DESILU by Coyne Steven Sanders


The Lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
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 The best dual bio yet of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, backed by hard research and access to private Ball-Arnaz materials and Desilu Studios corporate records. Sanders wrote the excellent Rainbow's End (1990); Gilbert is an editor with Daily Variety. Despite all the fresh access and wide background work, the Lucy-Desi story is so well-known and the duo's characters have been so richly publicized that only the writing here seems new. Even so, Ball and Arnaz are creatures of hypnotic interest. Lucy (1911-89) was, of course, the RKO contract player who went on to own the studio. Lucy's early years at RKO are skimmed over quickly here (as are Desi's early years in Cuba) as the authors begin to tear into their subjects only with the year 1947. Sanders and Gilbert focus strongly on the Desilu corporation and its every little show, big success, and financial step forward. When Lucy married the high- living Desi (1917-86) in 1940, he was 23, she 29--but their age spread had less to do with their later emotional turmoil and final split than did Desi's alcohol-fueled promiscuity, gambling, and extravagance. He was, after all, the son of the ousted mayor of Santiago, Cuba, and had been used to wealth, property, and power before bursting into show business in Miami as the singing guitarist who launched the conga craze. Throughout the stars' ownership of Desilu, Arnaz's comedic talent on the I Love Lucy show was consistently underrated, although his intuitive eye for business was phenomenal. The show, already tops in the ratings, went through the roof with Ball's pregnant Lucy and the birth of Desi, Jr. From national monument as the world's foremost comedienne to final artistic decline, Lucy draws forth the reader's willing admiration here, as does Desi, even after the divorce. Valuable--and no holds barred, with even interviewees taking their licks. (Sixty b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-11217-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992