Universal declined to borrow the cast but will exhibit other rarities from Stern's collection, including "The Lucy Show" board game.
Inevitably, the attraction focuses on Lucy, whose popularity has skyrocketed since her death. But the late Desi Arnaz is also a presence, despite the fact that he and Lucy fought even as they were achieving TV immortality and divorced in 1960. Desi beams through the home movies, which Olsen describes as "just like anybody else's home movies except you recognize the faces." Among the Desi memorabilia: Hand-scored original music that Lucie Arnaz found in his guitar case after his death in 1986.
Arnaz does not hide her anger about the portrayal of her father as a boozing philanderer in the recent CBS TV movie, "Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter." She and actor husband Laurence Luckinbill are completing a musical about Desi that she hopes will give a truer, more balanced picture of her father.
Bowman says she is glad the Universal exhibit documents Desi's business acumen and other positive aspects of his career. "He was a genius," Bowman says. "JFK cheated, too," she adds.
Arnaz has nothing but praise for Olsen and his staff. She was consulted at every turn, she says, even as to the nature of Lucy souvenirs. "I said, 'No toilet paper, please," she recalls, with a laugh.
"Believe it or not, we still have a ton (of Lucy and Desi items) left," Arnaz says. There is enough, in fact, to fill yet another Lucy museum, to be opened next year in Jamestown, N.Y., near the tiny town of Celeron, where the legend was born.