Colliers Magazine: Illustration of Lucille Ball Playing the Loaded Cello (1952)

Funny [Ladies?]

by Evelyn Harvey

October 18, 1952

A bumper crop of professional funny women promise to turn this into a banner year for comedy on stage and TV. A flock of newcomers have joined the select handful of comediennes, the ladies of the sagging seams and flap-toed shoes, who have long been in a class by themselves as distaff clowns.

Techniques of today’s female comics rage from the high, or parlor, variety to the low (or Seltzer bottle) brand; from the airy arrogance of Broadway’s Beatrice Lillie to the saucer-eyed shenanigans of TV’s Lucille Ball; and from the mugging of NBC-TV’s Martha Raye and Imogene Cocoa to the gay gaucheries of CBS’s Gracie Allen and the wry wit of radio-TV schoolteacher Eve Arden.

Bright beginning to the current television year was the return a few weeks ago of carrot-topped comedienne Lucille Ball for her second season in CBS’s top-ranking comedy program I Love Lucy — a loose TV translation of the raffish household adventures of Miss Ball and her husband, orchestra leader Desi Arnaz. In rag-mop wig or baggy boudoir gown, Miss Ball gallops trough the multiple misadventures of a young housewife with a mind as light as milkweed down.

But it wasn’t always thus. Miss Ball’s penchant for playing hound-toothed hillbillies and bandy-legged urchins lay long trapped behind a statuesque exterior and a pair of roundly innocent blue eyes. This proper facade led Lucille first to a fruitless bout with the theatre, then to modeling and finally to Hollywood, where her movie career began ominously as leading lady to a comedy team called The Three Stooges.

“There wasn’t a day when I didn’t get Seltzer squirted in my face,” says Lucille. “I came home every night smelling like an ice-cream soda.” But though she graduated to show-girl roles, her comic talent seeped through and she developed into one of the leading comediennes of films. It wasn’t until after her marriage to Desi Arnaz, however, and relatively recently the launching of their TV show that Miss Ball rose to her full stature as a clown.

Now, at forty, undeterred by the added dignity of motherhood or the sobering aspects of a formidable financial success, Lucille Ball is firmly established as TV’s leading female comic, bar none.

Caption: Lucille Ball mugs through clown and cello act in I Love Lucy, CBS show that stars her with band-leader husband Desi Arnaz.

Source: Colliers Magazine, October 18, 1952, page 34.

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