Home » Lucie Arnaz | Award Winning Actress, Singer, Producer, and Grandma!

Lucie Arnaz | Award Winning Actress, Singer, Producer, and Grandma!

by Arthur Wooten
Lucie Arnaz (Photo by Michael Childers)

I can’t imagine there is anyone out there that does not know that Lucie’s parents were Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.

Photo by Michael Childers

Lucie Arnaz has been active in the entertainment industry for over 50 years! I feel like I grew up with Lucie, and I’m sure there are a million others out there who feel the same. Her career started in television when she appeared on The Lucy Show at the age of 11. (The Lucy Show came after the success of I Love Lucy.) I’d better add this, but I can’t imagine there is anyone out there that does not know that Lucie’s parents were Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Lucie continued appearing on television in The Lucie Arnaz Show, Sons and Daughters, The Black Dahlia as well as many more. She simultaneously segued into stage and film.

 

Lucie Co-starring in Here’s Lucie 1968 (Photo:Lucie Arnaz Official Archives)

I saw Lucie on Broadway in the Neil Simon musical They’re Playing Our Song and she was sublime. It’s as if Mr. Simon had written the show for her. She also appeared in Broadway productions of Lost in Yonkers, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Pippin. Her breakout role was in the film The Jazz Singer playing the part of Molly. Lucie continued to act in dozens of feature films, TV movies, and regional theatre. Meanwhile she also appeared in her critically acclaimed nightclub act everywhere from Las Vegas to New York City, as well as throughout Europe.

 

In 2021, Lucie, along with her brother Desi, served as an executive producer of the biopic Being the Ricardos, centered upon her parents’ professional and personal relationship during the time of I Love Lucy.

 

Lucie, you live in Palm Springs now?

Yes, indeed I do! The majesty and the mystical aura of these mountains and the whole native American vibe that penetrates this entire Coachella Valley is so very special and I feel like it’s part of me. When I moved here it was like I had come home. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done and we should have done it ten years sooner. I love New York and I enjoy going back and forth to Los Angeles from time to time, but this is a marvelous place to actually build a nest. And the people here are most of the reasons why we are so comfortable. The mindset is different in Palm Springs. There’s a gratitude and a feeling of respect for nature and just a general feeling of respect for age and health. There’s a lot more humor. People here, many are retired or they work very intense jobs elsewhere, and they come here to unwind and recharge so there’s not a lot of stress going on in Palm Springs. So, when I visit my old haunts like NYC or LA, my heart starts to beat up way too fast, the stress element immediately kicks back in. And I realize how debilitating it’s been to try navigate those places for so many years. I guess I’m just getting to an age where I appreciate the calm and the peace and the beauty.

 

Lucie Celebrates her Latin Roots 2010 (Photo:Douglas Denoff)

And the place to be in Palm Springs is the Purple Room! Are you considered a regular there?

I don’t think I’m considered a regular there. I’ve done one show there, but I’ve done it three times. The first show sold out, so they booked it again, and that sold out so they booked it again. And it sold out again. I love playing the Purple Room. Absolutely love it. I love Michael Holmes who bought the place and turned it into the incredible super club that it is today. And the finest talent in our country is now playing there on a regular basis. Which makes us in Palm Springs feel very lucky that we don’t have to travel too far to see great singers because they come to us and play the Purple Room. I love the audiences here, they’re very savvy and smart and funny and they get the jokes and it’s a great place to actually try out shows because if this audience likes it you know it’s going to be a big success in someplace like New York City.

 

Here in New York City, your cabaret show at 54 Below was such a hit, they’re bringing you back. Will it be the same show, “I Got The Job!” or a new show?

I thought about it and thought about it, because it was so weird to be invited back twice with the same show. That just never happens. They never invite you back with the same show. Even once, much less twice. And the third time to be invited back and extend it to 5 nights, I just thought maybe I was outwearing my welcome, if you know what I mean. I certainly don’t’ want change up the show just because I’m coming back to 54 below. The show is of a piece and it’s not easy to just take a number out, take a story out, drop another number in. I’d totally have to start from scratch or bring in one of my other shows which I don’t want to do either. So, I think we came up with a pretty good compromise. I said I would come back for 3 nights, not 5. And I’d like them to explain in the description when they market it that these were the 3 nights they could have sold had I had 3 more nights the last time I was there. So, this is the exact same show.

 

How was your experience working this room?

It’s a fabulous room to play. The sound is amazing for the performer on stage. And I’ve been in the audience and it’s equally fabulous for people listening. They give you some very interesting lighting in that room, which you usually don’t get in small clubs. The team that work the lights and sound and the team that turns the room over each night, because they do two full shows with two different people; they are such professionals and easy to work with. A delightful staff and they always make me feel very much at home, so I look forward to working with them, any time they ask.

