroe poses for a publicity still.

Stood up to HUAC

In 1956, while involved with Monroe, playwright Arthur Miller was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Artists who refused to reveal people who’d been involved with Communist activities could be sent to prison for contempt of Congress, but Miller refused to name names. Throughout this ordeal, Monroe remained committed to Miller — despite studio executives and acting teacher Paula Strasberg warning that her decision could expose Monroe to a public backlash that might destroy her career.

Monroe also agreed to marry Miller, even after he surprised her by announcing their wedding plans in his HUAC testimony. Her public display of loyalty likely helped keep him out of prison (Miller was given a suspended sentence for his contempt conviction in 1957; the conviction went on to be overturned in 1958). However, Monroe’s actions ended up attracting further interest: Support of Miller, combined with a request she’d made to visit the Soviet Union in 1955 (though she didn’t make the trip), prompted the FBI to open a file on her.

Marilyn Monroe Photo Gallery: She married Arthur Miller twice: the 1st time in a civil ceremony, then in a Jewish (to which she had converted) ceremony 2 days later. (Photo:  Bettmann/CORBIS)

Monroe and her husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

(Photo: Bettmann/CORBIS)

The Political Monroe

Her relationship with Miller, which ended in divorce in 1961, wasn’t the only means by which Monroe became politically aware. With Shelley Winters, a one-time roommate, Monroe attended rallies protesting the violation of civil liberties caused by anti-Communist fervor. She was once chastised for reading a “radical” biography of muckraker Lincoln Steffens on a film set. Having been raised to hold more progressive views on race, Monroe also became an advocate for civil rights.

In 1960, Monroe was elected as an alternate delegate to Connecticut’s state Democratic convention (it was a largely honorary position and she didn’t attend the gathering). She also once said to reporters, “My nightmare is the H-bomb. What’s yours?” — making it unsurprising that she got involved with the Hollywood arm of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. The FBI, which continued to keep tabs on her, noted in her file in 1962: “Subject’s views are very positively and concisely leftist; however, if she is being actively used by the Communist Party, it is not general knowledge among those working with the movement in Los Angeles.”

Fear of Losing Her Sanity

Monroe had a lifelong fear of losing her sanity, something she’d witnessed in her mother. So when Dr. Marianne Kris brought Monroe — who was taking pills, losing weight and not sleeping — to a locked and padded room in New York’s Payne Whitney Clinic in 1961, the patient reacted badly. Desperate to escape, Monroe took inspiration from one of her early films, broke a window and threatened to cut herself with a piece of glass.

This behavior led to Monroe being restrained and carried to another level of the facility, and her desperation grew. Dr. Kris didn’t visit; Monroe wrote to Lee and Paula Strasberg, her acting teachers, but they weren’t able to obtain her release. Only ex-husband DiMaggio came through, rushing to the facility when he learned what was happening: “I want my wife,” he demanded, “And if you do not release her to me, I will take this place apart — piece of wood, by piece . . . of . . . wood.” Of course, Monroe was no longer DiMaggio’s wife, but the hospital felt the most prudent course was to avoid any potential negative publicity. She was transferred to Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital, where she received treatment in a private room.

Monroe’s Generosity

Monroe was generous throughout her life, a trait that was apparent even as she spent time in institutions and foster homes. She gave an acting teacher a valuable fur coat and offered money to people in need; shopping companions would often find Monroe had sent them items she’d ostensibly purchased for herself. She was especially generous with children, and offered assistance to child-focused charities like the Milk Fund for Babies and the March of Dimes.

That same generosity continues even after Monroe’s death. Though most of Monroe’s estate went to acting coach Lee Strasberg, a portion was left to Dr. Marianne Kris; in 1980, Kris bequeathed her part of Monroe’s estate to England’s Anna Freud Centre. This organization serves children with mental health issues — given her life experiences, it’s a cause Monroe would likely be proud to support.


10 Aug

Talk Resurfaces that Obama is Buying Rancho Mirage Home

If the rumors are true, here are some property listings the president should 
explore

Old rumors that Barack and Michelle Obama are looking at property in the golf-mecca of Rancho Mirage, California, have resurfaced among realtors in the Coachella Valley.

Agents who spoke to Mansion Global couldn’t confirm that it’s a done deal, but they did say that a friend of the first family, Michael S. Smith, who lives in town, has looked into properties in Rancho Mirage in recent years. And if the Obamas were going to purchase a new pad they would likely buy it under an alias or LLC for security reasons.

Over the years, the Obamas have taken a number of trips to the desert resort city, where they’ve visited Mr. Smith, an interior designer who has decorated the Oval Office and the White House dining room, and his partner James Costos, the current ambassador to Spain.

