Monday, April 09, 2007

An Interview With Author David C. Tucker Pt. 1

The Long Live Lucy Forum is proud to present an original interview with author David C. Tucker regarding his book The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms and Lucille Ball.

The Women Who Made Television Funny

1. Why did you decide to write a book about the leading ladies of 1950s sitcoms?

So much has been written about our movie history, but less about our TV heritage. I love old movies, and their stars, but I wanted to know more about the pioneering stars who made the TV sitcoms I grew up loving. I read a book about ten film actresses from the Golden Age of Movies, and that sparked an idea – I started making my own “Top Ten” list.

2. Many of the actresses in your book have passed away. Was it difficult uncovering their stories?

I was lucky enough to get interviews with two who are still very much with us – My Little Margie’s Gale Storm, and Betty White. I also interviewed people who knew or worked with these ladies, including Eve Arden’s son Doug, writer/producer Sherwood Schwartz, and others. I spent a great deal of time doing library research, and screening these actresses’ TV shows and movies. It was also very helpful to be able to collect rare magazine articles and other memorabilia on eBay.

I loved finding out some of the tidbits that I’d never heard before, such as the fact that a Lucy radio comedy was being pitched to sponsors in the mid-1940s, prior to My Favorite Husband – one that would have teamed her with actor Keenan Wynn.

3. Lucille Ball and Betty White have remained household names for over 50 years. What quality do these actresses have (or have more of) than the lesser known actresses in your book?

In Betty White’s case, I think her versatility has kept her working and in the public eye. She’s shown that she can do sitcoms, dramatic shows, game shows, talk shows, and even recently a daytime soap opera. When I asked her this question, however, her response was that she was just “the luckiest old broad on two feet”! She’s a very modest lady.

As for Lucy, I personally don’t think we’ll ever stop loving I Love Lucy. As I said in the introduction to the book, when I watch 1970s sitcoms like All in the Family, they seem to me now more dated than Lucy’s 1950s shows. The people who made I Love Lucy more or less *invented* the TV sitcom, and they’re a hard act to follow.

Betty White
Busy As A Bee: Betty White
Click photo to enlarge.

View part two of this interview.