Lucie Arnaz is flipping over her latest role. Literally! As sassy grandma Berthe in the Tony-winning revival of Pippin, Lucie is wowing audiences with her awesome acrobatics.
“I have a trapeze solo in the show, which is pretty cool,” shares Lucie, 63. “It’s kind of amazing that I’m doing this stuff now, especially at my age!”
Of course, performing is in Lucie’s blood. The daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Lucie appeared in two of her mom’s TV series’ as a teen: The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy — the latter with her younger brother, Desi Arnaz Jr., now 61.
Countless guest-starring roles and a lengthy career in musical theater followed, but Lucie’s favorite job wasn’t on the screen or stage.
“Parenting is the greatest work I will ever do,” says Lucie, who has three children with her husband of 34 years, actor Laurence Luckinbill. “It’s really the part of my life I work the hardest on.”
You’ve had roles in TV, film and theater. Do you prefer one medium over another?
It depends on the part. That said, I really enjoy the give-and-take of a live audience. When the curtain goes up, you’re on your own.
You’ve worked with some amazing entertainers throughout your career. What have you learned from them?
I can honestly say that everyone has taught me something. But Elizabeth Taylor gave me the world’s greatest advice, which was “always clean your diamonds with toothpaste!”
It sounds like you love being married. What’s your relationship like?
We cherish the days and moments we do nothing. Just being home together, making breakfast, having a cup of coffee… I love doing the normal stuff. It never gets old.
Your kids are all grown. When they left home, did you experience empty-nest syndrome?
What’s so great for me is that even though my kids [Simon, Joseph and Katharine] are in their 30s, they never stop needing me. It’s the same with my stepkids [Nicholas and Benjamin], who are in their late 30s and 40s. I love the fact that they share everything with us, because I never had a chance to do that while I was growing up.
Do you wish your parents would have been more involved during your childhood?
No matter who you are, it’s hard to not have your parents raise you. Yes, having a good caretaker is great because they avoid you from getting intro trouble, but it’s not the same as having your mother and father there. Having famous parents had its perks, but there was certainly also a downside.
How involved was your own mother with your children?
There was one time when my mother took my son for a couple of days while Larry and I went somewhere. This was a huge, big deal because we had to get her ready to do that; she never really took care of kids before. I think she had three nannies and a driver to help her get through the week! She did the best she could.
Do you think your musical ability comes from your father, and your humor from your mother?
Truthfully, the humor is more from my father and my grandmother DeDe. My mother was not a funny lady. She was funny on television and could take a script and turn it into gold, but my mom was a very serious person and usually they worried about anything and everything. My dad had a sensational sense of humor. He taught me that it’s one of the most important things you can have in any situation.