Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American actress, comedian, model, entertainment studio executive and producer. She was the star of the self-produced sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, and Life with Lucy, as well as comedy television specials aired under the title The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.
Ball's career began in 1929 when she landed work as a model. Shortly thereafter, she began her performing career on Broadway using the stage names Diane Belmont and Dianne Belmont. She later appeared in several minor film roles in the 1930s and 1940s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures, being cast as a chorus girl or in similar roles. During this time, she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, and the two eloped in November 1940. In the 1950s, Ball ventured into television. In 1951, she and Arnaz created the sitcom I Love Lucy, a series that became one of the most beloved programs in television history. The same year, Ball gave birth to their first child, Lucie Arnaz, followed by Desi Arnaz Jr. in 1953. Ball and Arnaz divorced in May 1960, and she married comedian Gary Morton in 1961.
Following the end of I Love Lucy, Ball would go on to appear in a Broadway musical, Wildcat, for a year from 1960 to 1961, although the show received lukewarm reviews and had to be shut down permanently when Ball became ill for a brief time. After Wildcat, Ball reunited with I Love Lucy co-star Vivian Vance for the aforementioned Lucy Show, which Vance departed in 1965 but which was to continue for three years with longtime friend of Ball's Gale Gordon who already had a recurring role on the program.
In 1962, Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which produced many popular television series, including Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. Ball did not back away from acting completely. In 1985, Ball took on a dramatic role in a television film, Stone Pillow. The next year she starred in Life with Lucy, which was, unlike her other sitcoms, not well-received; the show was cancelled after three months. She appeared in film and television roles for the rest of her career until her death in April 1989 from an abdominal aortic dissection at the age of 77.
Ball was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning four times. In 1960, she received two stars for her work in film and television on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1977, Ball was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Award. She was also the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1984, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989.
Ball circa 1955
Lucille Désirée Ball
August 6, 1911
Jamestown, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 26, 1989 (aged 77)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Burial place||Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, New York|
|Occupation||Actress, comedian, model, film studio executive, TV producer|
Desi Arnaz Jr.
|Relatives||Fred Ball (brother)|
Born at 69 Stewart Avenue, Jamestown, New York, Lucille Désirée Ball was the daughter of Henry Durrell Ball (1887–1915) and Désirée "DeDe" Evelyn Ball (née Hunt; 1892–1977). Her family lived in Wyandotte, Michigan, for a time. She sometimes later claimed that she had been born in Butte, Montana, where her grandparents had lived. A number of magazines reported inaccurately that she had decided that Montana was a more romantic place to be born than New York and repeated a fantasy of a "western childhood". However her father had moved the family to Anaconda for his work, where they lived briefly, among other places.
Her family belonged to the Baptist church. Her ancestors were mostly English, but a few were Scottish, French, and Irish. Some were among the earliest settlers in the Thirteen Colonies, including Elder John Crandall of Westerly, Rhode Island, and Edmund Rice, an early emigrant from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
In February 1915, when Lucille was three years old, her 27-year-old father died of typhoid fever. Henry Ball was a lineman for Bell Telephone Company and was frequently transferred. The family had moved from Jamestown to Anaconda, Montana, and later to Trenton, New Jersey. At the time of Henry's death, DeDe Ball was pregnant with her second child, Frederick. Ball recalled little from the day her father died, but remembered a bird getting trapped in the house. From that day forward, she suffered from ornithophobia.
After Ball's father died, her mother returned to New York. Ball and her brother, Fred Henry Ball (1915–2007), were raised by their mother and maternal grandparents in Celoron, New York, a summer resort village on Lake Chautauqua, 2.5 miles west of downtown Jamestown. Lucy loved Celoron Park, one of the best amusement areas in the United States at that time. Its boardwalk had a ramp to the lake that served as a children's slide, the Pier Ballroom, a roller-coaster, a bandstand, and a stage where vaudeville concerts and regular theatrical shows were presented which made Celoron Park a popular resort.
Four years after Henry Ball's death, DeDe Ball married Edward Peterson. While her mother and stepfather looked for work in another city, Peterson's parents cared for her and her brother. Ball's stepgrandparents were a puritanical Swedish couple who banished all mirrors from the house except one over the bathroom sink. When the young Ball was caught admiring herself in it, she was severely chastised for being vain. This period of time affected Ball so deeply that, in later life, she said that it lasted seven or eight years.
Peterson was a Shriner. When his organization needed female entertainers for the chorus line of their next show, he encouraged his 12-year-old stepdaughter to audition. While Ball was onstage, she realized performing was a great way to gain praise and recognition. Her appetite for recognition was awakened at an early age. In 1927, her family suffered misfortune. Their house and furnishings were lost to settle a financial legal judgment after a neighborhood boy was accidentally shot and paralyzed by someone target shooting in their yard under the supervision of Ball's grandfather. The family subsequently moved into a small apartment in Jamestown.