There were once reports in 2014 (now debunked) that the Obamas bought a home in the same gated enclave as Mr. Smith, an exclusive neighborhood called Thunderbird Heights. But the rumored seven-bedroom home actually sold to a Nebraska couple, according to property records from Riverside County.

When news swirled two years ago, the White House press office denied the rumors, calling them “false.” Earlier this week, a spokeswoman said the White House had no comment.

A public relations representative for Mr. Smith did not return requests for comment.

If it turns out Mr. Obama is still in the market for a Rancho Mirage home, there’s plenty of grand and secluded properties in the neighborhood. Here’s some eye candy if you haven’t yet made your mind up, Mr. President:

PRICE: $9.75 million

BEDROOMS: 7

BATHROOMS: 9 bathrooms

SIZE: 5,744 square feet

The listing describes this house as “The Playground of Presidents,” pointing out that many celebrity parties and fundraisers have been held in the main house’s wine room. Like most other homes in the area, there’s a seamless blending of interiors and exteriors, and that exterior happens to include ponds, an infinity pool, gardens, a tennis court and more. The 2.4-acre property has a main home and two guest houses, so the Obamas would have plenty of room to entertain overnight guests who might appreciate a less formal setting than the White House.

PRICE: $12.995 million

BEDROOMS: 5

BATHROOMS: 6 full bathrooms, four half-baths

SIZE: 15,300 square feet

If the Obamas want to show off a little, this house, the most expensive currently listed for sale in Rancho Mirage would be the way to do it. The Mediterranean-style home, named Casa Bella, likely offers the right amount of privacy a former president and his family, seeing as it’s set in a guard-gated community. Built just four years ago, it’s got an elevator and five-car garage, and sits on resort-like grounds with a firepit, mosaic-tiled pool, and nine-hole putting green.

PRICE: $3.795 million

BEDROOMS: 3

BATHROOMS: 4 full bathrooms, two half-bathrooms

SIZE: 6,371  square feet

Part of the Mirada Estates gated community, this house has some seriously stunning views of the city, the desert and the valley thanks to zero obstructions. Mr. and Mrs. Obama could enjoy their master bedroom with his/her bathrooms and a gym (we figure the fitness-minded couple would appreciate that). There’s also a covered outdoor entertaining area with misters, space heaters and a kitchen. There’s a pool spa and cascading water features, which the first family will likely appreciate using 12 months a year. That sure beats Washington, D.C. or Chicago in the winter.


10 Aug

Cynthia Nixon and the city: ‘a lot of people would like me to run’ for New York governor

Sex and the City actor has criticised incumbent Andrew Cuomo’s handling of public 
education, saying gap between rich and poor has never been greater

The Sex and the City actor Cynthia Nixon has said “a lot of people” would like her to run for governor of New York, but would not say if she planned to challenge incumbent Andrew Cuomo in next year’s Democratic primary.

Appearing on NBC’s Today show on Tuesday, the actor, who is a vocal critic of Cuomo, would not answer when asked whether she planned to mount a campaign, but said she had heard “rumours” about her potential bid to unseat him.

“I think there are a lot of people who would like me to run, and I think for a variety of reasons,” she said. “But I think the number one is education. We’ve got a real problem on our hands in New York state.”

She went on to criticize Cuomo’s handling of public education, saying the gap between rich and poor schools had never been greater.

Cuomo has been mentioned as a possible White House candidate in 2020, though he says he is planning to seek a third term as governor in 2018.

Rich Azzopardi, the governor’s spokesman, noted that state funding for schools was at an all-time high under Cuomo and 70% of it went to “high-needs” schools. He extended an open invitation to Nixon to meet with Cuomo.

“The more people talking about issues that make New York state stronger, the better,” he said. “We know Ms Nixon is a passionate advocate for education and we would be happy to sit down with her any time to talk about it.”

Nixon has been active in New York City politics, particularly in education advocacy, and has supported its Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio.

Her name emerged as a potential candidate for governor last week after liberal activists said she would be a good choice.

She noted on Today that she has three children who have attended New York public schools.


10 Aug

Lauren Goodger shows off diamond ring on engagement finger – amid reports she’s split from criminal boyfriend Joey Morrison

Lauren Goodger has had a tough week of it after facing down rumours about her relationship with criminal boyfriend Joey Morrison, who is currently in jail for armed robbery.

Amid reports the couple have split, Lauren has remained silent – but she sent out a pretty strong message while meeting a friend in Essex yesterday.

Because the former TOWIE star appeared to be wearing what looked like an engagement ring on her left hand, which she wasn’t shy about showing the cameras as she walked through a car park to meet her pal.

Lauren, 30, covered up her face with a pair of oversized dark sunglasses – although the day was grey and overcast.


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