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James Sheridan, an interview

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, James Sheridan, co-author of Lucille Ball FAQ (with Barry Monush), joins Patrick Phillips on The Patrick Phillips Show. Re-posted here with permission of Patrick Phillips.

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Although countless books and articles have been written about Lucille Ball, most people know only the surface details of her personal life and some basic facts about her popular television series. Lucille Ball FAQ takes us beyond the “Lucy” character to give readers information that might not be common knowledge about one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. It can be read straight through, but the FAQ format also invites readers to pick it up and dig in at any point. James Sheridan and Barry Monush go beyond the well known facts, making this an indispensable book for all Lucille Ball fans!

Win: Lucille Ball FAQ

Happy Birthday, Lucy! To celebrate 101 years of Lucille Ball, we’re giving you a pop quiz from the class we’ve just made up called “Lucy 101: 101 Years of Lucille Ball.” Post your answers in comments, and the first person to post with all four correct answers AND INCLUDE THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS will win a free copy of Lucille Ball FAQ by James Sheridan and Barry Monush (Applause Books). Ready? You may begin.

1. In what year did I Love Lucy premiere?

2. Why was Lucy’s Broadway debut in opening night of Wildcats delayed?

3. The birth of Lucy’s baby on January 19 became the biggest story in the news the next morning, even overshadowing coverage on the inauguration of which U.S. president?

4. What is the name of Lucy’s second husband?

Pencils down.

Although countless books and articles have been written about Lucille Ball, most people know only the surface details of her personal life and some basic facts about her popular television series. Lucille Ball FAQ takes us beyond the “Lucy” character to give readers information that might not be common knowledge about one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. It can be read straight through, but the FAQ format also invites readers to pick it up and dig in at any point.

I Love… Philip Morris?: Sixty Years After It All Began


Guest blogger: Barry Monush, author of the Screen World series, The Encyclopedia of Hollywood Screen Actors, Everybody’s Talkin’, West Side Story: Music on FilmHollywood Musicals Year by Year, and Lucille Ball FAQ.


What’s left to say about the 60th anniversary of I Love Lucy? If you’ve caught this eternally watchable series somewhere over the past five decades in reruns (yes, I’m pretty sure it’s been rerun a few times in syndication, but don’t quote me on this) you’ve no doubt seen “The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub,” as the October 15, 1951 premiere installment was called. But unless you tuned in to I Love Lucy that night, you’ve probably never seen the full episode the exact way it was first presented; starting with a midget (Johnny Roventini) in a bellhop’s uniform wailing “Call for Philip Morr-i-i-is!!!” (The final image of Lucy and Ethel at the fights actual dissolves back into this image as well).

You see, before it ended up in syndication, this program was seriously addicted to tobacco. Philip Morris was the sponsor, after all, and before we even see Lucille Ball or any of the other cast members show up on the premiere, actor John Stephenson (unidentified) appears on the Ricardos’ iconic apartment set asking the audience if they inhale or not, before extolling the virtues of Philip Morris cigarettes! Once the episode proper begins, all four cast principals eventually light up and cigarettes actually become a pivotal plot point later on. At the show’s mid-point there’s another Philip Morris ad that takes you on location to the original Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas (the one mobster Bugsy … oops, I mean Ben Siegel built), which is fascinating just for the unique period footage, not because another Morris spokesman is encouraging a lady to smoke his brand.

And the famous I Love Lucy heart? Nowhere to be seen; instead, up front, at the interval, and at the end we see a box of Philip Morris cigarettes with stick-figure versions of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz crawling around it!

So, if you grew up with Lucy, like most of us did, be grateful that as a later day syndication viewer you weren’t bombarded with tobacco endorsements, otherwise you might have eagerly answered Johnny’s call and not be here to celebrate the 60th!

Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America’s Favorite Redhead by Barry Monush and James Sheridan

Although countless books and articles have been written about Lucille Ball, most people know only the surface details of her personal life and some basic facts about her popular television series. Lucille Ball FAQ takes us beyond the “Lucy” character to give readers information that might not be common knowledge about one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. It can be read straight through, but the FAQ format also invites readers to pick it up and dig in at any point.

Available now from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.