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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Recreating history

I mentioned Lucie and Desi Arnaz being in town in July 2010; they attended our July 4th celebration, but they were really here to recreate history. This story is from July 9, 2010, when Lucie and Desi, Jr. came to recreate a famous I Love Lucy photo. Lucie has a lot of history with the Grove, she used to live here and her play, "Sonia Flew" is the last play to be shown at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, still in production when the playhouse closed in April 2006.

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Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. stopped by Coconut Grove again today, (here they are with Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Frank Carollo) to recreate a famous photograph. This is how it all happened . . .

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In January, my friend Harry (Emilio Gottlieb) and I were having lunch at Focaccia and he told me about a story he read in the NY Times about the Desi Arnaz Orchestra doing some shows in New York City, he said he would love to get them down here where they would have a huge audience. They have always had a history with Miami, even this old photo shows them at City Hall in Coconut Grove in 1954, with then mayor, Randy Christmas, giving the whole I Love Lucy cast the key to the city.

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Harry made a couple of calls and managed to track down someone with the New York show, they told him that they would have someone call Harry back to discuss his idea.

Within 20 minutes, Lucie Arnaz called Harry directly, from Connecticut, and therein started their friendship. Harry persuaded Lucie and Desi Jr. to come to Miami for what turned out to be their current performances at the Arsht Center, and he told me about the old photo. His idea was to get Lucie and Desi, Jr. to recreate it when in town. I held the photo and the idea until May, when I published it here, once I knew they were at least coming to town to perform, no one knew whether they would recreate the photo. But here it is above, recreated this afternoon, with the original above that.


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Today at 3 pm, Lucie and Desi, Jr. were great sports and they agreed to stand in the brutal summer sun to recreate the famous picture, bringing the whole Lucy/Lucie and Desi/Desi, Jr. image full circle. First there was a press conference inside the City Hall Chambers where they spoke of their history with Miami. Lucie and her husband, Larry Luckinbill's daughter graduated from UM and their grandfather lived in Coral Gables all the years after he arrived from Cuba. They posed for lots of photos with city officials in City Hall and did a bunch of tv interviews and then everyone headed outside to recreate the photo.

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Lucie has a great history with Coconut Grove, she actually lived right down the block from me for a bit and she has the dubious honor of performing in the last show at the Coconut Grove Playhouse before it shut down (Sonia Flew, in April 2006). It was having money problems and she put her own money into the show so that the show could go on. Her name was on the marquis for quite some time after the playhouse closed and people would read it daily for months as they drove by. Lucie talked about the playhouse and how sad it is that it closed, hoping that it will reopen soon.

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I was thrilled to meet Lucie and Desi, Jr. this Fourth of July at Peacock Park. To meet part of Hollywood royalty was quite an honor and thrill. I have been a Lucille Ball fan probably since the first day my mother sat me in front of the tv as a baby. Today, again, they were very sweet and patient with the crowd on hand and they remembered us and others from the other day.

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So here's today's recreation, Mayor Tomas Regalado is there, with the key to the city and Lucie is holding the gift basket and Desi, Jr. has the Diario De Las Americas, just like his father in the original. On the left is Cuban singer Lita Del Real and the older man in center is Horatio Aguirre, founder of El Diario. Commissioners Frank Carollo, to Desi's right, and Willie Gort, second from left, complete the recreation. Desi jokingly asked, "Who's playing Fred?"

Lucie and Desi were great sports and made a lot of people happy today. She told me that she liked the pair of maracas that were in the gift basket and may use them in their concert.

Lucie and Desi, Jr. opened last night, July 8 at the Arsht Center with their "Babalu" concert and will perform through the weekend. Tickets may be purchased here.

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