April 23, 2017 - 10:01 am
The daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz has a thing for Sin City, not to mention the kind of behind-the-scenes stories that could fill a book.
These days, Lucie Arnaz, mother of three and wife of actor Laurence Luckinbill, is in Palm Springs, California, focusing on her career while maintaining her parents’ legacy and working to save a local canyon from development. She is also executive producing a film version of her mother’s life starring Cate Blanchett.
Review-Journal: Tell us about your typical Sunday.
Arnaz: “There is no typical Sunday. My calendar often looks like Walt Disney threw up on it. Sometimes I have to remind myself it is Sunday. If it’s a pretty day maybe we take some friends out to brunch or I’ll cook. The truth is, I never felt as if I needed a weekend. I love what I do.”
Let’s clear up a longtime rumor: Do you live in Boulder City, Nevada?
“No. I’ve been in Palm Springs for the last four years.
So much has been written about your parents’ divorce, but what were they like as a couple in love?
“There were so many younger and happier years before things got bad where you can see the smiles of a couple in love. They were both incredible flirts with each other. They found joy in our family life and taking home movies of the kids. But once they had a hit TV show, life became stressful.”
Let’s talk about your time in Vegas. Why is the town special to you?
“I got my love of music from my father and he sang in Vegas a lot. I’d go see his show there. When I was 10 and through my teen years, I would go to Vegas with my mother on weekends, and I had a fantastic education in the Great American Songbook. One night in Vegas, we’d go see Sinatra and the next it would be Steve and Edie or Wayne Newton. Mother knew everyone.”
What was (Lucille Ball’s) favorite way to gamble in Vegas?
“Oh, Mother would go off and play blackjack for the weekend and I’d see six shows in a row. My mother was a huge fan of Wayne Newton and she thought that was an easy show for me to see when I was younger because there weren’t a lot of curse words.”
You had a little crush on Wayne?
(Laughter) “I majored in Wayne Newton in Vegas when I was a teenager. One day, Wayne called our room at the Sands and said to me, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll pick you up. I want you to meet my folks.’ I translated that to ‘he’s going to propose.’
“So the next day, Wayne Newton drove his Rolls-Royce up to the Sands, picked me up and took me to his house for breakfast where I met his folks. His mom made us breakfast and he never proposed!”
What’s the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Well, I did get some great advice from her friend Elizabeth Taylor, who said to use toothpaste to clean your jewelry. It also works with silver frames. As for my mother, she wasn’t really an advice giver, per se. She was practical. Mother was also very straightforward about taking care of your health. She had been sick a few times in life where she was unable to do anything. It kept her aware of the fact that you could have everything pulled out from underneath you if you’re not able.”
Can you give us an update about the proposed film version of your mother’s life?
“That’s absolutely happening. Todd Black and Escape Artists Productions came to us and want to tell the story of my mother and father. It’s a bitch to tell and not be depressing because we know they split. But it’s also quite a love story. Of course, I was a bit wary. There have been people who have tried to do a film before, but this group said, ‘We have someone in mind who wants to play your mother. Cate Blanchett is dying to do this. She adores your mother.’ ”
Have you met with the Oscar winner?
“I did meet with Cate, and the first thing she did was talk about how difficult it was to combine the enormous amount of success my parents had with raising a family. Cate does the same thing. She stars in films, runs a theater company and has a husband and children, so she understands. I’ve been told that Aaron Sorkin wants to write the screenplay, which blew my mind, and Amazon is producing.”
The million-dollar question: Who could play your father?
“I have someone in mind and he doesn’t have to be Cuban or Spanish. We need someone who can act the crap out of it, plus be funny and sexy in a self-deprecating, smart way. As for the rest, I’m an executive producer and maybe I’ll do a cameo. It does make me happy that Cate will go to the heart of my Mother for all the right reasons and not make this a tabloid look at her life. It’s hard to portray my parents because they’re still on TV everyday and so fresh in everyone’s minds.”
Speaking of which, you’re channel surfing and land on “I Love Lucy.” Do you watch?
“I do stop and watch. How can you not? We could all use a good laugh these days.”