Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

Overview

The behind-the-scenes story of television’s happiest couple, and Hollywood’s most tumultuous marriage

The magical union of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz created I Love Lucy—the greatest, most enduring situation comedy in television history. Yet the overwhelming pressures of fame, backstage battles, oversized egos, and Desi’s philandering and drinking led to the destruction of their star-crossed, tempestuous marriage—but never their love for each ...

See more details below
Paperback
$13.95
BN.com price
(Save 17%)$16.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $6.71   
  • New (12) from $6.71   
  • Used (6) from $9.95   
Sending request ...

Overview

The behind-the-scenes story of television’s happiest couple, and Hollywood’s most tumultuous marriage

The magical union of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz created I Love Lucy—the greatest, most enduring situation comedy in television history. Yet the overwhelming pressures of fame, backstage battles, oversized egos, and Desi’s philandering and drinking led to the destruction of their star-crossed, tempestuous marriage—but never their love for each other.

This new edition of Desilu features a special commentary by Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic Tom Shales, and includes a brand-new preface and never-before-seen photographs. Written with the close cooperation of family members, including Lucy and Desi’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, Desilu is the most candid and balanced inside account of Lucy and Desi’s celebrated, but ultimately tragic, relationship—as well as a fascinating look at the legendary Desilu Studios and the fabled golden age of television.

The magical union of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz created I Love Lucy and Desilu Studios--two of the greatest show-business success stories of all time. Now this candid book reveals the true, behind-the-scenes story of America's happiest TV couple--and Hollywood's most tumultuous real-life marriage. "A page turner of the first order."--Hollywood Reporter.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Hollwood Reporter
“A page-turner of the first order ... Desilu is good, gritty, fair but strong and bottom line -- a gripper.”
The Houston Post
“Lively and informative ... A thoughtful, candid look at one of the world’s most loved, most watched comedy teams --
The Boston Globe
“Well researched and toughly sympathetic”
Entertainment Weekly
“Excellent”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Provide[s] fresh insights into the performers’ personalities . . . Fans of the Lucy show will find Desilu fascinating.”
Beverly Hills (213)
Filled with juicy details, quotes, backstage insights, rare photos . . . The best bio about America’s red-topped funny lady ever”
Entertainment Weekly
Excellent
San Francisco Chronicle
Provide[s] fresh insights into the performers' personalities . . . Fans of the Lucy show will find Desilu fascinating.
Houston Post
Lively and informative ... A thoughtful, candid look at one of the world's most loved, most watched comedy teams.
Boston Globe
Well researched and toughly sympathetic.
Beverly Hills
Filled with juicy details, quotes, backstage insights, rare photos . . . The best bio about America's red-topped funny lady ever.
Hollywood Reporter
A page-turner of the first order ... Desilu is good, gritty, fair but strong and bottom line — a gripper.
Hollwood Reporter
A page-turner of the first order ... Desilu is good, gritty, fair but strong and bottom line — a gripper..
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062020017
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 277,568
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Coyne Steven Sanders is a noted entertainment journalist, author of the critically acclaimed Rainbow's End: The Judy Garland Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show Book, and writes for Variety in Los Angeles.

Tom Gilbert, a veteran entertainment trade journalist, has written about television for the Los Angeles Times, Variety, and the Hollywood Reporter. In his capacity as a Lucy expert, he has appeared on E!, CNN, the History Channel, Entertainment Tonight, A&E's Biography, NBC's Headliners and Legends, and the Fox News Channel. Based in Los Angeles, he currently is managing editor of the television trade journal Electronic Media.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



"I am a real ham. I love an audience. I work better
with an audience. I am dead, in fact, without one."

— Lucille Ball, 1953



The year 1947 was a time of great uncertainty for thirty-six-year-oldLucille Ball. A fourteen-year career in mostly mediocre motion pictureshad left her financially rewarded but artistically frustrated. With a filmactress's greatest opportunity — a shot at major MGM stardom-behindher, not exactly a failure but certainly not a success, she was faced withthe brutal reality that odds were she had nowhere to go but down. Withno film offers forthcoming-and almost against her will-Lucille wouldmake what would prove to be a very significant choice: to go "legit," orperform in a play, onstage, an area where she had had very littleexperience. I

Dream Girl, a Walter Mitty-esque mixture of comedy and fantasy written by Elmer Rice, was the vehicle that would bring Lucille to the boards. A smash hit on Broadway during the 1945-46 season, it presented the vivid romantic daydreams of a prim bookshop owner. The tour-de-force — and very demanding-part of Georgina Allerton was a plum role Rice had concocted as a gift, of sorts, for wife Betty Field. Lucille, however, would make her debut as Georgina in a less auspicious place than Broadway-she would bow in a summer-stock production one hundred miles away, in Princeton, New Jersey.

