As a movie actress Lucille Ball was, in her own words, “queen of the B-pluses.” But on the small screen she was a superstar–arguably the funniest and most enduring in the history of TV. In this exemplary biography, Stefan Kanfer explores the roots of Lucy’s genius and places it in the context of her conflicted and sometimes bitter personal life.
Ball of Fire gives us Lucy in all her contradictions. Here is the beauty who became a master of knock-down slapstick; the control freak whose comic alter ego thrived on chaos, the worshipful TV housewife whose real marriage ended in public disaster. Here, too, is an intimate view of the dawn of television and of the America that embraced it. Charming, informative, touching. and laugh-out-loud funny, this is the book Lucy’s fans have been waiting for.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Romance eBook: Somebody|
|Release Date: 11-04-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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In Disgrace with Fortune
It was typical of Marlon to enter the world upside down. The breech birth took place shortly after 11 p.m., April 3, 1924, in the Omaha Maternity Hospital.
His earliest home was right out of the imaginings of Hollywood at a time when the film industry, dominated by Jewish immigrants, was beginning to reinvent its host country. If status was denied to these rough, uneducated Eastern Europeans, observed historian Neal Gabler, the movies offered an ingenious option. The first moguls "would fabricate their empire in the image of America. They would create its values and myths, its traditions and archetypes. It would be an America where fathers were strong, families stable, people attractive, resilient, resourceful, and decent." This is the superficially idyllic America into which Marlon was born.
Yet even in the peaceful Midwest, ideal turf of the Dream Factory, there were dark spots no one could ignore. In the year of Marlon's birth, for example, two adolescents, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, kidnapped and murdered fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks in a Chicago suburb. That was in May. Detectives closed in shortly afterward, the culprits were arraigned in June, and by August they were on trial for their lives. The defense, headed by star lawyer Clarence Darrow, enlisted mind doctors, "alienists," in the parlance of the day, to establish irresponsibility by reason of insanity. Sigmund Freud was asked to aid the cause, but he was in fragile health and declined the invitation. After being called "cowardly perverts," "atheists," and "mad dogs," Leopold and Loeb were se