Tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, would have been the 100th birthday of the person Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic Tom Shales once heartily endorsed as "Television’s Biggest Star."
And it shouldn’t be hard to find and watch–over the weekend–TV shows in which she starred.
This biggest star ever of TV is (and forever will be, if you ask us) Lucille Ball, who died at age 77 in 1989.
"I Love Lucy," her signature show, is still in syndication on many local TV stations around the country. For example, four episodes of "I Love Lucy" air every day in Los Angeles–weekdays on KCOP and weekends on KTTV.
Me-TV, which is on TV stations reaching about 50% of the country, will present a Lucille Ball marathon featuring 100 of the most popular episodes of "I Love Lucy," "We Love Lucy" and "The Lucy Show" from Friday night, Aug 5, at midnight ET through Monday, Aug. 8, at 8 a.m. ET.
And then there’s this, from the cable side: "Hallmark Channel, the exclusive cable home of ‘I Love Lucy,’ announces it will celebrate the centennial birthday of arguably the nation’s most famous and beloved comedienne, Lucille Ball, with a 48-hour marathon of classic ‘I Love Lucy’ episodes (48 episodes each day, 96 episodes in total) beginning Saturday, Aug. 5 (6 a.m. ET/PT), through Monday, Aug. 7 ( 6 a.m. ET/PT)." This announcement comes from the Hallmark Channel.
And here’s a must for summer reading this month: A brand-new edition of our choice for best book ever about Lucy, "Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz." One of the reasons this book is a favorite of ours is that it’s co-written by Tom Gilbert, our longtime Executive Editor (who left us and now works at the iPad/tablet newspaper The Daily).
Here’s how publisher HarperCollins describes the book: "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."
Also, there’s this announcement of coverage of Ball’s 100th birthday on the radio: "SiriusXM Radio will launch Redhead Radio: 100 Years of Lucille Ball, a limited-run channel celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the comedy legend with non-stop broadcasts of classic radio shows featuring the comedienne at key moments in her storied career, as well as interviews with her fans, devotees and fellow comedians.
"Redhead Radio will launch at 12:00 am ET on August 6, 2011 — the day Lucy would have celebrated her 100th birthday — on SiriusXM channel 82, taking over SiriusXM’s RadioClassics for two days. SiriusXM’s Greg Bell will host Redhead Radio from The Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, aka ‘Lucy Fest,’ the annual community-organized birthday celebration held in her hometown of Jamestown, N.Y. This year’s headliner is comedy icon Joan Rivers."
The announcement, from SiriusXM, adds, "Redhead Radio features dozens of episodes of her classic 1940s radio comedy series ‘My Favorite Husband,’ which inspired ‘l Love Lucy.’"
If you want to read a wonderfully engaging piece by two of the writers and co-creators of "I Love Lucy," please click here. It was a piece we specially commissioned on the 50th Anniversary of "I Love Lucy" in 2001.