Guess Their Story: Lucille

  • April 15, 2019

We know that every one of our Five Star residents has an incredible story to tell. To prove it, we’re starting a new series here on the Five Star blog: Guess Their Story.

We’ll give you the chance to guess what one unexpected fact about them is true based on their photo and your blind intuition. We think you just might be surprised at what the correct answer is! Ready?

First up — this lovely resident of Five Star’s Tuscany Villa in Naples, Florida: Lucille.

Which unexpected profession did Lucille hold?

  1. A famed skydiver
  2. An internationally-touring vaudeville performer
  3. An Olympic runner


Ready to guess? Scroll down to see the answer!

Did you guess B? If so, you're correct! The sparkle in her eyes gave it away, didn’t it?

Meet Lucille Rich.

To see Lucille these days at her home at Tuscany Villa in Naples, you would notice right away that she loves to have fun. She spends her days attending a wide variety of activities, including movies, art classes, and other entertainment acts that fill up the Five Star community’s calendar.

But here’s what you wouldn’t know unless you read her published autobiography, “No Hells or Damns Allowed;” she had a 40-plus-year career in vaudeville that included opening for Bob Hope.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Lucille was the 14-year-old daughter of a nightclub owner when she met Henry Rich, a 17-year-old travelling tap dancer. Henry taught Lucille to sing and dance, and the rest was history. Lucille’s mother travelled with them, and Lucille said she gave her lots of advice. “She was my biggest fan and supporter throughout my life, and I respected and trusted her.”

They toured all over the country, from the Palace Theatre in New York City to Detroit, Dallas, and around the world, including performances in Germany, Japan, Cuba, Korea, France, and 20 countries across Africa. They also appeared on television on “The Lawrence Welk Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Lucille and Henry’s act, “Rich & Gibson” — and then once their son, Jim, joined at age seven the “Rich Family” or “Rich, Gibson and Rich” — was a huge hit. In addition to Bob Hope, they performed with Dean Martin, Red Skelton, Sonny and Cher, Eartha Kitt, and many others. The fact that she’s met so many celebrities is just one of many things that surprises people who meet Lucille these days.

Art is still a big part of Lucille’s life. At Tuscany Villa, she still paints regularly — a practice she picked up on the road as a touring performer. The community arts and crafts studio is a frequent haunt of hers as is the card and game room. And she still loves to see a great show.

“I love the variety of entertainment,” she says of the Tuscany Villa routine. “It brings back such great memories for me.”

They have so much entertainment here, and they are all really good! I should know! — Lucille

Lucille also stays very active; she says the morning exercise class is one of her favorite parts of the day. She loves telling her stories to the fellow residents who see the vaudeville photos in her room. “I guess people who have never been in the entertainment industry find it very interesting. For me, it was just a way of life.”

In 2010, Lucille and Henry celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Lucille says she can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. “I met my husband when I was 14. This is all I did, and I loved it from the beginning.”

When Lucille and Henry (and their cat, Silver) moved to Tuscany Villa, they weren’t the first in their family to do so. They’d already seen how much Jim’s aunt loved the community. And they grew to love it, too.

“I love living at Tuscany — the staff and the residents have become extended family to me. At 97 years old, I am still active and enjoying life.”

Lucille’s story is unique, but she’s not the only resident with an exciting background.

Stay tuned for our next Guess Their Story profile. Five Star communities are filled with vibrant, active seniors with unexpected stories to tell. We look forward to sharing more of them with you.

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