It's been a few weeks since I did the interview with Lee Tannen about the world's most beloved comedienne, Lucille Ball. The public response to that interview was truly overwhelming, and very emotional. It has taken me all this time to really process what Lee had to say in that interview, and to reconcile his observations of Lucy's real personality with the image we all have of the "Lucy" character we all fell in love with.
The simple fact is that we cannot reconcile those two people. Lucille Ball was a skillful actress, and nothing at all like the TV "Lucy". For those of you who expressed skepticism about whether Lee was being accurate or fair in his portrayal of Lucy (after all, he wrote the book long after she died and no longer able to defend herself), I respond as follows.
First of all, Lucy's daughter Lucie Arnaz wrote a significant endorsement of the book, right on the back cover, reinforcing the correctness of Lee's portrayal of her mother. That endorsement is very significant in assessing Lee's book - and the comments he made in his interview with me.
Secondly, when I poured through the myriad of YouTube interviews with and about Lucy, I came across this interview with Lucie Arnaz on the Joan Rivers show - and yes, Joan was an excellent interviewer, as you will see if you watch this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcnKYoIxJ3g. In my opinion, everything Lucie Arnaz had to say about her parents, and especially about her Mom, corroborated the description of Lucy that Lee provided.
Lucille Ball will forever be my favourite entertainer. Her shows provided me with much-needed laughter, comfort and escapism during a very lonely childhood marred by relentless bullying and self-doubt. Through Lee's book, and his interview with me (which he told me afterwards was the most thorough, candid and in-depth interview he ever gave), and through Lucie Arnaz's comments on the Joan Rivers show, I feel like I really got to know and understand who Lucille Ball truly was. And, strange as it may sound, that gives me comfort. My respect for this brilliant, work-obsessed, micro-managing woman whose only real joy in life was to make people laugh, has grown even more than before.
Thank you Lee and Lucie for your candor, and for sharing your very private memories of this very public woman with all of us.