This past Saturday we celebrated the centennial of Lucille Ball’s birth. Celebrate indeed. There are few TV programs to match I Love Lucy– due almost entirely to the genius of the iconic Ms. Ball. As my life stretches from the mid 1940’s our first TV set was a 10” DuMont. Yep it really was 10 inches (and of course black and white). But it didn’t matter for when Lucy came on the screen she was bigger than life! There are several teachings I took from watching Lucy. First, she wiped away the hardships of our days. She reminded us that laughter is the perfect antiseptic for life’s burdens. In my book, Humanity at Work: Encouraging Spirit, Achievement and Truth to Flourish in the Workplace (Chapel Hill Press 2008), I explore why we find certain movies timeless – why we can watch them over and over again,
“As one film critic noted, the appeal and mystery of most movies are extinguished upon disclosure of the ending. Other movies are ageless; like certain tunes, they get better with familiarity. My own rationale for serial viewing is far less theoretical—I watch certain films because they make me feel good. When my mind asks my heart how often that should be, my heart replies, “As often as possible!”
Lucy taught us that life’s joys are imbedded in the most ordinary of our daily activities. What endeared Lucy to each of us was the basic values that tied her to all she held dear- compassion, loyalty, a charity of heart and the ability to accept mistakes- and she made some whoppers!. Lucy’s optimism left each of us with a deep seeded sense of gratitude for the good she infused in the world.
One final reflection. The heroic contributions of millions of women to the war effort should have made the notion of a job well done gender neutral. But in the 1950’s there still existed certain stereotypes as to the role of women in our society. It is worth remembering that in many episodes Lucy sought work outside the home. She succeeded as a mother and a wife which is in itself special indeed, but she wanted her life to include work experiences. I suspect in a subtle way she gave other women permission to follow her lead. Moreover, the real life Lucille Ball became an extraordinarily successful television and movie executive.
We really did love Lucy!