Laughs, Luck...and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time by Jess Oppenheimer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lucille Ball was the funny female face of a generation. But as anyone knows, the star of the show is just a small part of the whole operation. The key to the success of I Love Lucy fell into the capable hands of Jess Oppenheimer, a man with a remarkable story that led him to work on one of the most celebrated television shows of all time.
Jess Oppenheimer's story starts out simply enough in San Francisco with his family. The one setback that Oppenheimer had throughout his childhood and early adulthood was poor sight that made him have double vision. This led to many confusing and amusing situations.
Where Oppenheimer's professional story starts is in radio. Although he had what some would consider dumb luck in getting into the profession. He just hung around his favorite radio station. Eventually, this led to a job. A variety of jobs and radios stations later, he ends up working with Lucille Ball in My Favorite Husband. When he's turned over to television, the real magic happens (including Oppenheimer creating and patenting one of the first versions of the teleprompter; who knew?).
The actual biography is relatively short. Most of the book's content is reproduced radio and television scripts, photos and other important historic documents. As a writer, I was especially interested in reading the scripts, knowing both the radio program and the TV show so well. Oppenheimer's detail in the biography and in the scripts on just how precise a script had to be to take an ordinary situation and turn it into slapstick comedy is enlightening. Any who want to read more about the technical side of classic radio and television will definitely enjoy this book.
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