“Actors and actresses all strive for affection. We get up on a stage because we want to be loved. The stage fulfills this need better than anything else; especially if you’ve found a rapport with an audience and can wrap them up in your arms and hug them close. The irony is that in our terrible need to be loved, we pick an arena where we can also be rejected by the greatest possible number of people. Nothing’s quite so wonderful as those waves of love and applause splashing over the footlights- and nothing quite as shattering as when an audience doesn’t like you.”
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.