Saturday, January 26, 2019

Lucille Ball And The Untouchables

Lucille Ball was around some underworld characters in the 1930's when she was a young woman.

Lucille Ball in 1930.

She dated Pat DeCicco while she was working as a model in New York in that period. Pat DeCicco was someone who was associated with Thelma Todd as well as the underworld.

Thelma Todd with Pat DeCicco.

Lucille Ball was also associated with George Raft, who she knew in Hollywood.

Lucille Ball, George Raft, Virginia Pine (and her daughter Joanie) and Mack Gray (April 25, 1935).
Mack Gray was one of Raft's friends who also had underworld connections.

Lucille Ball had some success in the movies, but later found greater fame on television in I LOVE LUCY, which costarred her real-life husband Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley.

Beginning in 1955 Lucille Ball's clothes on the show were designed by Edward Stevenson, who used to make clothes for Thelma Todd in the thirties. Stevenson had designed clothing for Lucille Ball in the movies and would continue working for her for the rest of his life.

Although the program consisted mainly of more or less innocuous comedy, one episode did pit Lucille Ball against an Italian peasant woman in a conflict which in retrospect could be said to foreshadow her involvement in a television program involving Italian gangsters.

THE UNTOUCHABLES was another story, but it was produced by Desilu, as the production company headed by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball was called. THE UNTOUCHABLES  began in 1959 as a two-part episode on CBS's WESTINGHOUSE DESILU PLAYHOUSE.

Photo of the cast for The Untouchables as seen on Desilu Playhouse: Only Robert Stack (third from left) and Abel Fernandez (second from right) were used in the actual television series. Keenan Wynn is seen here at the right of Robert Stack, Peter Leeds (who played LaMarr Kane, replaced in the series by Chuck Hicks) is to the right of Wynn, and TV's Kit CarsonBill Williams as Marty Flaherty (replaced by Jerry Paris in the series), is on the far right. Actor Paul Dubov, who played Jack Rossman (replaced in the series by Steve London), is missing from this photo.

The two parts were later combined to make a feature film which was released to theaters.

Barbara Nichols as "Brandy LaFrance", a fictional thirties blonde. 

Barbara Nichols with Neville Brande, who played Al Capone.

Barbara Nichols reprised her role on the first episode of the regular series, "The Empty Chair". The title referred to the absence of Al Capone from his position as the head of the Chicago mob. The other gangsters continued their operations without him and Elliot Ness continued to oppose them. Ness attempted to turn the gangsters against each other and then sought the assistance of Brandy LaFrance, the niece of Jake Guzik, who had been Capone's accountant

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This is a 25 caliber Colt pocket pistol. In the program Elliot Ness gives one to Brandy to protect herself with.

This is the same type of gun that Rudy Schafer said that Thelma Todd had given his father to carry at the Sidewalk Cafe. 

When the gangsters are going to kill her, she uses it to defend herself with.

Hearing the shot, the Untouchables rush in and apprehend the gangsters, concluding the episode.

Joan Blondell appeared on an episode of THE UNTOUCHABLES called "The Underground Court". Joan Blondell was thought of as being the same type as Thelma Todd in the 1930's and she appeared in THE PUBLIC ENEMY, which was one of the most famous gangster movies of all time. Her sister Gloria Blondell was at one time married to Cubby Broccoli, who was Pat DeCicco's cousin. 

                              Robert Stack and Joan Blondell on THE UNTOUCHABLES.

Stock footage of the Morro Castle burning was used on this episode, which involved a gangster who swam ashore from the stricken ship with records of underworld transactions. Once ashore he let it be known that the information would be turned over to the authorities in the event of his death, which he regarded as protection from his former comrades.

This being a show where crime didn't pay, he paid for his crimes by the end of the episode, in spite of this protection from the mob.

Lucille Ball did not herself appear on THE UNTOUCHABLES, but she appeared in a parody on THE LUCY SHOW called "Lucy The Gun Moll" on March 4, 1966. Robert Stack and Bruce Gordon played the same characters that they had on THE UNTOUCHABLES, although their characters were called "Agent Briggs" and "Big Nick" instead of "Elliot Ness" and "Frank Nitti".

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This program ends with Lucy making peace, so that everyone can live happily ever after. A somewhat more pleasant end for the underworld character than they generally had received on THE UNTOUCHABLES.

Lucille Ball:

Lucille Ball Autobiography Mention Of Dating Pat DeCicco:

Lucy The Gun Moll:


Mack Gray:

Hollywood And The Underworld:

George Raft:

Edward Stevenson:



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