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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday Celebrated All Day on TCM

Today, August 6th, marks the 100th anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birth. And in honor of the occasion, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has dedicated the entire day’s programing to the films of the legendary red head. as part of its Summer Under the Stars showcase.

Many a fan of the great comedic star of television’s ground breaking sit-com, I Love Lucy has forgotten (if they ever even knew) that Lucille Ball was a big movie star long before she ever conquered the small screen. Ball’s tremendous success in the early days of television, and continued success with various shows through the 1970’s virtually eclipses the work she completed while a contract player, first at RKO and then at MGM.

Indeed, the truly great films in which she appeared presented her in supporting roles, while the films in which she was the star tended to be less notable. After all, even though she was known as Technicolor Tessie, she was also known as the Queen of the “B” movies. Either way, there’s no disputing that when Ball was good, she was great! And with TCM playing many of her early films today here’s a chance to see Ball during her hey day as a Hollywood starlet.

Personally, I’m particularly fond of Ball in her later years when she appeared in such classics as Yours, Mine and Ours. It won’t be featured in today’s lineup, so if you haven’t seen it I suggest you either Tivo it or put it on your NetFlix. It’s a very sweet and endearing romance of an older couple who meet after loosing their spouses and form a family that consists of 18 kids. It’s a film for the family, about family and it co-stars a gorgeously mature Henry Fonda, so it’s a win-win!

In the mean time the not to be missed film today is Stage Door, scheduled for 8PM EST and 5PM PST. Not only does it have a great all-star cast that includes Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers, but it’s part of TCM’s Essentials list, so the film will be introduced and discussed by Alec Baldwin and Robert Osborne. The film is one of those behind the scenes of Broadway life films, so there’s lots of beautiful young women helping each other and hurting each other as they struggle to get their big break. Ball is one of the wise-cracking chorus girls who live in the same apartment building as Hepburn and Rogers. She’s a real whip and gives fellow wise-cracker Eve Arden a run for her money. This is the role Ball considered to be her break through.

Whatever you may watch be sure to celebrate the day the Lucy way and laugh, laugh, laugh as you take time to appreciate the talents of one of the funniest and most talented women Hollywood has ever had the privilege of knowing. Happy birthday, Lucy! We all love you!

* Editor's Note: Ball is pictured above in a still from “Stage Door” between two of the biggest stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. One reason the film was shot in Black & White was because all three were known red heads. Hepburn a dark red and Ginger strawberry blonde, but neither could compare to Ball’s technicolor tresses.

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