New Lucille Ball Sculpture Replaces 'Scary Lucy' Statue in Celoron, New York

Lucille Ball was often described as funny and approachable—but a grimacing, life-size bronze statue of the comedian, erected in her hometown of Celoron, New York, in 2009, looked so unlike the beloved I Love Lucy sitcom star that it earned the nickname “Scary Lucy.” Now, after years of public backlash, CNN reports that a new sculpture modeled in Ball’s likeness was finally unveiled last weekend, on Saturday, August 6.

Celoron Mayor Scott Schrecengost presided over the ceremony, which was fittingly held in the town’s Lucille Ball Memorial Park on the 105th anniversary of Ball’s birthday. Sculptor Carolyn Palmer, who beat out more than 65 sculptors in a national competition to create the upgraded Lucy, accompanied him.

Palmer’s bronze Lucy sculpture weighs 750 pounds. It depicts the curly-haired actress mid-stride, clutching her polka-dotted dress skirt with one hand while holding a purse with the other. The entire project took Palmer around nine months to complete.

"I not only wanted to portray the playful, animated and spontaneous Lucy, but also the glamorous icon,” Palmer, who gained inspiration by watching and re-watching episodes of I Love Lucy, said in a statement quoted by NPR. "I just hope that all the Lucy fans are pleased and that Lucille Ball herself would have enjoyed this image of her."

Palmer’s statue replaces “Scary Lucy,” a work by artist Dave Poulin that portrayed Ball clutching a bottle of the make-believe health tonic Vitameatavegamin that was featured in the 1952 I Love Lucy episode "Lucy Does a TV Commercial." The statue quickly became infamous, and in 2012, fans of Ball even launched an online campaign called "We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue."

Poulin—who received death threats over the work—ended up issuing a public apology in a letter to media outlets including The Hollywood Reporter. "I take full responsibility for 'Scary Lucy,' though by no means was that my intent or did I wish to disparage in any way the memories of the iconic Lucy image," Poulin wrote in the letter. "From the day of its installation, I have shared my disappointment in the final outcome and have always believed it to be by far my most unsettling sculpture, not befitting of Lucy's beauty or my ability as a sculptor."

Poulin volunteered to re-make the sculpture—initially for a hefty price, and later for free. His offer was turned down, and in 2015, Yahoo reports, Mayor Schrecengost formed a committee of Celoron residents to choose a new artist. Palmer—whose past works have included Pope Francis, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Orville and Wilbur Wright, and Thomas Jefferson—was “the best sculptor we could have ended up with,” Schrecengost said in a statement quoted by The Guardian.

The brand-new National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York offered to adopt the old Scary Lucy statue. But since it’s become such a popular tourist attraction, Schrecengost told CNN affiliate WIVB that the frightening statue will remain in Lucille Ball Memorial Park. There, it will stand alongside Palmer’s new work.

"Even though the other statue is called 'Scary Lucy' or 'Ugly Lucy,' whatever the people want to call it, it's still artwork and not all artwork is beautiful,” Schrecengost told WIVB.

[h/t CNN]

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5-Year-Old Boy Hugs, Then Destroys, a $132,000 Sculpture When His Parents Aren't Looking
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A 5-year-old boy's playful mistake may end up costing his parents a small fortune. As ABC News reports, the boy knocked over and destroyed a valuable piece of art on display in the lobby of the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas. Now, the city's insurance company is asking them to pay for it.

The parents were preparing to leave a wedding reception as their son was filmed running around the building's lobby. At one point in the security footage, he can be seen stopping to embrace a sculpture, titled Aphrodite di Kansas City, which causes it to fall towards him and onto the ground.

According to Overland Park's insurance company, the piece was damaged irreparably by the fall. It had been listed at a price of $132,000, and a few days after the incident, the parents received a claim asking them to cover the entire cost.

“You’re responsible for the supervision of a minor child […] your failure to monitor could be considered negligent,” the letter read.

The couple disputed the accusation, instead blaming the community center for not better securing the sculpture. As for the chances of the Aphrodite di Kansas City being repaired or rebuilt, local artist Bill Lyons said it isn't likely. He spent two years creating the original piece, and after declaring it permanently destroyed, he told ABC News he doesn't have the drive or capacity to make a new one.

It isn't just rambunctious 5-year-olds who have been known to ruin expensive art. Grown-up museum visitors, whether they're tripping over untied shoelaces or getting in position for the perfect selfie, can be just as destructive.

