Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Show Must Go On

Lucille Ball in Ziegfeld Follies (MGM, 1945)
"I'm so anxious to be in [The Greatest Show on Earth], I'd practically stick my head in one of the elephants' mouths." -- Lucille Ball to Hedda Hopper, November 27, 1950

"Lucille Ball last week joined the 'parade of stars' Cecil B. DeMille is lining up for his circus picture, The Greatest Show on Earth. The red-haired beauty gets a choice spot in the film, that of Angel, the elephant girl..." -- "In Hollywood" column, December 10, 1950

Lucille Ball in Meet the People (MGM, 1944)
"Before she hits the sawdust trail, Lucille will co-star with John Agar in The Magic Carpet for Columbia. [Lucille says,] 'What's it about? A magic carpet, I guess. I do think this is the kind of script they break contracts over, but I never fight. I never got anywhere by fighting. I always do what I'm told to do.'" -- "In Hollywood" column, December 12, 1950

Lucille Ball in The Magic Carpet (Columbia, 1951)
"Lucille Ball has informed Cecil B. DeMille that imminent motherhood will prevent her from appearing in his movie about the Ringling Bros. circus...Paulette Goddard will replace Miss Ball in the film..." -- Leonard Lyons' column, December 29, 1950

Paulette Goddard and Richard Ney in Babes in Bagdad (United Artists, 1952)
"Gloria Grahame was signed recently to complete the bracket of seven stars for Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth...Miss Grahame will portray the role of the elephant girl from which Lucille Ball recently withdrew because of impending motherhood." -- "In Hollywood" column, February 4, 1951

Gloria Grahame in The Greatest Show on Earth (Paramount, 1952)

"CBS is really plunging into Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz [series] being prepped for...fall showing..." -- Edith Gwynn's column, February 24, 1951
Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy ("Lucy Gets into Pictures," Season 4, Episode 18, originally aired February 21, 1955)


  1. In Magic Carpet, the advise Lucy gives is sound, always do as you're told! Nice pics.

    1. Lucille agreed to make Magic Carpet as a very smart power play with Harry Cohn of Columbia. She desperately wanted to do the DeMille film, but when she asked Cohn to loan her out, he sadistically cast her in Magic Carpet -- knowing that it was such an awful script that Ball would refuse to do it, then he could suspend her, and refuse the loan out. (Why he didn't want to collect the loan out fee Columbia would be paid is anyone's guess.) Instead, Lucille called his bluff and cheerfully accepted the film, knowing that it was a quickie that would be wrapped by the time it came to film Greatest Show. Of course, fate intervened and Lucille never got to make Greatest Show...but if she had, perhaps she never would have made HER greatest show on earth, I Love Lucy...

  2. With one picture remaining on her Columbia contract, Desi went into business mode and told Lucy to "grab her $85,000 fee & run". It was a 6 day shoot and so lousy that no one would bother to see the film anyway. Lucy also learned that she was at long last, pregnant and most likely wouldn't have been able to do "Greatest Show" anyway. Lucy told Harry Cohn she was pregnant only after the film had been completed. Cohn reportedly called her a "bitch" and was incensed at having to pay her contracted fee. Cecil Demille, upon seeing Desi shortly thereafter is quoted as saying "Congratulations Mr. Arnaz, You are the only man to ever screw his wife, Cecil B. Demille, Paramount Pictures and Harry Cohn, all at the same time."