Academic journal article Journal of American & Comparative Cultures

Laughs, Luck ... and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time

Academic journal article Journal of American & Comparative Cultures

Laughs, Luck ... and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time

Article excerpt

Laughs, Luck ... and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time. Jess Oppenheimer, with Gregg Oppenheimer. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

While there has been a multitude of books written about Lucille Ball, Desi Arnez, and the I Love Lucy show, there has been very little written on the script writing and backstage aspects of the series. Jess Oppenheimer, writer and producer of the sitcom, provides just this in his new autobiography. Beginning by defining a memoir as "an incompete history of episodes in my life" (xvii), he then proceeds to provide a loosely written account of his life up until and including his leaving the show in 1956. Humorously written, Oppenheimer begins by discussing those events in his childhood that he believed had a significant impact on his career. Interestingly, he credits much of his future success to his undiagnosed double vision. This condition, he explains, forced him to become an acute observer of human behavior and to develop a sense of humor. He then chronicles his career and at the same time provides readers with a personalized history of early radio and television. Also included are wonderful anecdotes about celebrities that he worked with such as Fred Astaire, Fanny Brice, and Harry Cohn.

A majority of the autobiography focuses on Oppenheimer's years as head writer on the radio show My Favorite Husband, where he first met Lucy, and then the I Love Lucy show. Working with writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr., on both shows, Oppenheimer describes the intensive work inolved backstage in writing and producing the weekly half hour show. …

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