Lucy an Esquire Girl? Believe It!
In one of my favorite Lucille Ball movies, the 1943 MGM Technicolor extravaganza DuBarry Was a Lady Red Skelton play a hat-check boy in love with glamorous nightclub star May Daly (Lucy), who doesn't stand a chance with her until he wins a lottery. At one point in the movie, Red fantasizes about what it would be like to have an Esquire pinup for real in a song called "I Love an Esquire Girl." (It featured a cameo by another MGM star, Lana Turner).
Ironically enough, Lucy herself kinda/sorta became an Esquire Girl: Her pinup wasn't that risqué, but illustrator Howard Baer, known for his Esquire work, did a version of Lucy from DuBarry that I never knew existed until my pal, artist Dave Woodman, sent me a digital copy. Baer's drawing is at left, and a still from the movie's opening number — of Lucy as May Daly in the costume Baer used as inspiration (though he changed the dress color to a saucy red, perhaps in a tribute to Lucy's flaming hair) — is above right. Enjoy this rare find!
A little more on DuBarry Was a Lady: it also starred the fabulous, wry Virginia O'Brien as Lucy's pal who pines for Red, and bandleader Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra; watch for Dorsey and band playing in full French Revolution drag during one of Red's dream sequences! (He dreams he's Louis XV and wants Madame DuBarry as his consort). As I've said before, this film was one of MGM's splashy attempts to throw in everything but the kitchen sink and make moviegoers forget what was going on in the real world for a few hours (WWII). It was also, according to legend, the movie in which MGM hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff gave Lucy her trademark flaming red/orange/apricot hair, which became Ball's signature look forever after.