The events leading up to Lucille's appearing in Dream Girl, however, were not quite the result of her own determined efforts for a stage career. In the early months of 1947, Herbert Kenwith was scouting talent for his upcoming production ofthe show, which would reopen the McCarter Theater under his auspices that June as part of the Princeton Drama Festival. Lucille had often complained that she was a second-string film actress, losing good parts to Ann Sothern and Ginger Rogers. True to form, she was not Kenwith's first choice for the stage; he originally opted to cast the then-popular Martha Scott. When that actress proved unavailable, the young director happened to read that Lucille was visiting New York, and began a zealous pursuit.

Lucille was staying at the posh Hampshire House on Central Park South, so Kenwith phoned her suite, only to be told by her maid, Harriet, that "Miss Ball was out shopping." When Harriet mentioned that Lucille would return to the hotel very briefly to dress for the theater, Herbert asked which play she would be attending. Harriet revealed Lucille's theater-going plans for the next three nights.

Kenwith hatched a plan. He called in some favors and managed to secure a house seat for each play on the same night Lucille planned to attend. "House seats are usually down in front, and I assumed she had house seats, too, so I'd be sitting near her," recalls the director. "As it turned out on that first night, I was not sitting directly in front of her, but sort of checkerboard in front of her. I kept turning around and looking at her. Every time I'd look at her, she'd catch my eye and look away. She was becoming annoyed, but I wanted her to remember my face. During intermission, we both walked out to the lobby. I kept moving around in front of her. The second night, I was seated about three rows away, so I made a deliberate error and walked into the row in front of her, as if I were looking for my seat. This time I said hello to her. She said hello, nodded her head, and ignored me. The third night, in the lobby, she grabbed me by the arm and said, 'Who the hell are you?' I said, 'I'm Herb Kenwith. You don't know it yet, but you're going to do a play for me.'"

"You're out of your mind," she told him. "I'm not going to do a play for anybody."

"Yes, you are. You are going to do a play."

"What play?"

"It's called Dream Girl."

"Oh, I wouldn't do that," said Lucille, who had seen the Broadway production. "It's longer than Hamlet."

Despite her protestations, Lucille was intrigued by Kenwith and invited him to lunch with her in her suite the following afternoon. "We had lunch. There were a lot of carrots on the plate. I commented that the carrots matched her hair. 'Well,' she said, 'That was the inspiration for the hair.'" At that moment, two local reporters arrived and began to interview Lucille, asking her what she was doing in New York. When at first she hesitated, one reporter said, "We can't believe you'd come to New York without any plans. is there some plan that you have?"

Trapped, Lucille — merely in New York on pleasure — stammered, "Well, as a matter of fact, I'm going to do a play." The announcement surprised Kenwith as much as it did the newspapermen. Lucille deftly tossed the ball in Kenwith's direction. "By coincidence, this is my producer. He's going to produce and direct a play for me." Kenwith announced that Miss Ball's upcoming play would be Dream Girl. "The next day I got a copy of the paper and went to Actor's Equity. I said, 'I don't have a contract with Miss Ball, but will this interview constitute a contract They told me that it might not stand up but, on the face of it, it was like a contract because she was quoted about doing the play and had made a commitment." He visited Lucille later that week.

"Here's a copy of Dream Girl," he said as he handed her the script. "What the hell for?" she retorted.

"You're going to do the play at Princeton."

"You're crazy."

"No, you're going to do it. You have to do it. You made a commitment in the newspaper to do this play."

"You know this is blackmail?"

"Yes, I know it. But I want you to do this play."

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2000

    One of the best Lucy-Desi books out there!

    This is one of the best books ever written about this legendary team. A very informative, personal account of the lives and careers of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Very little is known about Lucy and Desi, and this book gives you a peek into what their lives were like, onscreen and off. Lucille was NOT a self-centered b****, but rather a woman who had been hurt immensely and had to keep her guard up in order to keep from getting hurt again. This book will take you through the lives of TV's favorite couple. You'll see what their life was like offscreen, both together and separately. It gives interesting information about Desi's drinking, the creation and crumble of Lucy and Desi's Camelot Desilu, the disentigration of the not-so-fairytale marraige, and their lives after I Love Lucy and after eachother. I cried so hard at the end of this book. Lucy and Desi really loved eachother to their dying days, and it showed. But their love just wasn't enough to keep them together in the end. This is a wonderful book if you are a Lucy and/or Desi fan. It's a magical experience. Read this book; you won't regret it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 27, 2012

    Amazing

    This book gives you a great insight into the lives of Desi and Lucille. Their ups and downs and how even when it was over they still loved each other. You have got to read this book, it is great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2003

    The Great Lucy Strikes Again!!

    This book was entertaining and interesting at the same time!! I recommend this book to long-life fans and new commers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2000

    A Great Tribute

    I thought this book was a very moving tribute to this very famous couple. I am a very big fan of Lucille Ball and I love Lucy and I have read a lot of books on this subject. I'd say this is one of the best yet! I would recommend it to anybody who is an I love Lucy fan or who just like to read about tv's most famous couple of a ll time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)