[h/t ABC News]

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8 Things You Might Not Know About The Wizard of Id
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Titan Books

Debuting in 1964, Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s The Wizard of Id took a page from the macabre humor of cartoonist Charles Addams. Ruling the kingdom of Id, a pint-sized tyrant uses humor to disarm a medieval cast made up of a jester, an executioner, a thief, and the titular magician, whose spells don’t usually impress. Although Hart and Parker both passed away in 2007, their black humor lives on. Take a look at some facts behind the throne, including the time Jim Henson almost brought it to television.

1. THE IDEA FOR THE STRIP CAME FROM A DECK OF PLAYING CARDS.

Johnny Hart was already a successful syndicated cartoonist (the Stone Age comedy B.C.) before he and former Disney animator Brant Parker decided to collaborate on a different project. Hart was flipping through a deck of playing cards in 1964 when he came across a peculiar illustration used for the king. Drawing on it to create his own diminutive despot, Hart wrote most of the jokes for Id while Parker illustrated it.

2. THE SYNDICATE THOUGHT THE TWO ARTISTS WERE DISGUSTING.

Although Id would eventually be syndicated to over 1000 strips across the country, Hart and Parker first had to get past the gatekeepers of cartoon distribution operating out of New York. Traveling to the city to show them samples, the two worked late into the night and called to tell executives they were ready. They didn’t know the syndicate would be coming to their hotel room, which was a mess of papers, food, and beer bottles. Caught off-guard, the men looked like transients. “We think you guys are disgusting,” one executive said, “but we love the strip. We’ll take it.”

3. THE SHORT JOKES WERE BASED ON JOHNNY HART.

In a visual juxtaposition, the king of Id’s height is inversely proportional to his power. Parker said the character’s stature was based partly on Hart, who used to fend off jokes about his own height. "The king became short because we used to kid John about being short and a lot of the short gags began to slide over into the strip," Parker said. "He just kept getting smaller, and as he shrunk, the nose got bigger and bigger."

4. A LITTLE GIRL GOT THEM TO DROP A CHARACTER.

Most of the humor in Id is centered around the morbid dynamics of Middle Ages politics, which is not normally an opportunity to offend current sensibilities. But early on, Parker and Hart created a karate teacher from Japan who was perceived by some as a stereotype. When Parker received a letter from a young Japanese-American girl who was being teased at school as a result of the character, the creators decided to drop him from the strip.

5. JIM HENSON WAS GOING TO PUT IT ON TELEVISION.

An avowed fan of comic strips and of The Wizard of Id in particular, Muppets creator Jim Henson met with Hart in 1968 to discuss a possible collaboration. Henson wanted to create an Id television show that would use puppets against an animated backdrop. Hart agreed, and in 1969, Henson was able to shoot test footage featuring himself as the voice of the Wizard. But executives at Publishers-Hall, which had taken over syndication of the strip, were having trouble enticing networks into producing a series. By the time ABC showed interest, Henson had moved on to Sesame Street and other projects. Wizard of Id got translated into animation in 1970 as part of a Chuck Jones variety series titled Curiosity Shop.

6. HART TURNED DOWN FEATURE FILM OFFERS.

Possibly disappointed in the outcome of the Henson project, Hart wasn’t very receptive to offers to adapt Id into other mediums. He reportedly shunned Steven Spielberg and Norman Lear when they called about adaptations. Producer Andrew Gaty managed to interest Hart in 1987, though his plans for a live-action feature—possibly starring Danny DeVito as the king—never came to fruition.

7. IT WAS A (STRANGE) VIDEO GAME.

In 1984, users of the ColecoVision home computer system were able to pick up a software program with an unwieldy title: The Wizard of Id’s Wiz Math. The edutainment program allowed players to brush up on math skills by solving problems faced by Spookingdorf, the tortured and jailed cast member of the strip. By solving math problems, players could navigate Spookingdorf out of his dungeon. The game was produced by Sierra, which later became known for its King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry franchises. A typing game, WizType, was also released.

8. BLONDIE AND BEETLE BAILEY CELEBRATED THE STRIP'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY.

When The Wizard of Id passed the half-century milestone in 2014, the entire comics page came out to celebrate. Hi and Lois featured a portrait of the Wizard in a panel, while Blondie and Family Circus made subtle references to the anniversary. (As modern-day strips, it would be difficult to regard a medieval strip with more overt acknowledgment.) In Beetle Bailey, the perennial screw-up shared a cell with the eternally suffering Spookingdorf.

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