Anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birthday greeted with new statue, all-star comedy fest and prep for a national comedy museum in her New York hometown

Lucille Ball would have turned 105 today.

To celebrate, Ball’s hometown of Celeron, N.Y., unveiled a brand-new statue of the iconic TV comedy legend today — sculpted by Carolyn D. Palmer, chosen from a nationwide search after the previous sculpture of Ball was deemed more scary than lovable.

LucilleBall_sculpture_2016_CarolynPalmerjpg“I not only wanted to portray the playful, animated and spontaneous Lucy, but also the glamorous Hollywood icon,” Palmer said. “I just hope that all the Lucy fans are pleased and that Lucille Ball herself would have enjoyed this image of her.”

In neighboring Jamestown, N.Y., the annual Lucy Comedy Fest is wrapping up this weekend with a headlining performance by Brian Regan, a panel chat with the Farrelly Brothers as well as a discussion on comedy legacies with the daughters of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Richard Pryor, and late-night stand-up showcases in the Lucy Desi Museum & Center for Comedy. Meanwhile, work continues on the brand-new National Comedy Center, which will function as a full-service museum that’ll include the archives from the late George Carlin, as well as a showroom with hologram performances from other late legends of stand-up comedy when it opens in 2017.

Lucille Ball’s vision was that Jamestown would become a destination for the celebration of all comedy and not just about her own legacy,” said Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of National Comedy Center, Inc. “This festival has done just that, attracting more than 10,000 visitors from over 40 states each year — a microcosm of what we will do with the National Comedy Center’s visitor attraction now under construction.”

It’s the 25th anniversary of Lucy Comedy Fest, as well as the 65th anniversary of I Love Lucy, which revolutionized TV sitcoms not only for pioneering the multi-cam format taped in front of live studio audiences, but also featured TV’s first star interracial couple as Ball co-starred with her real-life husband, Desi Arnez, and showed Ball on TV while pregnant with the couple’s first child.

My friends at Decider compiled an infographic to display just how much influence Ball had over TV and movies in later years.


And this just in from the American Masters folks — responsible for many of your favorite PBS documentaries — comes episode four of their new American Masters podcast, featuring the likes of Carol Burnett, Doris Singleton and Fran Drescher talking about Lucille Ball, her successes and and her challenges as a media pioneer and as a woman in that field.

If you prefer video, here’s a clip from the 2000 TV documentary with Drescher talking about Ball:

And this is Betty White talking about how Ball paved the way for Burnett, who both helped expand what’s possible for her and other women in comedy:

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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