- Written by Todd Moning
Jamestown , N.Y., is in love. The traces are everywhere — on signs, in shops, on murals and in restaurants around town.
Jamestown, located approximately 70 miles southwest of Buffalo, is the birthplace and hometown of Lucille Ball and her "I Love Lucy" TV character, Lucy Ricardo. The town is is emboldened by the comedienne who threw herself into one unenviable — but comical — situation after another in the 1950s. Monday nights at 9. Remember?
Lucille Ball maintained ties to Jamestown all her life, and the town reciprocates. The Lucy-Desi Days festival takes place there each May, and Lucy's Birthday Celebration is in August.
Perhaps Jamestown 's biggest homage to the actress is the Lucy-Desi Museum , which opened in May 1996 downtown. Fans of the "I Love Lucy" show or TV nostalgia in general will enjoy this museum, which chronicles the lives of Lucy and Desi and their contributions to early television.
"I Love Lucy" aired from 1951 to 1957, winning five Emmy awards. Real-life husband-and-wife Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz portrayed the main characters, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. William Frawley and Vivian Vance played the Ricardo's neighbors, landlords and best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz.
A half-century after it first flashed onto black-and-white screens, "I Love Lucy" continues to generate new legions of fans.
One of the most popular attractions at the Lucy-Desi Museum is a video that plays continuously in a special screening area. "The video is a lot of fun," said Pat Brininger, the museum's marketing director. "It shows clips from 'I love Lucy' in which Lucy Ricardo makes references to Jamestown."
The names of Lucy's real-life friends from Jamestown often were used for characters' names in the show, Brininger said. The video includes interviews with some of these friends, who talk about growing up with Lucy.
At the museum, visitors can follow Lucy's and Desi's life stories and acting careers through audio and video segments and larger-than-life wall panels. Watch historic "I Love Lucy" episodes. View family scrapbooks created by the couple's daughter, Lucie Arnaz.
Watch excerpts of Lucie Arnaz's documentary Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie. Peruse costumes and personal memorabilia used on the show. Test your "I Love Lucy" knowledge through interactive displays.
Lucille Ball appeared in 79 movies, Brininger said. "She was actually a serous movie actress before she was on television. She was known as queen of the B movies and was really a top actress at that level."
The museum changes its exhibit theme each year. Past themes include "Lucy and Desi in the movies."
You should know
The museum is located at 10 W. Third St. in Jamestown, which is about an hour and a half from Buffalo-Niagara. It is wheelchair accessible and houses a gift shop containing large assortment of Lucy merchandise. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (60 and older) and $7 for ages 6 to 18.
The on-street parking areas near the museum may not accommodate larger motorhomes. Driving a towed vehicle is advised.
For more information, including visitor hours, visit www.lucy-desi.com or call (877) 582-9326.