Statuesque, NY: New Lucy wows in Celoron, birthplace of First Lady of Comedy
CELORON – A bronze statue of Lucille Ball graces a park in Celoron, Ball’s hometown near Jamestown. The statue was unveiled on Aug. 6 after much controversy and international ridicule for the first statue of the First Lady of Comedy, a work of art that became known as “Scary Lucy.”
I saw the statue on Saturday evening. It definitely has the “wow effect” and drew a crowd of people with cameras. One group was from Rochester.
I grew up in Chautauqua County and was home Saturday for my cousin’s wedding. (I missed the Steampunk Festival on Saturday at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina.)
But I had to see Lucy. My 10-year-old daughter is named Lucy and seeing the new statue was a fun ending to an eventful day back home.
I’m also on the committee in Albion that wants to have a Santa statue in honor of Charles Howard, the man who started a Santa Claus School and who portrayed Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parades for nearly 20 years. Howard died 50 years ago, but the Santa School continues in his name in Midland, Mich.
I think a Santa statue could be a draw for Albion. After seeing the Lucy statue in tiny Celoron, I’m more convinced a Santa statue would be a fitting tribute for Howard and an attraction for Albion. (A group in Medina also is working on a bronze statue of a World War I soldier that would go outside the former Armory, now the YMCA on Pearl Street.)
Carolyn Palmer was hired to create the new sculpture of Ball, picked out of 60 proposals for the project.
The statue was unveiled to much hoopla on Aug. 6, which would have been Ball’s 105th birthday.
Mark & Jetta Wilson wanted to recognize Celoron’s most famous daughter in 2009. A bronze statue was commissioned. It was a horrible depiction. Four years ago a public movement began to replace Scary Lucy (right) with a better tribute of Ball.
The money was initially slow in coming in, but a Massachusetts car dealer and numerous anonymous donors stepped forward.
Palmer watched and rewatched episodes of I Love Lucy, the groundbreaking sitcom that made Ball a TV star in the 1950s. Palmer sought to capture Ball’s movements and a sense of the ’50s era.
“I not only wanted to portray the playful, animated and spontaneous Lucy, but also the glamorous icon,” Palmer told Richard Gonzales of NPR. “I just hope that all the Lucy fans are pleased and that Lucille Ball herself would have enjoyed this image of her.”
“Scary Lucy” was sculpted by artist Dave Poulin. This statue depicts Ball holding a bottle of the fictional nutrition elixir Vitameatavegamin from the 1952 “I Love Lucy” episode “Lucy Does a TV Commercial.”
This bronze figure has been compared to a menacing zombie. A Facebook group, “We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue” formed to push for the new likeness of Lucy.
Poulin publicly apologized for his “most unsettling sculpture” in an April 2015 letter to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I take full responsibility for ‘Scary Lucy,’ though by no means was that my intent or did I wish to disparage in any way the memories of the iconic Lucy image,” Poulin wrote in the letter.
Celoron has kept Scary Lucy at the Lucille Ball Memorial Park. It’s the first statue that greets you. Scary Lucy is an attraction, and is rumored to be destined for the new Comedy Hall of Fame in Jamestown.
Scary Lucy is freaky. It is a sharp contrast to the new Lucy. Having the old statue near the new one shows how graceful the new one is of Lucy.
The Lucy statue includes the nice touch of having her standing on a replica of her Hollywood star.
After the statue was unveiled to much fanfare on Aug. 6, the crowd assembled sang the theme song to “I Love Lucy” and “Happy Birthday” to Lucy.
The site has stayed popular for people seeking selfies with one of the most famous women of the 20th Century.