Lee Tannen knew legendary actress Lucille Ball like few others. A distant cousin of her second husband, Gary Morton, Tannen met Ball as a child. Some 25 years later, they became very close friends; from 1980 until her death in 1989 (save for a riff that lasted more than a year).
In his book, I Loved Lucy: My Friendship with Lucille Ball, Tannen gives a intimate look at the private self and world of one of television’s most popular performers. When not traveling for various events, functions or vacations, the two spent much of their time together simply playing Ball’s favorite game, backgammon, at her Beverly Hills home. Aside from offering lots of interesting anecdotes and insights, I Loved Lucy also gives readers some details about Ball’s only unsuccessful series, 1986’s Life with Lucy. It was dumped by ABC after eight episodes had aired.
I Loved Lucy was first published in 2001 and Tannen has since adapted it into a two-person stage play. It’s currently being presented at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, California. The production runs until Halloween afternoon and stars Jeffry Denman (as Lee) and Diane Findlay (as Lucy).
The play will surely be produced in other venues. Just in case you can’t wait for that or can’t attend the current production, here are some clips from I Loved Lucy.