“Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: hard work – and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.”
If you clicked over to Google yesterday, then you probably have a pretty good idea of why I decided to switch up my planned blog posts and go with this one instead. If not, I’ll fill you in: August 6th is Lucille Ball’s birthday, and yesterday would have been her 100th. Television stations and websites are paying tribute to the actress extraordinaire all weekend, celebrating her life and pioneering vision, and as a huge fan (I even included her in two of my novels!), I couldn’t not follow suit. I’ve already written about her and the lasting impact she’ll have on American culture, so today, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my favorite I Love Lucy moments. I’d love if y’all would post some of your most-loved ones, too.
#1: First Stop – Favorite. Episode. Ever. No exaggeration, I’ve seen this at least fifteen times, and it never fails to make me literally laugh out loud. That’s the magic of Lucy, of this show, I think. It’s timeless. Iconic. All-encompassing. It makes the old new again. It brings a sense of familiarity and comfort, works its way into the soul and spirit. No matter what else is going on, it’s an escape into this world of humor, hijinks, and happiness. For me, this episode exemplifies that. When exhaustion sets in after a long, long, loooong day of driving to California, the Ricardos and Mertzes stop at a run-down, in-the-middle-of-nowhere cafe for dinner. The meal turns out to be less than gourmet – cheese sandwiches that aren’t exactly fresh – and they decide to leave. And, of course, Lucy – being Lucy – accidentally lands them right back where they began after she offers to drive. That’s not so great for Ricky, Ethel, and Fred, but wonderful for viewers. The cafe and one-room motel are directly next to the train tracks, and when one roars by, making the beds jump across the room and Lucy cling to Ricky as if for dear life, it is truly priceless. If I had to choose one scene from the show’s entire run as my favorite, that’d be it. I could watch it fifty times in a row and laugh every single time.
#2: L.A., At Last – How can you not love an episode where Lucy manages to both twirl an entire plateful of spaghetti around her fork and set a makeup-created nose on fire? The episode is fantastic from beginning to end, but my personal favorite part is when Lucy, Ethel, and Fred go to lunch at Hollywood’s Brown Derby. Their reaction to all the celebrities is endearing, William Holden turning the tables on them is amusing, and Lucy’s attempts to work her way out of another what-did-I-get-myself-into situation is, as always, deeply entertaining. That’s a thread that runs throughout not only every episode of the hit show, but Lucille’s subsequent work, too. She didn’t just make us smile. She didn’t just make us laugh. She made us feel. She made us live in the moment with her and absorb every drop of the entertainment she so flawlessly provided.
#3: The Freezer – When Lucy and Ethel buy two sides of beef, they think they’re getting a great deal. They think it’ll be the perfect way to celebrate the new walk-in freezer they bought. And then the meat’s delivered. And delivered. And delivered. As more and more is brought in, their reactions simultaneously become more panicky and hilarious. Lucy’s plan to set up shop at a butcher’s, selling the meat for a cheaper price, is pure comedic gold. And when she accidentally locks herself in the freezer later on? It’s one of those times that will forever be part of the show’s rich, layered history.
#4: Lucy is Enceinte – That final scene at Ricky’s club, when Lucy asks him to sing “We’re Having a Baby” and then tells him the song is for them … it’s no wonder it’s become one of the most loved scenes of the show’s entire run. There’s something very special about it, something almost magical. It feels like we’re being invited in to share this life-changing miracle with the Ricardos. We don’t just witness their bliss. We feel it, too. We share in their joy and celebrate their blessing. Knowing that it was more than just “reel life” for them, that Lucille was in fact pregnant with their own little boy, just adds to the poignancy. It’s a true fairytale moment.
These are only a select few of my favorites. Truly, I could go on and on. Other standout episodes include: Lucy writing a novel (no surprise that I’ll always have a soft spot for that one!), the Ricardos changing apartments, Lucy dressing up as Superman and getting stuck on the balcony, Ethel putting on a show in her hometown and the others joining in to teach her a lesson, the infamous Vitameatavegamin commercial, and, of course, Lucy and Ricky welcoming their son into the world. I especially love that it was coordinated to air on the night their real son was born. Again, there’s just something special about it.
There’s just something special about Lucy. She’s made us laugh, cry, wonder, reflect, reminisce, dream, and hope. Decades after she became America’s Sweetheart, she continues to touch lives and influence them for the better. Because, as she says, life’s not only about luck. It’s about knowing what you want and going after it. It’s about being willing to work hard and be fearless. It’s about crossing boundaries, breaking down barriers, and leaping before you look. It’s about going for your dreams and seeking out every opportunity. It’s about making your own luck. That’s what Lucy did. That’s what she inspires us to do. And maybe that’s why so many people are celebrating her this weekend. It’s not only because of what she did or how much she accomplished. It’s because of who she is and who she encourages us all to be. Lucy can make infinite audiences laugh like no other. She can make us feel like no other. But Lucille … she can make us believe like no other, and for that, we should be deeply grateful.
Happy Birthday, Lucille. Thanks for the entertainment, the joy, the reminder to reach for the stars … and, most of all, for the memories.