Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy

A working museum honoring the couple
and poised for the future of comedy in Jamestown, NY

Desilu Studios
     I grew up watching I Love Lucy, as has every generation since mine. They were somewhat my pseudo parents and Little Ricky the brother I never had. When we picked Chautauqua Lake to be our "wedding destination", Lucy's
hometown of Jamestown, NY came into the picture as the city where we would purchase our marriage license. After that momentous ocassion, my excitement turned to visiting The Lucy Desi Museum and The Desilu Studios.

"Lucy in the Candy Factory" as a mural
      Walking down 3rd Street, we found the city filled with Lucy sightings from banners to oversized murals on buildings. The museum is now in its third home and is adjacent to the building housing the studio collection.  That is where we began our visit, but either building can be a first stop.  The Desilu Studios starts with the radio days and how I Love Lucy was birthed.  The iconic show caught on immediately because it dealt with real life situations interspersed with the background stories of a bandleader in a New York City nightclub and his wife that wanted to be discovered for her many undiscovered talents.
Lucy and Desi's New York Apartment
Highlights on display are recreations of the sets from their New York apartment and the hotel suite they inhabited
The Beverly Hills Hotel Suite
during their trip to Hollywood.  Both are impeccable in their detail.

Lucy's Memorable Outfits
Some of Lucy's most recognizable outfits are within arm's length, but still behind glass.  My favorite was the Paris couture gown and hat made from feed sacks, a tongue-in-cheek repartee to the sack dress then in vogue.  There's also
Filming a
a chance to show off your talents performing the Vitameatavegamin commercial shown on a 50s TV set.

     There's no photography allowed in the museum portion.  There's more fun as a timeline takes visitors through the duo's lives from beginning to end.  With an insight into their families, how they met, and how they built an empire, there is definitely more of a focus on Lucy's later television career. There are costumes and personal memorabilia including Lucy's monogrammed gold Mercedes.

Lucy's 8 Emmy Awards
     Visiting the museum, Lucy's awards and accomplishments seemed endless.  There are few women, or men, that can stand up to them.  But without Desi as a business partner, she would have paled even with her tremendous talent.  They remained friends to the end of their lives even though they divorced in 1960.  The Studio and Museum are glimpses into their lives and creative processes that will live on forever.

The Hunt Family Plot at Lakeview Cemetery
     After leaving the museum, there's a driving tour of Jamestown that includes Lucy's birthplace, girlhood home, and burial site.  Both homes are private residences.  Lakeview Cemetery is beautifully landscaped.  The headstone is simple,
Lucy's Headstone
but easily discovered with hearts painted on the drive and embedded in the flagstone walkway leading to her burial site. I found it prophetic that her middle name was Desirée.  It's a perfect resting spot for her laughter to spread across the rolling lawn and out into the world.

1 comment:

Bea said...

I was fortunate enough to have been able to watch 'I Love Lucy' reruns. -brilliant show!