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In a no-frills park in Celoron, New York, where Lucille Ball grew up, there stands a four-hundred-pound bronze statue with a puss that’s been likened to Darth Vader, the demonic doll Chuckie, and Kim Hunter in her makeup.Scary Lucy, as the figure has been dubbed, bears no great resemblance to the comedienne who once hooked America with hennaed poodle bangs and balletic slapstick.The venue just broke ground; it will open next year.
, properties still very much what the industry lovingly calls “robust.” The critic Rex Reed joined her there at the complex one day in 1968, just after she’d sold to Paramount.
“In five years she had moved into Howard Hughes’ old offices,” Reed impressed readers, “and, flitting back and forth from the sets of her TV shows to the green-chintz chairs in her executive suite, had turned thirty-six soundstages and sixty-two acres of real estate losing nearly a million dollars a year into the biggest gold-mine TV-producing facility in the world.” For Lucille Ball with sky-blue eyes and red-wax candy lips, crowned with an apricot do and frocked in polka dots, was a fast-minded and hard-nosed businesswoman.
Celoron has formed a committee—consisting of an art teacher, a local artist, a village resident, the chairwoman of the county’s artists guild, and the executive director of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy—to vet the submissions of some sixty sculptors.
“I would hope that they will have a recommendation in a couple of months,” the village’s clerk-treasurer replied to me.
The administrator of the Facebook page “We Love Lucy!
Get Rid of this Statue” hoped TV Land would step in and order a respectable portrait, just as the rerun cable network had commissioned bronzes of Mary Tyler Moore for downtown Minneapolis and Elizabeth Montgomerys Samantha Stevens, for a public square in Salem.To show those lashes, you can’t just put on a lump of clay and gouge it; you have to them.This is where many portraitists fall down: they tend to be literal.” “If we go back to Salem and the witch, absolutely this same difficulty came up.“When she thinks of something,” Reed wrote, “she jots it down and sticks each message to herself on the steering wheel of her car with Scotch tape.It’s not unusual to find ten of them taped on at the end of the day.” Ball spun herself into a franchise with three more increasingly unsatisfying television series, all under the mantle of a titular character named “Lucy.” She became a member of television’s ancien régime, damning because she didn’t get it.“Ball wasn’t the first TV personality not to know when it was time to leave the stage.But she was the first woman on television to know when it was time to leave the house,” Daniel Ruth wrote for the on April 27, 1989, the day after Ball had died.In early April 2015, some six years after Scary Lucy was installed, the local paper ran a story about the village seeking funds to improve or otherwise replace the statue. The black magic of statuary is in how the fact, myth, and memory associated with its flesh-and-blood celebrity can get canned inside it.(“Drunk, Leering Lucille Ball Statue Menaces Small Village”) to NPR (“In New York, A Sculptor’s Got Some S’plaining To Do”). Spark that with controversy, and presto: Lucille Ball’s Bronze Age. Though Lucy could affect regal composure and wryness of wit, she’s obviously remembered for her physical comedy; the show’s head writer and producer, Jess Oppenheimer, called her “a wonderful combination of beauty and clown …Her hands, her feet, her knees, every cell would be doing the right thing.” Aljean Harmetz once said, adoringly, that Lucy’s laugh blended “a strangling airdale with a porpoise.” “Every once in a while,” pronounced after watching the first episode, “a new TV show comes along that fulfills, in its own particular niche, every promise of the often harassed new medium.” When Little Ricky was born, in season two, 71 percent of households with TVs tuned in.Even Ball’s FBI file, which dates to her brush with the House of Un-American Activities Committee in 1953, “seems to have been assembled by a Lucy worshiper,” a scholar notes.