There was Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Perry Mason, Beaver, Lucy, 77 Sunset Strip, Bob Hope and many other long-gone favorites. So, here I am in 2015, asking myself if there’s a reason I Love Lucy still flourishes today as if it were a newly-minted sitcom.
Now, on my 60-inch, color TV set, episodes of Lucy are on at least once a day, endlessly displaying her black and white vintage slapstick comedy. Yeah, I know she had the brilliant idea to shoot it on long-lasting 16mm film, not the flimsy kinescope process of the time that faded most other 1950s shows into dust.
But why is she still so popular today? Why do I look forward to watch her daily? And why do I still recall encountering her back when she was still shooting those 16mm Lucy shows?
In my mid-1950s career as a $75 a week writer for the now-long-gone afternoon daily, The Beverly Hills Citizen, I met Lucille Ball several times. It was usually at a premiere or other show business function I was covering.
However, the most memorable encounter was a chance one on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. There was a 99¢ all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant we impoverished newspaper employees frequented for lunch. The buffet name escapes me, but I recall it was next door to a posh beauty salon.
One day, when I finsihed lunch and was getting into my car, another pulled up. It stopped parallet to mine and blocked me in. As I was about to cuss out the driver, a head leaned out the window. My anger vanished as I recognized the mass of brilliant red hair, big blue eyes and familiar face.
“Hey, are you leaving that parking spot?” If I had taken time to think, I would’ve given my positive response in a wise-guy Desi Arnaz Cuban accent. However, I only managed to bow, smile, jump into my car and pull away.
Today, as usual, I watched an episode of Lucy, and realized why her program continues to be popular. It’s basic, enjoyable entertainment. It has no phony reality simpering, no sneering sex, no Kardashian posturing, no political message, no painfully noisy soundtrack nor curse words. Though it’s in black and white and doesn’t show her brilliant red hair, I still Love Lucy.