Tag Archives: “I Love Lucy”

Roundup: Lucille Ball, Norwalk Youth Symphony, More

Happy New Year. Congratulations to us all. We made it out of 2020.

There’s no looking back now!

Every new year brings hope — and a fresh start — to Westport.

That’s the same thing Lucy Ricardo and her friend Ethel Mertz wanted 60 years ago. “I Love Lucy”‘s stars had just moved to the country.

And this is what the country saw, on the top-rated comedy show:

I’d heard about the photo, and searched all month for it — to no avail.

Providentially, late yesterday, Wendy May emailed me. She figured I already had it, but figured what the heck.

Amazing! 2021 is already starting out on the right foot.

Over 30 Westport 4th through 12th graders perform with the Norwalk Youth Symphony. They did not miss a beat this fall. Despite the pandemic, the 65-year-old institution added chamber music ensembles, master classes and lessons in music theory, to its regular program of 5 orchestras.

This month, the NYS offers new seminars for high school students and adults. Topics include “Women and the American Sound,” “The Roaring Harlem Renaissance,” “1,000 Years of Music in 60 Minutes,” and “Alma Mahler and Her Times.”

Ahead: a seminar for parents on motivating young musicians.

Young musicians now play remotely from their homes in sections by instrument. It’s different — but they and their instructors have risen to the challenge.

For more information on Norwalk Youth Symphony click here, call 203-866-4100, or email nysed@optonline.net.

And finally … “Do You Love Me” like you’ve never heard it before!


Lucy Loved The Minuteman

The unveiling of the recently renovated Minuteman caused a few old-timers* to reminisce about one of the statue’s most famous star turns.

In 1957, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo “moved” from their East 68th Street brownstone to Westport. Their good friends Fred and Ethel Mertz joined them.

It was the 6th and final season of “I Love Lucy.” And in the very last episode, Lucy accidentally smashed the Minuteman statue that Ricky is about to unveil at the “Yankee Doodle Day” celebration. Hilarity, of course, ensued.

Lucy Ricardo, posing as the Minuteman statue.

Lucy Ricardo, posing as the Minuteman statue.

The episode — including a cameo appearance by 5-year-old Desi Arnaz Jr. — was watched by over 35 million viewers. (The top-ranked comedy in 2013-14, ” Big Bang Theory,” averaged 20 million.)

So how did Lucy end up in Westport, demolishing the Minuteman statue?

According to a fascinating story by Marshall S. Berdan in the December 2006 issue of Westport Magazine, the show’s writers needed “a whole new set of zany predicaments” that the suburbs could provide. (The reason given on TV: With young Desi Jr. growing up, the apartment was too small.)

I Love Lucy logoBob Weiskopf — one of the 4 writers — had actually lived in an old Victorian house on Canal Street, before moving to California. He suggested Westport as the Ricardos and Mertzes’ new home.

Broadway set designer Ralph Alswang and his wife Betty — Weston residents — drove a senior writer around town in December of 1956. They showed her Compo Beach, downtown and the train station, then had dinner at Cobb’s Mill. That one day in Westport sealed the deal.

According to Berdan, actor Arthur Kennedy’s 1928 home on Old Hill Road — with plank floors, wooden beams and a massive stone fireplace — served as the model for the Ricardos’ home. The Mertzes moved into the “guesthouse.”

Lucy did find “a new set of foils,” Berdan wrote, “in the form of Westport’s somewhat stiff, commuting corporate types and their patrician Yankee wives, the latter in collective form as the Westport Historical Society, the Westport Garden Club and an unnamed country club.”

In one episode, Lucy lost control of a power lawnmower on Main Street and the Boston Post Road. In another, the Ricardos and Mertzes attempt to surprise each other at the train station, but miss connections. I’m sure it looked funnier than it sounds.

In the Minuteman episode, Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in "Westport." It says: "Yankee Doodle Day Celebration -- Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green."

In the Minuteman episode, Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in “Westport.” It says: “Yankee Doodle Day Celebration — Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green.”

In the final scene of the Minuteman episode, Berdan said, “the Ricardos’ dog nuzzles the replacement statue (Lucy) to life while Ricky extols the bravery and heroism exhibited by the patriots at the Battle of Compo.”

That’s a far cry from the scene on Monday, when Westporters got their first look at the newly restored Minuteman.

But it sure puts the complaints about the old guy wearing a Santa cap in perspective, no?

*Not as old as the Minuteman, but still.

For exceprts from the “I Love Lucy” Minuteman episode, click below:

(Hat tip to Richard Epstein)


Rod Serling Lives!

The Writers Guild of America recently asked its members to rate the 101 best-written shows in television history.

“The Sopranos” was Number 1. “Seinfeld” was 2nd. No surprises there.

But coming in 3rd: “The Twilight Zone.”

That’s right: a half-century-old black-and-white anthology is still called the 3rd best-written TV series ever.

DEE-DEE dee-dee DEE-DEE dee-dee…

Rod Serling

Those of us who remember creator/writer/host Rod Serling from his Westport days are not the only ones excited to hear the place “Twilight Zone” holds in America’s heart.

Mark Dawidziak of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:

When you handicap the top three and adjust for short Hollywood attention spans, that’s practically saying “The Twilight Zone” is in a dimension all its own — far beyond the No. 1 spot….Submitted for your approval: the real winner of the Writers Guild poll.

It’s a stirring testament to the heroic influence of Rod Serling that, almost 54 years after “The Twilight Zone” debuted, so many television writers cite him and his “wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination” as inspirations. They couldn’t have better role models.

“The Twilight Zone” was a series with a social conscience and it was fantasy television that believed there was intelligent life on the other side of the television screen. It would be difficult to find a writer on any current fantasy, horror or science-fiction series who doesn’t count himself or herself as a proud descendant of the creator, host and principal writer of “The Twilight Zone.”

Westport has other connections to the Top 101:

  • In the final season of “I Love Lucy” — the #12 series –the Ricardos and Mertzes moved to Westport. (Hilarity of course ensued — click here.)
Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in "Westport." It says: "Yankee Doodle Day Celebration -- Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green."

Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in “Westport.” It says: “Yankee Doodle Day Celebration — Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green.”

  • 1985 Staples grad Paul Lieberstein is an “Office” (#50) writer/producer/actor (Toby Flenderson).
  • Rod Serling pops up again at #65, as a “Playhouse 90” writer.
  • Longtime resident Jack Klugman starred for a long time as Oscar Madison on “The Odd Couple” (#78).

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty more. I’m not looking for something as tangential as the fact that “All in the Family’s” (#4) Jean Stapleton’s cousin is Westport artist Alberta Cifolelli.

But click here for the full list. And if you’ve got a good Top 101/Westport connection, hit “Comments.”

An “Elementary” Westport Murder

I’m not a fan of “Elementary.” In fact, until this week, I’d never heard of the CBS detective show.

ElementaryBut my great, longtime friend Neil Brickley is. And even though he no longer lives here, he keeps up with the 06880 (and “06880”).

Last week’s episode caught his eye. The plot involved a murder that took place 20 years earlier. The victim was stabbed to death on a street, and the case had gone cold.

“Elementary'”s writers could have chosen anywhere for their fictional murder. It might have been New York, or a made-up place like Mayberry or Mayfield.

But the murder took place in Westport.

We’ve come quite a way from the days when Lucy Ricardo accidentally destroyed our Minuteman statue.

(If your browser does not link directly to YouTube, click here.)