 

And how did it feel to be back in New York City?

It’s always great to be back in New York, but don’t want to live there anymore. Too damn many people in Times Square. It’s too cold in the winter and muggy in the summer. I have friends there, but I’m really only deliriously happy when I’m working in New York. I have 40 years of the city and commuting from the country, so I’ve proved that I can be a New Yorker, but I’m only really a visitor now, or in town when I’m working.

 

Lucie on Stage at 54 Below with Ron Abel at piano (Photo: Stephen Sorokoff)

 

And a CD is now available of “I Got The Job!”?

Yes, we made a CD of this show. It’s actually called Lucie Arnaz: Live! At The Purple Room. It was our first show I did after the pandemic so it had a real interesting excitement and energy to it. And it turned out to be a two disc because we kibitz and fooled around so much that night, that I didn’t want to cut any of the stories and weird crazy stuff that happened. So i just put it all in, so it’s a two CD disc. You can get them online at Live! At The Purple Room.

 

Please tell us how you met your multi-talented musical director and pianist, Ron Abel?

It was beshert as they say in the Jewish tradition. I was asked to jump in and save a benefit performance for a dyslexic children’s school and they sent this tall, talented, incredibly brilliant musical director to my house to run the song. The next thing I knew I had an offer to do my first concert honoring Irving Berlin’s 100th birthday and I was working with Ron on this other show and loved what he was doing and thought he was a great person to work with and hang with and he’s funny as all get out. So that’s how we met and that was 30 years ago. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.

 

Please tell us more about Craftours travel vacations. I know that with them, you visited Kenya, last year. Can you tell us a bit about that trip?

They go to so many places in the world. They contacted me and said I could pick any tour I wanted. I would do a show, and a Q & A and they would send my musical director along with me and I picked Kenya. I had never been on a safari. I love animals, I love elephants, and we visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: Haven for Elephants & Rhinos. It was amazing. It was priceless. I took a thousand and five pictures. The best gig I’ve ever had!

 

And June of 2024 you’ll be in Ireland with Craftours?

So, I’ve been invited back to do a show and a Q & A. This time they’ve booked my husband also, to do an event, a talk about his life and his new autobiography, and he picked Ireland, it was his choice. Neither of us had ever been there. He has some roots there and he’s interested in the Irish Theatre and the poets and writers from Ireland. I don’t think they’re sold out yet. Check out Craftours.

 

Speaking of your husband, you’ve been married to the super talented playwright, actor, and director, Laurence Luckinbill for 43 years! That is astonishing. Any advice for long lasting marriages?

Advice? Don’t give up. You can always fix it. Some people just aren’t willing to dig, and heal, and change. You have to be willing to change. And see the other person and take responsibility and say I’m sorry even when you didn’t do anything. That’s what my husband has taught me. And it’s saved our marriage. We’ve gotten through some rocky roads along the way. It wasn’t perfect for 43 years, what is? But it’s pretty damn perfect now. We have five beautiful children; I birthed three and Larry had 2 from a previous marriage. I say I birthed three and I cooked and cleaned for five. All the kids are spectacular.

 

I loved you in “They’re Playing Our Song” on Broadway, but I really regret not seeing you as Annie Oakley in Annie Get your Gun out at Jones Beach?

Thank you for what you said about “They’re Playing Our Song” and I’m sorry you didn’t’ get to see “Annie Get Your Gun,” too. It was quite a spectacle. Outdoors on the water all summer long. A 30-piece orchestra, singing that gorgeous Berlin score, in Ethel Merman’s keys! An audience of 8,000. It wasn’t an easy task, but I loved every moment of it. Sets would float in on pontoon boats and the costumes were extraordinary. It’s what started me in my Broadway career because it was while doing that show that I was sent the script to Their Playing Our Song, and then I got that job.

 

I also loved you as Maria Callas in Masterclass at New Hampshire’s Seacoast Repertory Theatre.

I was terrified to do it, because it’s one giant monologue that basically doesn’t stop. I prepared like a maniac for months before the production. I’m very proud of that work. My good friend Don Amendolia directed it and helped me craft this piece and make it my own.

 

You’re a Grandma now? How does that feel?

How does it feel? Are you kidding? I’ve waited my whole life hoping to have a big huge family, lots of kids and grandkids. And all the garbage about what are you going to have them call you? Nani, Gigi, Nana Poo Poo, Pee Pee. Call me grandma! Why wouldn’t you want to be called Grandma? I waited a long time to be a grandma. One grandchild calls me nan and the others call me Grandma. And we’re having the best time of our lives with them.

 

Lucie, what exciting things do you have coming up in the near future that we can share with our readers?

On my website Lucie Arnaz we have a calendar and everybody can see where I’ll be.

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