The Death of Lucille Ball

Lucy Portrait.JPG (17060 bytes)

Lucille Ball

“I’m not funny.  What I amis brave.”

August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989

Just thinking about this woman, makes me want to light up. Sheplayed one hell of a funny lady on screen. The jury is still out regarding her parental skills, but shewas a great entertainer. My all time favorite Lucy story was told by her mega-talenteddaughter Lucie Arnaz, at the beginning of the book, Love, Lucy  “One ofmy mother’s favorite things to do, when a small group of people were involved in someordinary conversation, was to wait until one of them left the room and as soon as shereturned, blurt out convincingly, “Here she is now! Why don’tcha tell her to herface?!!”” You can almost hear Lucy’s black lunged laugh, “BWAAAAAAAhoa hoahoa hoa!”

Here’s a picture of Lucy’s first home inHollywood, which would probably go for about 1.3 million in 2013.  Notbecause of Lucy, but just because.

On Tuesday April 18th, 1989 she was at her home of ahundred years at 1000 N. Roxbury,in Beverly Hills, when she started experiencing chest pains. Her husband, GaryMorton, called the ambulance, and she was rushed to the Emergency Room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she underwent bypass surgeryfor eight hours. She received an aorta, from a 27 year old male victim of a motorcyclecrash. A big thanks for the Cedars photo’s goes to Terri Rios.

By Wednesday, 14 hours after surgery, Lucy awakened, and asked Gary Morton, “How’sthe dog doing?” Gary said, “I’m fine, thanks.” Kidding.  Sort of.  He released this quote: “Her Irisheyes are smiling.” Hollywood went buh-nanas with get well wishes. Just across the streetfrom the hospital, the Hard RockCaf� erected a sign Lucy. 

All signs were looking good for ol’ Lu, when “suddenly and withoutwarning” the aorta burst. Doctors said (no doubt, scared shitless about a lawsuit)that the rupture occurred far from where a portion of her aortic valve was replaced duringsurgery last week. Wherever it burst was irrelevant. On Wednesday the 26th ofApril 1989, at 6am, the world became Lucy-less. 
She was 77 years old.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce put flowerson her star on the Walk of Business Cards

There were threepublic memorial services scheduled around thecountry for her. One in Los Angeles, one in Chicago hosted by Irv Kupcinet which I attended,and one in New York. They were all held at 8pm on Monday, May 8th. The same timeI Love Lucy used to air on television. 

Lucy’s real funeral was private.  Gary Morton released astatement, and I’m paraphrasing, “There’s a guy with a hearse that showspeople where people are buried.  None of us want that.”

Lucy was cremated, and she was interredin the Columbarium of Radiant Dawn, at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills.  Thisis a cremation niche she chose for herself and her mother.

Nothappy with that, inMarch of 2002, Lucy�s dug her up and moved them to Jamestown, NY.  Lucyis now a tourist attraction in a place she did not want to be buried, so she cangenerate cash for her children.

Post Script: Gary Morton aka Mr. Lucy, died on March 30, 1999 in Palm Springs. Hehad remarried towards the end of his life.

The house on Roxbury Drive was unfortunately reconstructed in recent years.You can see the various stages.  So, the exterior walls and windows are inthe same place, but it’s a very different house now.  But not a differenthouse, if you know what I mean.


They even took down the famous wall that Lucy and Ethelhopped over to grab a grapefruit from Richard Widmark’s house, though they really usedLucy’s own wall. Of course I grabbed a brick. Think I’m stupid? Don’t answer that. Here’sa rare picture of the pool,in the back yard.

Trivia: Here’s the letter Ireceived from Lucy, when I wrote her a fan letter. The portrait at the top ofthis page came with it.

More: Here’s the soundstage, where the I Love Lucywas filmed.  You probably remember the episode when Lucy and Ethel take thestars homes tour.  They actually used Lucy’sreal house.

Universal Studios has a Lucy retrospective,including a model of the room where Lucy had her backgammon table set up with a viewof the yard through the window.  There was also a list pinned near the telephone, which Itried to get a picture of.  The list is entitled, “Alwaysasked Whom do I laugh at:” and the list of names follows.  I liketo think its authentic, but I doubt it.

My friend Mike works at Paramount Studios,which has consumed the old RKO/Desilu studio, but within the complex is Lucy’sold bungalow, a Lucy Building,and a Lucy park.  TomCruise’s offices are close by.  Tom Cruise has a golf cart with tintedwindows, and people are instructed NOT to look when he drives past.  TomCruise is nuts.

Just for fun, here’s a great shot of Lucy andJudy Garland.  You can smell the nicotine in this picture, can’t you? friend Mike Pare writes:

Lucie has made a second career out of bashing her Mom, including her Emmy winning special, which was overly favorable to DesiSr. without taking into account how it affected her as a woman to have the entire town know that her hubby was screwing everything around, and was drunk all the time. She doesn’t seem to realize that those were different times, and that she (Lucie) grew up with the advantages that her Mom never had. Yes, Lucy was abrasive, and “direct”, but her kindnesses towards many unfortunates and co workers and extended family were legendary, though kept quiet by herself. Interestingly, the house in Beverly Hills on Roxbury that she bought for $80,000, sold after her death for nearly$10,000,000. Henry Fonda once said when he mentioned to her that he was buying a new home, she advised him to check all the pipes, he didn’t listen, they burst, and he said”Now I know why it was Desilu” – they had dated in the 30’s and he said if he’d played his cards right it would’ve beenHenrylu!!

APRIL 2001 friends Tucker and D.Helbling send thisin:

The AFRP was a spin off of Marble Collegiate Church on lower Fifth Ave./NYC.  (Julie Nixon?? married there; the Pastor was Norman Vincent Peale “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Anyway!  Lucy was on the board of directors of the AFRP and she gave $millions to the cause of mental health.

March 2002 friend EJ Fleming:  It’s mentioned that the house sold for $10MM. It did not. It was listed after her death for $7.895MM, and because of problems with interior damage (reportedly caused by Lucy’s ghost; broken doors, windows, etc.), and a somewhat softer-than-usual real estate market in Beverly Hills, it sat for almost thirty-six months before selling for a little under $3.5MM. Almost nothing in the flats (the area of Beverly Hills below Sunset and above Santa Monica) would sell for $10MM. Even in a good market. Just thought you’d be interested.

Lucy’s last public appearance was on theinfamous Snow White Oscars show, in which she and Bob Hope introduced the talentof tomorrow, which included Ricki Lake, Tracy Nelson, Corey Feldman andChristian Slater.  I don’t care what anyone says, I think it was the bestOscars ever.  Over the top, and sparkly.

At ouroffice in Dearly Departed Tours, we have a small shrine to Lucy including ascript cover, a piece of one of the shutters off of the Roxbury house, a brickfrom the infamous wall she hopped to grab a grapefruit, and a script cover.

If you want more dish on Lucy and her terribly untalented kids, check out Desi’spage.

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