Honestly, Ethel, with a New Do, Even You Could Have a Shot at Becoming the Next Lucille Ball

updated 08/06/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/06/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Clearly, it was a role to dye for. Beginning at 3:15 A.M. on a Friday, more than 200 Lucille Ball wannabes—many with hair the color of orangeade—started lining up outside a Manhattan television studio to audition for a role as the carrot-topped comedienne in an upcoming CBS movie. Lack of any physical resemblance seemed to discourage no one: There were six-foot-tall Lucys, Oklahoma-twanged Lucys, a black Lucy and even a 75-year-old grandma Lucy, one Marilyn Field, who hopped a predawn bus from Queens for the tryout. "My girlfriends insisted I come down," she said. "I'm very, very good at comedy. Once I even played Yente in Fiddler on the Roof."

Peppered among the hopefuls were a number of ersatz Desi Amazes, yelling "Looocy" and beating small drums. "It helps if you play the conga," said John Hadity, 29, who neglected to bring his along. The other secret to capturing the essential, early Desi, he added, is to "put about five pounds of Tenax in your hair."

By the end of the day, casting executives, who had already seen 400 Lucy and Desi candidates in L.A. and Miami, were pooped. Quick—somebody get them a bottle of Vitameatavegamin.

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