CAMBRIDGE, MASS., FEB. 16 -- An audience far too young to have been born when she was queen of television comedy made clear today that "Harvard loves Lucy" as Lucille Ball was honored as the Hasty Pudding Theatricals' Woman of the Year.
"I've waited 20 years to make this gig," the 76-year-old comedian said in accepting the traditional copper pudding pot award from the nation's oldest undergraduate drama group at Harvard University ceremonies.
"Back in the '60s they asked me, but I was working ... and I couldn't come and I regretted it," she said, adding with her trademark wide-mouthed frown, "Then they didn't ask me for a while."
Man-of-the-Year honors will be presented next Tuesday to comic Steve Martin when the club opens its 140th production, "Saint Misbehavin'."
Wearing a white fur coat and with male club members in drag sitting at either shoulder, Ball attracted adoring crowds as she was paraded around Harvard Square in a 1947 Lincoln Continental convertible before the presentation.
Entering the theater, she threw kisses and a hip wiggle to a standing-room-only throng of 400 fans clapping in unison to the familiar theme song of her long-running "I Love Lucy" television series.
"It is a privilege and an honor to have you here. We're very excited because we have a lot in common," Hasty Pudding President Adrian Blake said in presenting the award.
" 'I Love Lucy' has been running the same episodes over and over again for over 30 years," he said, "and here at the Pudding we've been doing the same show for 140 years."
"Well, this doesn't look too bad," Ball said, accepting a bowl of gruel-like pudding. "You know, 'vita-meata-vegamin' was real bad," she said, a reference to a celebrated "Lucy" episode that the crowd recalled with laughter.
She took a big mouthful and launched to her familiar double-take array of rubber-faced contortions as the audience roared with laughter.
"Gawd, that's awful! You mean people really eat this?" she blurted.
After admitting at a news conference that she didn't "give a damn" about the controversial process of adding computerized color to black-and-white films, she expressed mock surprise when told some of her old TV shows would be colorized this year.
"Really? What color was my hair?"