Author Chris Olsen is a Jamestown native whose mother was part of the welcoming committee supporting Lucille Ball's visit to her hometown seven decades ago, returning as an international superstar. His insider's account―in words and pictures―documents a visit in February, 1956, that was monumental in the lives of Lucy, Desi, and the residents of the small upstate New York town of Jamestown. Organized around the premiere of their MGM movie, “Forever Darling,” Lucy and Desi attended a host of media events in this whirlwind homecoming tour, and OIsen has carefully collected and curated the photographs and narrative surrounding the momentous occasion.
This sensational visit of the hometown girl offers a previously unpublished view of an intimate yet very public episode of Lucy's life. Featuring more than 100 archival photographs, including Lucy greeting hordes of fans in the old football field behind Jamestown High School; waving to a crowd of onlookers during the “Welcome Home” kickoff that brought out the entire population; a visit to Lucy's former home in Celoron; appearances at the Crystal Ballroom in the Hotel Jamestown; and the warm and enthusiastic reception the stars received from the small town that Lucy once called home.
Olsen's connection to all things Lucy has its origins with his mother, the former Janice Swanson, who unbeknownst to him until he discovered a photograph, was Lucy's “Homecoming Queen” during the visit. The author calls the book a love letter to both his mom and to Lucy. During his research, Olsen also discovered that Lucy considered her return to Jamestown “one of the best days of her life.”
About the Author:
Chris Olsen's work was inspired after seeing a photograph of Desi Arnaz kissing Homecoming Queen, Janice Swanson, who happens to be his mother. In addition to being a practicing attorney, Olsen is a film producer and a Jamestown history buff who lives with his wife, Tricia, and their four children in Los Angeles, CA.