Lucille Ball is being remembered on what would have been her 105th birthday, and her hometown is doing her proud. Ball, who was born on August 6, 1911, is being commemorated with a brand new, life-size bronze statue in her birthplace of Celoron, New York.
The statue will replace the controversial “Scary Lucy” statue that was unveiled in Lucille Ball Memorial Park seven years ago, according to NPR. You can get a peek at the more flattering Lucille Ball statue, which was created by sculptor Carolyn Palmer, below.
Palmer spent countless hours researching Lucille Ball by studying photos and watching old episodes of the comedy legend’s signature sitcom, I Love Lucy. In addition, Palmer hired three models, who wore-style dresses, to pose for the piece.
“I not only wanted to portray the playful, animated and spontaneous Lucy, but also the glamorous icon. I just hope that all the Lucy fans are pleased and that Lucille Ball herself would have enjoyed this image of her.”
In a phone interview with CBS News, Palmer said creating the redo of the Lucille Ball statue was “completely intimidating.” The artist had the most difficulty trying to capture Lucille’s penchant for wearing “sort of painted-on makeup.”
“She’s a stunning woman. I had to do a little bit of exaggerating in certain areas to bring that out,” Palmer said.
The original Lucille Ball statue created by artist Dave Poulin was slammed for its unflattering portrayal of the I Love Lucy star. After Lucy fans expressed outrage over the “ugly” 400-pound bronze Lucille Ball statue — a Facebook page devoted to getting rid of the monstrous-looking piece garnered national attention — Poulin apologized and offered to fix the original sculpture for free. The town’s mayor passed on the offer and hired a committee to vet 60 artists. But the original statue of Ball has become such a tourist attraction that it is actually being moved to a new location.
While she was best known for her TV sitcoms I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show, Lucille Ball had a long career as a model, a Broadway chorus girl, and movie star — she was even a Goldwin girl. And speaking of statues, Ball even posed as a statue in a classic I Love Lucy episode, “The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue.”
In a 1980 interview with People, Lucille Ball said she started her comedy career as a way to keep her bandleader husband, Desi Arnaz, off the road. She also revealed that she had an edge earlier in her career because Eddie Cantor and Sam Goldwyn found that a lot of the really beautiful girls wouldn’t do some of the things she would do.
“I put on mud packs and scream and run around and fall into pools. I said I’d love to do the scene with the crocodile. He didn’t have teeth, but he could sure gum you to death. I didn’t mind getting messed up. That’s how I got into physical comedy.”
Ball, who died in 1989 at the age of 77, also explained why she wasn’t ready to write her memoir.
“I don’t think you should write a book until you tell the absolute truth,” Lucille said. “You can’t do that until you’re 85, and I don’t want to live that long. I’ve always prided myself on knowing when to get off and I hope it works out that way.”
The unveiling of the new statue is just one of many Lucille Ball celebrations in store for the comedy queen’s 105th birthday, including TV marathons and a festival in her hometown.
Take a look at the video below to see Lucille Ball getting emotional after winning an Emmy Award.
[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]