Within the fandom annals, before Gleeks and Trekkies roamed convention halls, there were -- and still are -- Lucy fans; a fervent bunch that communes frequently to pay homage to TV's greatest female sitcom pioneer. Like Frank Sinatra fans, it's easy to peg them as a blue hair bunch, however, Ball-dom pervades far beyond the Gen X crowd who grew up watching I Love Lucy reruns at their grandmother's house. Lucy fever, quite alarmingly, has also affected millennials like Glee hottie Dianna Agron, who days before Ball's Aug. 6 birthday, smartly referred to her co-star Jane Lynch on Jimmy Fallon as "our Lucille Ball -- who I was obsessed with growing up. Am I the only one who knows who Lucille Ball is?"
Appropriately commemorating Ball's legend, the Hollywood Museum and CBS DVD celebrated the star's 100th birthday and I Love Lucy at 60 years by packing more fans at the Max Factor building Thursday than the orchestra section at a Lady Gaga concert. Folks respectfully ducked their heads so that stars such as Valerie Harper, Rip Taylor, Carolyn Hennesy and Ruta Lee could catch a glimpse of the surviving I Love Lucy legends on stage: Actress Shirley Mitchell (who played Marion Strong on the show), editor Dann Cahn, music composer Arthur Hamilton, writer Bob Schiller as well as daughter Lucie Arnaz, publicist Tom Watson, Desilu production executive Bernard Weitzman and Ball's personal secretary Wanda Clark. If there was an appropriate place to throw a ball for Ball, it was here - the building where the actress dyed her auburn hair to classic red during the run of her '50s sitcom. And the birthday party isn't over. Throughout this weekend, there will be Lucy festivities, from a Hallmark Channel marathon to a record gathering of redhead impersonators in Ball's hometown of Jamestown, New York.
Sprawled throughout the second floor of Max Factor until November 30 is a fresh array of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz memorabilia featuring hats from I Love Lucy, comic books, board games and costumes from her late '60s/early 70s series Here's Lucy. Today, Lucy merchandising continues to grace chocolate bar wrappers and Barbie dolls.