Lucille Ball's Two Least Favorite TV Guest Stars

Categories: TV

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When Bette Davis dropped out of a guest role on The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, they naturally got Tallulah Bankhead to fit the arm-swiveling bill.

Who was a mess.

According to the new book Lucille Ball FAQ, Tallu came to work intoxicated, crashed a production meeting, and when Lucy complimented her on her sweater, she simply took it off and gave it to her!

Vivian Vance then cracked that she liked Tallu's pants, so the actress took those off, too, revealing nothing underneath!

She sounds like a great guest, actually.

Lucy's other least favorite star to work with was ...

Joan Crawford.

During rehearsals of The Lucy Show, Lucy caught Joan drinking vodka out of her purse.

Crawford started showing up late and/or totally missing rehearsals.

And when she did show up, she became panic-stricken and had to be coaxed into going on.

But the worst moment was when Lucy found a woman scrubbing the floor of Joan's dressing room and at first didn't even realize it was nutty Joan herself!

Joan was mad at the dirt and Lucy was mad at the douche.



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28 comments
Jhburch
Jhburch

Man if I had to work with Lucy I would have been drunk too! No need for her to be so mean to Crawford.

CMG
CMG

The Tallulah Bankhead story seems true, at least the 'no underwear' part.  She had been doing that all the way back to the filming of Lifeboat (considering she had to climb up a ladder to the soundstage where the boat scenes had been elevated, every castmember saw all of Tallulah).  

Melinda9
Melinda9

Vivian Vance must have been able to stand up to Lucille - she worked with her for years. But she sounds like a very funny lady ('I like your pants.')

Musto
Musto

The book says that later in her career, without Desi, Lucy treated people she worked with as her enemies because they could steal scenes from her. At one reading, Vivian Vance was getting a lot of laughs, so Lucy cut all the lines! Vivian said "Well, I'm going to say them anyway whether you answer me or not, so you'd better save face and put them back in the script." Lucy did so.

Musto
Musto

I'm reading another book about Lucy right now and it specifies that Joan was drinking vodka through straws in a paper bag in her purse. But it also says that Lucy was really mean to her and berated her in front of everyone, making Joan cry about her dancing. Lucy was like that at this point in her career, insecure without Desi.

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

Recommended reading, in addition to Maria Riva's eye-opening "Marlene", is "The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood" by Diana McLellan.  In comparison to Deitrich and Garbo, Bankhead comes out seeming by far the most human of the three; her last words were allegedly "codeine... bourbon..."

Musto
Musto

Yes, and we'll always love Joanie for that (and other things)

squirleen
squirleen

Speaking of obstreperous guest stars, didn't Joan Blondell say "Fuck you, Lucille Ball" before storming off the set?

L. LeSueur
L. LeSueur

I insist that every word of "Mommie Dearest" is true.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

 Of course, Tallulah was letter-perfect when they taped that "Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" and the result is one of the funniest Lucy episodes ever. The baritone babe got gales of laughter simply with the inflections she gave a line.

My favorite: "When Miss Bankhead is bored, Miss Bankhead will let you know.""

Randy Jones
Randy Jones

Oh Dear Michael...the tales they tell about us AFTER we're gone. Thank Gawd we have you to tell the really juicy ones while we are alive...I'm back in NYC to film and I LOVE you, you Big Doll. xoxoRJ

franco
franco

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?Marlene Dietrich's view on floors was that the only way to truly clean them was by hand. 

Maria Riva, in her memoir of her mother, frequently mentioned MD's habit of carrying around cleaning products with her whenever she travelled, and fastidiously disinfecting every hotel bathroom attached to every room she stayed in.

j
j

Miss Ball's last attempt at a television series was a 1986 show called Life With Lucy, which failed miserably after 8 episodes aired (although 13 were produced). I heard the plot of one of the unaired episodes involved the geriatric stars Lucy and Gale Gordon sneaking into the graveyard to dig up Vivian Vance's remains after Lucy remembers Viv was buried wearing an expensive ring she let her best buddy borrow and forgot about. A scene featuring (the nearly senile) Mr. Gordon shoveling piles of dirt in Ms. Ball's face--right before she tumbles into the burial plot on top of him--is said by many to be equal to some of the many classic moments on the original "I Love Lucy" series.

Musto
Musto

Then  it was all worthwhile.

EK
EK

Michael this story is what  inspired Clark and David to invent The Dueling Bankheads . Come t think of it you must know that already:)

Delphyne
Delphyne

No, she used Bon Ami powder.

DeMedeiros Carlos Luis
DeMedeiros Carlos Luis

Such priceless memories...Can you pictures those events in a full length movie?I will pay if they even come to compilation.even in a Disney Pixar production.

Timmee
Timmee

Was she also using the vodka to scrub the floor? It kills germs.

Rabbit
Rabbit

Anyone who thinks becoming rich and famous is going to "solve everything" need only remember Joan Crawford.

Delphyne
Delphyne

I bet Joan skipped the bottle and just filled the purse.

Rob in Philly
Rob in Philly

I'm picturing a purse filled to the rim with vodka (not a purse w. a bottle inside). 

Musto
Musto

Yeah, Viv was cool. At this point, Viv didn't care that much about TV stardom and had to be convinced to be part of the show. So she wasn't taking any guff from Lucy.

Movielover
Movielover

She always came across as witchy-poo to me, and not funny.  Very predictable, cliche, making that stupid "Whaaaaa..." sound.  Ick.  I liked The Honeymooners better.

JEWISHPRINCESS0
JEWISHPRINCESS0

I have always heard that Lucy was mean to everyone.She was rough tough and tumble...not Lucy Ricardo.

JEWISHPRINCESS0
JEWISHPRINCESS0

I loved Tallulah. She had the sense of the dramatic that gave me courage.

Movielover
Movielover

She also liked to put all pills up her ass rather than swallowing them.

Melinda9
Melinda9

Lucy Ricardo and Ralph Kramden - I love both those characters. Loser/dreamers married to practical wet blankets.

Kendall
Kendall

Never heard anyone use the term "mean" before. Matter-of-fact, intimidating, controlling, yes, but also professional, generous, and of course, funny. There were few people that anything worse than unpleasant encounters with Ms. Ball, while Joan Crawford wasn't too popular at all... 

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