Saturday, August 6, 2016
I... Like... Lucy?
America's best-loved redhead would have been 105 today.
Lucille Ball may remain a general favorite indeed (how many other stars are still generating headlines 27 years after heading to Fabulon, after all?), but I feel obliged, however hesitantly, to reveal an inconvenient truth:
I'm not all that wild about her.
Oh, I recognize her place in both film and television history (middling and titanic, respectively); I admire her undeniable business acumen and her tenacious hold on a career that must have given her years of concern before blossoming into something perennial.
I just don't find her... terribly funny. When revisiting her as more and more became available on the YouTubes, this came as a genuine surprise. As a child, I was enraptured by her on Here's Lucy and The Lucy Show, and when I Love Lucy returned as a cult hit all over again while I was in college, I duly fell in line. More recently, though, I've tried and tried, but to no avail. When she doesn't bore, she grates.
Like many professionally comical people, she doesn't seem to have been terribly good-humored herself, and like many profoundly ambitious people, she had a core of self-centeredness that, while I can admire it in many people, in her I find somehow chilly and distancing.
It's odd, isn't it, how we all have our little lists of favorites and of not-for-us-es? I'm mad for Kay Francis, even as I can acknowledge that she wasn't exactly Duse when it came to technique, but the same kind of glossy elegance in Loretta Young curls my toes. When it comes to tenacity and humorlessness, Joan Crawford or Barbra Steisand make Lucy look like a piker, but they're very high on my short list. It's not terribly logical; in stars as in romance, the heart knows what it wants.
So here's to her, to her endless hard work and her lasting hold on the public imagination. No one can deny she was a game old girl and deserved all she got for everything she did. Just don't make me watch her antics; unless I'm in the mood for a little Vivian Vance (whom I really do continue to adore), I'll pass...