Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball would’ve turned 100 today, almost sixty years after I Love Lucy started cracking up TV viewers and never stopped. There isn’t much new to be said about Ball’s legacy: How she defined the modern sitcom, how she paved the way for every female comedy legend — from Mary Tyler Moore to Roseanne to Tina Fey — who came after her, how her show’s popularity has outlasted all its 1950s rivals (Gunsmoke,The Honeymooners) and is still a daytime TV staple around the world.
Instead, let’s let Lucy do the talking. Here’s a clip (below) from 1953′s “Lucy’s Last Birthday,” in which Lucy thinks everyone has forgotten all about her special day when, in reality, they were just planning a surprise. It’s a classic I Love Lucy reversal that leads to a classic comic set piece: Lucy interrupts Ricky’s show with a full “Friends of the Friendless” marching band to let the world know she’s been abandoned and forgotten on her birthday, delivering a hysterical woe-is-me speech addressed to the crowd — but aimed straight at her husband. Friendless, Lucy? Never.