By AUDREY FISCHER
Items on display in the “I Love Lucy” exhibition are drawn from Library’s collections in a variety of formats, including music, newspapers, films and photographs. The bulk of the items are from the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Collection in the Music Division. Other items were donated or came in through the U.S. Copyright Office.
When Lucie Arnaz consulted her friend Michael Feinstein about what to do with her famous father’s orchestra arrangements, the five-time Grammy winning singer/songwriter didn’t hesitate before replying, “The Library of Congress.”
Feinstein, known for
preserving the repertoire
known as “The
Great American Songbook,”
was also the
archivist of the George
and Ira Gershwin
Collection, which is
housed in the Library of Congress. The Library’s Gershwin Room showcases George’s piano and desk and Ira’s typing table and typewriter.
Feinstein, who has performed on Gershwin’s piano at the Library of Congress, was appointed to the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board in 2000—the year it was established by an act of Congress. So he knew that the archives of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra would be safe in the nation’s library.
In discussions with Music Division curator Raymond White, Lucie Arnaz also agreed to donate her family’s scrapbooks, dating to her parents’ childhoods.
A gift from another heir to the “I Love Lucy” legacy was given to the Library by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of the show’s creator and producer Jess Oppenheimer. Donated to the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, the Jess Oppenheimer Collection includes a nearly complete set of network prints of the show “as originally broadcast,” including original titles and commercials.
The films were transferred to videotape and were recently digitized at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. Visitors to the “I Love Lucy” exhibition—both in person and online—can view selected clips in unprecedented clarity. Items from the Oppenheimer collection on display include his original concept for “I Love Lucy” and the receipt of registration of the original concept for the show (from the Screen Writers’ Guild), dated March 2, 1951).
The front cover of Look Magazine’s
Dec. 25, 1956, issue featuring a photo
by Robert Vose of Lucille Ball, Desi
Arnaz, and Keith
Ricky”) is also included
in the exhibition. Donated to the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division in 1971 by Look’s publisher (Cowles Communications) when the magazine folded, the Look Magazine Photograph Collection comprises some 4 million published and unpublished images made by photographers working for the magazine from 1952–1971. With its coverage of national and international society and culture in the middle decades of the 20th century, it is a rich resource for researchers on a variety of topics, including America’s favorite television couple.
The Prints and Photographs Division is also the source of the Lucy, Ricky and Little Ricky paper dolls that are on display in the exhibition. Created by Whitman Publishing Group in 1953, the dolls and their wardrobes came to the Library through Copyright deposit.
Also through Copyright deposit, the Library’s Serials and Government Publications Division acquired a nearly complete set of “I Love Lucy” comic books—several of which are on display in the exhibition. Published by Dell Comics, the series ran from 1954 through 1962. The Library holds 33 of the 35 issues. Each issue featured a photo of Lucille Ball on the cover.
The Library also holds a complete set (5 issues) of the comic book series titled “The Lucy Show” that ran from June 1963 through June 1964. The show with the same title had a longer run, airing 1962–1968.