Monday, July 29, 2013


Everyone loves Lucy. I liked Lucille Ball - the movie actress much more than Lucille Ball - the television comedian.  I always thought that Desi Arnaz was the man behind the brains of the mammoth I Love Lucy show. I know I am in the minority, but I like her movies more than her television appearances. Still though, I admit is one of the most recognizable deceased icons around alongside Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. It is hard to believe but it has been over 24 years now since Lucille Ball passed away on April 26,1989. I remember that day easily because a week earlier my great grandmother had passed away as well.

The date was March 29, 1989, and the most famous comedienne in the history of show business was about to make her final TV appearance. The great Lucille Ball was appearing at the annual Academy Awards ceremony, along with the world's most popular other comedian, Bob Hope (an old friend). Hope had talked Lucy into making the joint appearance, after many phone calls and much begging. Finally Lucy conceded, but she hated the very idea of it. Lucy hated putting on the wig she had chosen to wear. She complained the netting gave her a headache. "G--damn Hope," Lucy complained, "No one cares what the hell he looks like, but everybody cares what I look like -God, I am so tired of myself." Lucy did her final TV appearance with Hope all all went smoothly enough. Now she had to go back to real life.

Lucy had been a bit down lately. She had never really completely recovered from the death of her former husband Desi Arnaz, her co-star on the legendary "I Love Lucy". Most intimate friends saw the obvious about Lucy's love for Desi. Although she was currently in a comfortable marriage to Gary Morton, she had always carried a torch for Desi. (Desi always sent Lucy flowers on her birthday and on their anniversary, and the two kept in close touch by phone throughout the years.)

Also, the dismal failure of her recent TV series "Life With Lucy" weighed heavily on her mind. Lucy now occupied her days watching TV, playing Scrabble and backgammon, and having occasional drinks of Bourbon ("slushies" as she called them).

On April 17th, Lucy started experiencing shooting pains in her chest. Her husband called the doctor and tried to talk Lucy into going to the hospital. Lucy refused to go until Gary called Lucy's daughter, who finally convinced her. Lucy only agreed to go if she could get nicely dressed and put on her makeup. Upon arriving, Lucy was given seven hours of open-heart surgery at the hospital. Lucy's operation was a success, and after a few days, she returned home.

But sadly, after Lucy arrived home she was told she couldn't live in her own bedroom. She'd have to stay in the guest room downstairs. As Lucy's house had no elevators, the doctors wanted to make sure she didn't do any stair climbing. This apparently broke Lucy's heart. She did not want to live in a makeshift bedroom and she did not want to be treated as an invalid.

The next morning, Lucy's surgically repaired aorta ruptured again and she went into full cardiac arrest. She was rushed back to the hospital, but this time the doctors couldn't save her. The great Lucy had passed away.

"She really disintegrated so quickly," said Tannen. "Her tombstone should have read 'From Desi's death on Dec. 2, 1986, to her own death on April 26, 1989' because that was the life of her death. On her death certificate it says 'ruptured aorta.' but I believe Lucy died because she didn't want to live anymore." Lucy might not of wanted to live anymore, but because of her great body of entertainment, she will live forever...



  1. Thanks for the reminder. I must admit to being brought up with black and white I Love Lucy's on the TV as a lad. Sadly not aired anymore, at least not on my multi channels, yet I do have some great recordings of Desi Arnaz which I can listen too now and then.

  2. Ah, this is a sad story. But she was a remarkable woman and left us a wonderful legacy.

  3. One of very few TV shows or even movies that still make me laugh even though I've seen every episode several times.I Love Lucy and I Miss Lucy.Sleep well.

  4. David, your account of Lucille Ball's final days were truly poignant, especially hearing that Lucy and Desi had died only days apart. Thanks for giving us a look into these icons' final days.

  5. That was a lovely post. I thought I was the only one who enjoyed Lucy's movies more than her television shows.