The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum and Center for Comedy in Jamestown, NY
It’s no secret that Lucille Ball was born in the quaint village of Celoron New York, in West Jamestown. The community of Celoron was recently in the news due to the social media buzz about the “Scary Lucy” statue constructed in their public park in 2009. Many locals thought the statue was quite awful: however, but nothing was done about it until photos of the far less than flattering sculpture made the rounds of social media. In 2015 a public outcry ensued to have a new one commissioned. In 2016, a “Pretty Lucy” statue that actually looks remarkably like Ms. Ball was unveiled, to the delight of fans, and “Scary Lucy” was moved to another part of the park. Both statues can be viewed by visitors who remark upon the vast differences in artist interpretation.
As Jamestown is hailed as Lucy’s home town (and even mentioned by Lucy several times on the show “I Love Lucy”) it’s fitting that Jamestown has become the go to stop for fans to learn everything about Lucille Ball and her historical career in show business. Lucille Ball is one of the reasons Jamestown is on the map of famous places in New York, as it where Desiree and Henry Ball welcomed a gorgeous baby girl on August 6, 1911. Little did they know that Lucy was going to grow up to be one of the most famous names in show business. To have the real “Lucy” experience, it’s worth the trip to Jamestown, NY to visit all of the sights dedicated to their home town star Lucy and her famous husband, Desi Arnaz.
The hub of all the tourist activity is the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum and Center for Comedy, where you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about Lucy and Desi, plus you can see model restorations of the Ricardo’s apartment, the main setting for “I Love Lucy”. The Ricardo’s fictional address was 623 E. 68th Street in New York before they moved into the Beverly Palms in Hollywood and finally to a large colonial style home in Westport, Connecticut. The New York apartment set was actually filmed at the General Services Studio in Hollywood, but the set pieces went on tour in 2002 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the most popular comedy in history. Finally, the set pieces found a home at the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center For Comedy in Jamestown.
Make Your Own Commercial! (“It’s so Tasty Too”)
If you’ve ever wanted to star in your very own “Vitameatavegamin” commercial, you can have some fun at the “Desilu Studios” part of the The Lucille Ball Museum. You can enter a decorated set piece and say lines right from a copy of the original script from the 1952 episode, “Lucy Does a TV Commercial”. Lucy loved being a ham and you can be one too. Recently, my nephew Stephen and his pretty wife Tara took a tour and had to get in on the act to recreate their version of this iconic commercial. It’s all part of the journey through classic television history that The Lucille Ball Museum offers.
From New York to Hollywood and Back Again
All of the memories made by the Ricardo’s and the Mertz’s are there, with great attention to historical detail. You can also find out information about Lucy and Desi’s solo careers both before their marriage and after their divorce. Any Hollywood or Television historian can have a field day in Jamestown. You can do a walk through on your own or be part of a guided group, with regularly scheduled tours daily, Although Lucille left Jamestown for quite a while for her career as a showgirl, actress, and comedienne, she is forever New York’s Sweetheart.
Multi Age Fans Flock to Jamestown
Whether you are a Senior Citizen and remember watching the first broadcast of “I Love Lucy” or a millennial who fell in love with late night reruns, we all love Lucy. Although content to be the not as famous husband of the duo, Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo was an important breakthrough character on television. Lucy on TV as well as real life had a foreign born husband, Hispanic no less, and back in the day this was considered a “mixed marriage” frowned upon by some (remember West Side Story?) This was fifty years before the Latin star explosion in movies, TV, and music videos. Desi hails from Cuba and America fell in love with him as he incorporated his heritage into his character, particularly when he would tell Lucy she had some “splainin” to do. Or when he would get mad and yell at her in Spanish and Lucy Ricardo, who claimed to have failed Spanish in High School, had no idea what he was talking about. Ricky was not only a husband with a unique job (nightclub bandleader) he was also dark, handsome and very sexy, which was not the norm for husbands on TV shows in the 1950s.
Additional Jamestown Attractions:
You can also do the whole “Lucy Hometown Tour” where you see the house where Lucy was born, her school and other areas of interest including her grave site.
If you ever wanted to have an evening out at The Tropicana (The TV Stand In for the Copacabana) you can book seats for dinner at a recreation of the famous club, complete with entertainment. The Tropicana club is also available for custom bookings for a wedding or another special occasion. These events can be booked through the museum’s sales office. Information can be found at http://www.lucy-desi.com/
Lucy’s Final Return To Jamestown
When Lucille Ball died in 1989, she was originally buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood, California. After three years went by her children Lucy and Desi Arnaz Jr. were dismayed that she was not buried in her hometown with the rest of her family, so they had her moved to Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown. If you want to pay your respects, Lucy’s grave is not hard to find. There are signs as well as a paved walkway with embossed hearts leading the way to her final resting place. Lucille’s grave has her last name “Ball” engraved in a carved heart representing the logo of her most famous TV show.
Planning Your Trip
The Lucille Ball Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and on Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm If you can’t take a trip to Jamestown, New York, you don’t have to miss out on all the fun. There is a website http://www.lucy-desi.com/ where you read biographical info on the famous couple, their co-stars, and their children. You can also get information about the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival that happens each year in Jamestown, starring comedy greats such as Kevin James, Jim Gaffigan, and Lewis Black. You can also donate to the center to keep this wonderful historical treasure open so that generations to come can enjoy Lucy’s legacy in her hometown. The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum And Center for Comedy is located at 2 W 3rd St, Jamestown, NY 14701.