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Lucy posthumously nears the century mark

It's a tough celebrity birthday choice today between Lucille Ball, who would have been 97, and Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame, who is 32 on Wed., Aug. 6th.

Oh, but we kid. The First Lady of television remains a vital force in many lives, whether it's I Love Lucy repeats or all those ever-treasured collectibles out there.

She died on April 26, 1989, just three years after trying to make an ill-advised comeback in the short-lived Life with Lucy, produced by hitmaker Aaron Spelling.

Yipes, I was at the ABC press conference for that one, and also shared a dinner table with Ball and husband Gary Morton during a session for the CBS movie Stone Pillow, in which she played a snarly but kindly bag lady named Florabelle. She was pretty frail at that point, but being in the company of TV royalty remains an indelible memory.

Here's a clip from a CBS promo for I Love Lucy that highlights her impending delivery of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's first child. It's still a case study in deft physical comedy, with Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley all in full-bumble.