Ah, it's another antic Sunday night out there in TVland (whatever day of the week it is here in these lower realms), and I thought it might be fun to look in on an encounter with today's birthday girl, 103 today.
Lucille Ball is still early enough on, in this 1954 appearance, in her great TV success to be visibly reveling in it, and while later on she occasionally got a little grand, here she's great fun. She got to where she was - the most popular woman on television, at the start of a very long run at the top - by dint of more than two decades of slogging in the outer fringes and second tier of the show business, and once she got in, she was in as few before or since.
And that you don't get just by being all sweetness and light and daffy Martian voices. Lucy was tough, and business-like, and focused on keeping what she's worked so hard to get. But when she was good, few were ever better. Watch the expression on guest panelist Deborah Kerr's face as she takes off her blindfold: Hollywood, movie division, regards that new phenomenon, Hollywood, small-screen division, with a funny mix of amusement and awe.
And however hard-nosed she was as a star and an executive - I really do rather like that, all that aside, she picked that hat. And wore it. On purpose. You can take the girl out of Jamestown, New York (not all that far from where, probably, on that February night in '54, the parents and grandparents were watching her), but - well, you know the rest.
And did you notice that in the midst of all that, she slipped in a naughty word? Someone was listening to Desi back home, at least every now and then...