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The strange saga of Scary Lucy

May 2019

In the Village of Celoron, outside Jamestown, New York, the birthplace of iconic comedienne Lucile Ball, there is a small park along the shore of Lake Chautauqua dedicated to her memory.  In 2009, a bronze statue of Ball was installed near the entrance to Lucile Ball Memorial Park, one that would elevate the park and the statue to an unintended infamy. 

Sculpted by artist David Poulin, the sculpture looked nothing like the famous comedienne.  Disparagingly called “Scary Lucy” by critics, it was mocked for looking like a “Walking Dead” zombie, country singer Conway Twitty, the snake from Beetlejuice, actor Steve Buscemi, and an insult to Ball.  Even Poulin eventually admitted “Scary Lucy is “…by far my most unsettling sculpture.”

Poulin’s creation was inspired by the 1952 classic episode “Lucy Does a TV Commercial,” and depicts Ball holding a bottle of a fictitious health supplement called “Vitameatavegamin” in one hand and a spoon in the other.  What resulted was a disturbing, unrecognizable hulk with a deranged grimace on her face, demonic eyes, horse teeth and slicked back hair instead of her trademark curly up-do hairstyle.

Although “Scary Lucy” became an unlikely, internationally attended tourist attraction, the town council bowed to public pressure and elected to commission another artist to sculpt a replacement statue.

The “New Lucy” statue, sculpted by Carolyn Palmer, was officially unveiled at the park on 6 August 2016, on what would have been Lucile Ball’s 105th birthday.  The new statue is in the prominent place by the entrance to the park formerly occupied by her deranged “twin.”

Those still wishing to see “Scary Lucy” can still find her in the south-west corner of the park near the washrooms, a lower profile spot for this unlikely tourist attraction.

Sources:  https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/09/17/the-disasterpiece, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lucille-ball-statue-sculptor-apologizes-786633, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-lucy-is-unveiled-nearby-scary-lucy-in-lucille-balls-hometown-180960058, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/10/arts/design/scary-lucy-statue-is-replaced-on-anniversary-of-comedians-105th-birthday.html, https://www.daytondailynews.com/entertainment/scary-lucy-lucille-ball-statue-replaced-actress-hometown/Elt9ZlHOwwaiV7YjFNnRiJ, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/07/in-lucille-balls-hometown-scary-lucy-haunts-her-memory/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c0c8b346abfe.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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