OUR 50-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR WITH LUCY MERCHANDISE BEARING SILLY REDHEAD'S FACE STILL POPULAR WITH NOSTALGIA BUFFS.Byline: Brent Hopkins Staff Writer
Fifty years ago today, America fell in love with Lucy.
A half-century after iconic redhead Lucille Ball first graced the small screen, the Lucy name is still going strong. Reruns of ``I Love Lucy'' are ubiquitous, and anything bearing her likeness is a hot seller.
Bruce Bronn, who handles official licensing for Lucy and her gang through his firm, Unforgettable Enterprises, has seen the show's name attached to everything from license plates to Barbie dolls. Since Ball and Desi desi Indian English
indigenous or local
informal a person considered to be of South Asian origin [Hindi] Arnaz's children began sanctioning merchandise through Unforgettable in 1995, the company has put more than 800 products on the market. And though he doesn't like to talk numbers, Bronn says Lucy's popularity is booming.
``It's huge,'' he said. ``With slot machines and candy and all that, it's definitely way into the seven figures a year in sales.''
Though Bronn limits the ways in which he licenses the show - he passed on proposals for ``I Love Lucy'' toilet paper and a bizarre duck sculpture featuring Lucy's head - the show, which aired on CBS (Cell Broadcast Service) See cell broadcast. from 1951 to 1957, offers thousands of marketing possibilities.
``She did so many crazy different episodes with themes,'' he said. ``You can keep using her for branding on so many different products, from vitamins to pizza.''
The personality that Ball and Arnaz, who had homes in Chatsworth and Encino, and co-stars William Frawley and Vivian Vance Vivian Roberta Jones (July 26, 1909 – August 17, 1979), known professionally as Vivian Vance, was an Emmy Award-winning American television actress, theater actress, and singer. imbued into the program also makes it a hot commodity for marketers. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Gregg Oppenheimer, historian and operator of LucyLibrary.com, the shows' distinctive moments are so ingrained within pop culture, they need no extra push to sell.
``If you have a doll of Lucy selling Vitameatavegemin, people see it and they smile,'' he said. ``Lucille Ball is one of the most well-known faces in history - even people who haven't seen the show know who she is. It's incredible power. All the good feeling she generated is mind-boggling, and that translates into today's merchandise.''
The franchise's unique character has made it successful in ways that other television franchises have been unable to attain. While there's no shortage of classic television merchandise, few have attained Lucy's ubiquity Ubiquity
See also Omnipresence.
their signs seen as “verses of the wayside throughout America.” [Am. Commerce and Folklore: Misc. . Michael Taylor Michael Taylor may refer to:
``It's all because of her,'' he said. ``She's got warmth, a personality we can all relate to and that impeccable timing. The general populace, regardless of generation, can completely relate to her more than any other character.''
Even in the '50s, the show was a marketing powerhouse. Its signature merchandise was everywhere, from baby accessories to furniture, and according to Oppenheimer, Arnaz restored the popularity of the smoking jacket. Though the show was sponsored by Philip Morris and found innovative ways to work its cigarettes into storylines, it was also successful at plugging Desilu merchandise.
``When she had the baby, they went crazy,'' said Oppenheimer, who grew up watching his father, Jess, write and produce the show. ``If you looked on the show, Little Ricky's crib has Lucy and Ricky stick figures on it. They always had accessories, and people went wild over her.''
Visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood's Lucy tribute museum said the show has never lost its freshness, a key to its continuing marketability.
Richard Brooks, a San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. banker, has watched the show for virtually all of his 50 years.
``These shows have elements every generation understands,'' he said. ``There's no one who can come close to Lucille Ball. She was like Johnny Carson
The appeal spans both generation and geography alike.
``It was very American, but still very watchable watch·a·ble
1. Capable of being watched; viewable: watchable wildlife.
2. Good enough to watch: "The fastest modem ... for the English,'' said Neal Guthrie, a 40-something editor visiting the theme park museum from Coldchester, England. ``We occasionally have a sense of humor Noun 1. sense of humor - the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous; "she didn't appreciate my humor"; "you can't survive in the army without a sense of humor"
sense of humour, humor, humour .''
The most common theme, offered by businessmen and fans alike, was the show's timeless innocence. What was good clean family fun in the '50s, Bronn said, still rings true today.
``Time stands still with Lucy,'' said Kim Dredge, an information systems trainer from Calgary. ``You're transported back with her, and it's comforting.''
Photo: (1 -- 4 -- color) This doll, far left, sold at the Lucy Shop at Universal Studios, depicts Lucy dressed as Brazilian bombshell bomb·shell
1. An explosive bomb.
2. One that is sensationally shocking, surprising, or amazing.
a shocking or unwelcome surprise
Noun 1. Carmen Miranda ''
Carmen Miranda, pron. IPA: ['kaɾme͂j mi'rɐ͂dɐ], (February 9, 1909 – August 5, 1955); birth name Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha, GCIH) was a Portuguese-born Brazilian . A continuously running video display at Universal Studios shows segments of various ``I Love Lucy'' episodes. From lunch boxes to license plate reproductions, above, America still loves Lucy - and Lucy merchandise.
(5) no caption (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Desi Arnaz (born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III) (March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986) was a Cuban musician, actor, comedian and television producer. Early life
Desi Arnaz was born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba's second largest city, to a wealthy family. )