Sunday, April 26, 2009

Remembering Lucy

Twenty years ago today, Lucille Ball passed away at the age of 77. It was about a week after she had a dissecting aortic aneurysm, which led to an eight–hour operation that was considered successful, but her aorta ruptured in a second spot eight days later and she died soon after.

It's not my purpose here to dwell on the circumstances surrounding the death of one of the greatest comediennes ever to appear on American television but rather to reflect on her great talent.

So, today, I would like to share with my readers one of my all–time favorite sketches from the "I Love Lucy" TV series. I refer to Lucy's performance in "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," which first aired nearly 57 years ago — on May 5, 1952.

Lucy's fans each have their favorite episodes, and there were certainly many great ones to choose from in that landmark series. This one, in which Lucy makes a commercial for a "health" product called "Vitameatavegamin," has long been my favorite. The product is supposed to have everything in it — meat, vitamins, vegetables, minerals — and it's laced with 23% alcohol.

Watch it and enjoy Lucy's genius at physical comedy. Few, if any, could match her, and I doubt we will ever see anyone like her again.

(Incidentally, though, April 26 has been a day of significant loss for the entertainment industry. Irene Ryan, who played Granny on "The Beverly Hillbillies," died on this day in 1973. Count Basie died on April 26, 1984. Actor Broderick Crawford died two years later. Actor Mason Adams died on this date in 2005. And Jack Valenti, a long–time president of the Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA] and the creator of the MPAA's film rating system, passed away on this date two years ago.)