Lucille Ball Weeps at Arnaz Funeral
SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Lucille Ball dabbed tears from her eyes during a memorial mass Thursday for her former husband, Desi Arnaz, with whom she starred for 10 years in television’s ″I Love Lucy.″
Miss Ball was among about 100 people who attended the private service for Arnaz, who died Tuesday at his home in Del Mar from lung cancer. He was 69.
The Cuban-born bandleader was best-known for his role as Ricky Ricardo on ″I Love Lucy,″ which set several precedents for modern television situation comedy.
A picture of Arnaz as a young man was centered in the sanctuary of St. James Roman Catholic Church during the service, as friends and family remembered Arnaz as an intensely competitive and talented showman.
″I will never ever, ever forget his tremendous help to me. and I speak not only about what he did for me but what he has done for the entire industry,″ actor Danny Thomas said in a eulogy.
″Television owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude and no one but no one has ever come close to the kind of TV Desi brought with Lucy to this industry,″ he said.
Before entering the church with her husband, Gary Morton, Miss Ball remembered Arnaz, whom she divorced in 1960, as ″a great, great showman.″
″Just look at the stuff he’s done over the years,″ Miss Ball said. ″It’s on three or four times every day. He was a great part of our innovation in this business.″
As the eulogies were delivered, Miss Ball gripped Morton’s hand and dabbed tears from her eyes with a hankerchief. Nearby were Miss Ball’s and Arnaz’s two children, actress Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill and actor Desi Arnaz Jr. There was no coffin in the church as cremation was planned.
″I Love Lucy″ starred Arnaz as bandleader Ricky Ricardo, Miss Ball as his wife Lucy, and William Frawley and Vivian Vance as neighbor-landlord s Fred and Ethel Mertz. It ran from 1951 to 1961, and is still seen around the world in reruns.
Miss Ball is the sole survivor of the show’s regular foursome.
Arnaz, who later became one of Hollywood’s most successful producers, pioneered use of mutiple cameras in stituation comedies. ″I Love Lucy″ was the first show to use three cameras instead of one.
It also was the first to use a live audience to react to the performances and among the first shows to move production from New York to Hollywood.
The show was produced at Arnaz and Miss Ball’s Desilu Studios, and from that series, the couple developed Desilu into a major TV production company that in its prime produced more than 19 TV programs, including ″The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,″ ″The Untouchables,″ ″December Bride,″ ″Willy,″ ″Our Miss Brooks,″ ″Make Room for Daddy,″ ″Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse,″ ″The Web″ and shows starring Ray Bolger and George Gobel.