Recycled Stars: Female Film Stardom in the Age of Television and Video
After the Laughter: Recycling Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as a Star Couple
This chapter analyzes the postmortem coverage of Lucille Ball that conjoins her with ex-husband and costar Desi Arnaz as a star couple who were central to the development of the situation comedy as a television genre and the meaning of family in postwar America. This recycling was first used in promotions for I Love Lucy and has become more characteristic of Ball’s recycling in the years since her death, as television institutions and texts, as well as its critics and commentators, have become more self-conscious about the medium’s history and its place in American cultural and family life. This chapter argues that television’s operating logics about its own history and relation to viewing families, the Arnaz children’s control over their parents’ images, and the currency of anxieties about family in contemporary American culture overdetermine the recycling of Ball and Arnaz as star couple and as the premiere television family.