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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Buddy B on Andy & Lucy

Today is the birthday of Andy Warhol and Lucille Ball, two American artists who strongly influenced world popular culture. Buddy Beaverhausen pays tribute to two idols.

I met Andy Warhol, briefly, only once in my life. It was at the Bette Midler Art or Bust concert at Radio City Music Hall in the 1980s. We shook hands during intermission near the bar in the lobby. I remember being a bit taken aback by how cold and limp his hand was. I told him how I admired his work and he gave me a perfunctory thank you. It was still a thrill for me.

Forever associated with the Campbell's soup can, Warhol radicalized pop culture with his artwork, movies and photography, marrying commerce with fine arts. I loved reading Andy Warhol's Interview magazine and his book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. I particularly loved his Q&A with Nancy Reagan. Warhol was a Republican, incidentally.

Warhol elevated drag queens to star status in the media. He revolutionized filmmaking and produced The Velvet Underground. Warhol's Factory was his studio for artists, drag queens, musicians, writers, hustlers and porn stars.

Warhol received severe injuries when shot by Valerie Solanas, a Factory hanger-on and stalker, in 1968. He died in 1987 due to complications from unrelated surgery. His creative influence is eternal.

Lucille Ball was an actress who became famous through her comic skills. She was the star of the classic I Love Lucy series with then-husband Desi Arnaz and became a television icon and mogul through Desilu productions. She also starred in The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy.

Lucy starred multiple times with Bob Hope, and with Abbott and Costello and The Marx Brothers, honing her comic skills. She was adept at both drama and comedy in films like Stage Door (1937),  Room Service (1938), Five Came Back ('39), The Big Street (with Henry Fonda in 1942), Yours, Mine & Ours (again with Fonda in '68), the misguided musical version of Mame in '74, and the great 1985 tv-movie, Stone Pillow.

Born in 1911, she died in 1989 at age 77. She was a multi-Emmy winner with a star on Sunset Boulevard.

Remember these two entertainment icon on their birthdays today. Their influence on pop culture can never be overrated.

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