In 2009, a bronze statue of Lucille Ball was unveiled in her hometown of Celoron, New York. Locals and fans, however, were far from impressed with the likeness of the much-loved actress and comedian. And it’s not hard to see why.
Some compared it to a zombie from The Walking Dead. Others said it looked more like Steve Buscemi, which seems a little a harsh on poor old Steve. The creepy statue soon became known as “Scary Lucy,” a name that has stuck to the present day.
It wasn’t until 2015 that the statue began to receive a whole new wave of attention, when a Facebook campaign to get rid of it went viral. For a short while “Scary Lucy” became an internet sensation, which was understandably a kick-in-the-teeth for the statue’s creator, the sculptor David Poulin.
Poulin admitted that the statue was far from his best work and offered to fix or remake it. In the end, however, the town decide that an entirely new statue was needed to replace “Scary Lucy.” They launched a national competition to find a sculptor for the new Lucille Ball, which was won by Carolyn Palmer.
The new statue was unveiled on August 6, 2016, on what would have been Ball’s 105th birthday. Much to the relief of all involved, the gathered crowd applauded as Palmer and Celoron Mayor Schrecengost unveiled the bronze statue of a smiling, elegant and instantly recognizable Lucille Ball in a polka-dot dress, pearls, handbag and high-heels. Locals soon dubbed it “Lovely Lucy.”
But this wasn’t the end for “Scary Lucy.” Thanks to all the social media attention, the old statue was not scrapped. Many tourists still wanted to see it, so it was placed about 75 yards from its original location, where it still stands today.
As for David Poulin, he later quit sculpting in bronze and generously gave away $15,000 worth of his foundry equipment to the Buffalo Maritime Center. He denied that the “Scary Lucy” backlash was his reason for quitting, despite apparently receiving plenty of personal insults and some death threats during the whole ordeal.
In January 2019 he told the Buffalo News that he was simply tired of the whole Lucy thing: “I created 120 public works. I’ve been doing this for 27 years. People like my work. I do one piece, admittedly it was not one of my best works, and it just keeps coming up and coming up and coming up.”
It’s easy to understand his frustration, especially coming from a man who has done some powerful public works including the Underground Railroad Tableau and Veteran’s Center sculptures in Jamestown.