He wanted to be here tonight. I’d like to read something that he wrote:
‘I Love Lucy’ had just one mission: to make people laugh. Lucy gave it a rare quality. She can perform the wildest, even the messiest physical comedy without losing her feminine appeal. The ‘New York Times’ asked me to divide the credit for its success between the writers, directors and the cast. I told them, ‘Give Lucy 90% of the credit. Divide the other 10% among the rest of us.’ Desi concluded: Lucy was the show. Viv, Fred, and I were just props. Damn good props. But props nevertheless. PS- ‘I Love Lucy’ was never just a title.
-Desi Arnaz’s tribute to his ex-wife Lucille Ball, read by Robert Stack at the Kennedy Center Honors on December 7, 1986, five days after Desi had passed away from lung cancer.
[1/10] Assassinations - Strage di Capaci (Capaci’s Massacre), 23 May 1992.
On the 23rd of May 1992, on the Capaci’s junction of the highway A29, a few kilometers away from Palermo, a huge explosion killed the Italian Magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo, and three of their body guards, Vito Schifani, Rocco Dicillo and Antonio Montinaro.
The attack was planned by the criminal organization Cosa Nostra, lead by the boss Totò Riina, who threw a party right after Falcone’s death.
Giovanni Falcone spent most of his life fighting the power of the Sicilian mafia. Thanks to his work, the first big trial against the mafia, known as the Maxiprocesso, could take place, between February 1986 and December 1987. The Maxiprocesso convicted 360 defendants, for a total of 2665 years of prison and 19 life sentences for the bosses.
Giovanni Falcone, along with his dear friend Paolo Borsellino, who was assassinated 57 days after Falcone, is considered a national hero and a symbol of the fight against the mafia.
“La mafia non è affatto invincibile. È un fatto umano e come tutti i fatti umani ha un inizio, e avrà anche una fine.”/”The mafia isn’t invincible. It’s a human phenomenon and thus, like all human phenomena it has a beginning, and it will also have an end.”
On this day in music history: April 26, 1961 - “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King is released. Written by Benjamin Earl Nelson, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, it is the sixth solo single for the R&B and pop vocal legend. In spite of recording several classics as the lead singer of The Drifters including the classics “There Goes My Baby”, “This Magic Moment” and “Save The Last Dance For Me”, a contractual dispute with manager George Treadwell drives Ben E. King out of the group in mid 1960. Continuing to work with the songwriting and production team of Leiber and Stoller, King begins recording on his own. After his initial solo releases “Brace Yourself” and “A Help-Each-Other Romance” (duet with LaVern Baker) fail to make an impression on the charts. On October 27, 1960, King is recording at Atlantic Studios in New York City, working on the song “Spanish Harlem” (#10 Pop, #15 R&B) which becomes his first major solo hit. With time still left in the session, Leiber and Stoller ask King if he has any more songs. The singer plays them an unfinished song he had originally intended to record with The Drifters. Inspired by the song “Stand By Me Father”, written by Sam Cooke during his days as lead singer of The Soul Stirrers, Leiber and Stoller re-work the initial melody and Ben and Jerry write the lyrics. Calling the musicians back, the song now titled “Stand By Me” is quickly recorded. Before the session concludes, all involved know that they have created something special. Released in the Spring of 1961, “Stand By Me” makes its impact felt immediately. An instant classic, it quickly rises up the R&B and pop singles charts, spending four weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart beginning on May 29, 1961, and peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on June 12, 1961. Following its release, “Stand By Me” is covered numerous times over the years, including versions by John Lennon, Spyder Turner, Mickey Gilley and Maurice White. Ben E. King’s original recording has a long life after its initial run on the charts. In 1986, director Rob Reiner uses the song as the theme to his film “Stand By Me”, based on the Stephen King short story “The Body”. Featured prominently on the oldies dominated soundtrack, Atlantic Records reissues the song as a single. Driven by the popularity of the film, “Stand By Me” re-enters the Billboard Hot 100, and returns to the top ten, peaking at #9 in December of 1986, over twenty five years after it had originally charted. The song becomes a smash in the UK a second time, thanks to its inclusion in the film, and being featured in a popular commercial for Levi’s jeans, sending the single to #1. In 1998, “Stand By Me” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame, in 2012 receives the Towering Song Award by the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, and in 2015, King’s original recording is selected for inclusion into the National Recording Registry by The Library Of Congress, just five weeks before the singer’s passing.
“On the set of the film The Mirror, Andrey Tarkovsky included himself in one scene, lying in a hospital bed and holding a tiny bird on his right hand. And this is what happened to him at the end of his life: in his sickroom in Paris, the room where he died, a little bird would fly every morning through the open window and come to light on him.”
Happy Birthday Andrey Tarkovsky: April 4, 1932 - December 29, 1986
(Images from the book ‘Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids’)
Happy 76th Wedding Anniversary, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz // November 30, 1940
Lucy and Desi spoke once more in the final days before his death on December 2, 1986. As Lucie remembers, “I got on the phone with my mother and said, ‘He’s barely speaking. He didn’t eat any of the dinner we fixed. He hasn’t eaten in three days. I don’t even know if he’ll understand what you’re saying, but I’ll put the phone up to his ear.’ She said, ‘Oh, okay.’ She was always trying to be so brave. You could hear her voice cracking. I put the phone up to Dad’s ear in the bed. And he gave me a look that said, ‘Who is it?’ And I said, ‘It’s the redhead.’ He just listened, and I heard what she said. She just said the same thing over and and over again. It was muffled, but you could clearly make out it was the same thing over and over again.
“It was, ‘I love you. I love you. Desi, I love you.’ You could even hear the intonations of the voice change, how she meant each one, the interpretations. And I just sat there, trying not to show him I was listening, because I had to hold the phone. I couldn’t get out of the room. He couldn’t hold the phone. And he said, ‘I love you, too, honey.’ Really, my mother was the last person he talked to, because he died about forty-eight hours later.”
“Until I went back into my little diary,” concludes Lucie, “I never put it together that the date this happened was November 30 - the same date as their wedding anniversary.”