Nightly News | August 05, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Finally tonight, a big day for a woman so many people loved. Lucille Ball , one of the funniest women ever and a shrewd businesswoman besides, would have been 100 years old tomorrow. To celebrate her centennial, the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles is taking a look back at the extraordinary life of a woman many considered a genius, even if it took Hollywood years to realize it. NBC 's Lee Cowan reports.
LEE COWAN reporting: She was so good at cracking jokes, most people forget that it was Lucille Ball 's good looks that got her foot in the door . The mousy brunette first made her mark in Hollywood as a blonde bombshell. It wasn't until Max Factor got a hold of her in this very room that she became America 's favorite redhead.
Mr. STEVE NYCKLEMOE (Hollywood Museum Curator): She's just Lucille Ball . She's a legend. You say her name, you just feel good.
Mr. DESI ARNAZ: Lucille Ball .
COWAN: Lovable Lucy would be 100 years old tomorrow and Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet, not only for Lucy , but for her Emmy -winning sitcom, too.
Ms. LUCILLE BALL: We're trying real hard and we're going to keep it up.
COWAN: She did. " I Love Lucy " is still in reruns and it turns 60 this year.
Ms. ALISON ARNGRIM (Comedian): You know, when someone says, 'You have a lot of 'splaining to do,' we all know immediately what you're referring to.
COWAN: The collection of posters, costumes and behind the scenes moments is a fitting tribute, her daughter says, to both a clown and a pioneer.
Ms. LUCIE ARNAZ (Lucille Ball's Daughter): Sixty years later, the little show that she was hoping would be nice home movies, you know, in case it was a flop, has brought so much joy and so much healing to a planet.
COWAN: TV immortalized her as the happy housewife, married on the show and in real life to a once unknown Cuban band leader named Desi Arnaz .
Ms. DANELLE DADIGAN (Hollywood Museum President): Truly, without Desi Arnaz , there wouldn't be a Desilu and there wouldn't be an "I Love Lucy ."
COWAN: But it's true the woman with a talent for timing made 40 films on her own before she ever met Ricky Ricardo .
COWAN: But it's that humor that we'll all remember, as funny today as she ever was. In the medium that goes by in a flash, everybody still loves Lucy . Lee Cowan , NBC News , Hollywood .