In 1925, Ball, then only 14, started dating Johnny DeVita, a 21-year-old local hoodlum. DeDe was unhappy with the relationship, but unable to influence her daughter to end it. She expected the romance to burn out after a few weeks, but that did not happen. After about a year, DeDe tried to separate them by exploiting Lucille's desire to be in show business. Despite the family's meager finances, she arranged for Lucille to attend the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts, in New York City, where Bette Davis was a fellow student. She enrolled in 1926. Ball later said about that time in her life, "All I learned in drama school was how to be frightened." Ball's instructors felt she would not be successful in the entertainment business, and were not afraid to say this to her face.
In the face of this harsh criticism, Ball was determined to prove her teachers wrong and returned to New York City in 1928. That same year, she began working for Hattie Carnegie as an in-house model. Carnegie ordered Ball to dye her then-brown hair blonde, and Ball complied. Of this time in her life, Ball said, "Hattie taught me how to slouch properly in a $1,000 hand-sewn sequin dress and how to wear a $40,000 sable coat as casually as rabbit."
In 1932, she moved back to New York City to resume her pursuit of an acting career and supported herself again by working for Carnegie and as the Chesterfield cigarette girl. Using the name Diane (sometimes spelled Dianne) Belmont, she started getting chorus work on Broadway, but it was not lasting. Ball was hired – but then quickly fired – by theatre impresario Earl Carroll, from his Vanities, and by Florenz Ziegfeld, from a touring company of Rio Rita.
After an uncredited stint as a Goldwyn Girl in Roman Scandals (1933), starring Eddie Cantor and Gloria Stuart, Ball moved permanently to Hollywood to appear in films. She had many small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures, including a two-reel comedy short with the Three Stooges (Three Little Pigskins, 1934) and a movie with the Marx Brothers (Room Service, 1938). She also appeared as one of the featured models in the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Roberta (1935), as the flower girl in Top Hat (1935), and in a brief supporting role at the beginning of Follow the Fleet (1936), another Astaire-Rogers film. Ball and Ginger Rogers, who were distant maternal cousins, played aspiring actresses in the film Stage Door along side Katharine Hepburn (1937).
In 1936, she landed the role she hoped would lead her to Broadway, in the Bartlett Cormack play Hey Diddle Diddle, a comedy set in a duplex apartment in Hollywood. The play premiered in Princeton, New Jersey, on January 21, 1937, with Ball playing the part of Julie Tucker, "one of three roommates coping with neurotic directors, confused executives, and grasping stars, who interfere with the girls' ability to get ahead".
The play received good reviews, but problems existed, chiefly with its star, Conway Tearle, who was in poor health. Cormack wanted to replace him, but the producer, Anne Nichols, said the fault lay with the character and insisted that the part needed to be reshaped and rewritten. The two were unable to agree on a solution. The play was scheduled to open on Broadway at the Vanderbilt Theatre, but closed after one week in Washington, DC, when Tearle suddenly became gravely ill.
Ball later auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara for Gone with the Wind (1939), but Vivien Leigh got the part, winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role. Ball signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1940s, but never achieved major stardom there. She was known in Hollywood circles as "Queen of the B's"—a title previously held by Fay Wray—starring in a number of B-movies, such as Five Came Back (1939). Like many budding actresses, Ball picked up radio work to supplement her income and gain exposure. In 1937, she appeared regularly on The Phil Baker Show.
When its run ended in 1938, Ball joined the cast of The Wonder Show starring Jack Haley (best remembered as the Tin Woodman in The Wizard of Oz, 1939). There began her 50-year professional relationship with the show's announcer, Gale Gordon. The Wonder Show lasted one season, with the final episode airing on April 7, 1939. MGM producer Arthur Freed purchased the Broadway hit musical play DuBarry Was a Lady (1943) especially for Ann Sothern, but when she turned down the part, that plum role went to Ball, Sothern's real-life best friend. In 1946, Ball starred in Lover Come Back. In 1947, she appeared in the murder mystery Lured as Sandra Carpenter, a taxi dancer in London.
In 1948, Ball was cast as Liz Cooper (at first "Cugat"; this was changed because listeners were getting the characters confused with a real-life bandleader, Xavier Cugat), a wacky wife, in My Favorite Husband, an audio program for CBS Radio.
The show was successful, and CBS asked her to develop it for television. She agreed, but insisted on working with her real-life husband, Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz. CBS executives were reluctant, thinking the public would not accept an All-American redhead and a Cuban as a couple. CBS was initially unimpressed with the pilot episode, produced by the couple's Desilu Productions company. The pair went on the road with a vaudeville act, in which Lucy played the zany housewife, wanting to get into Arnaz's show. Given the great success of the tour, CBS put I Love Lucy into their lineup.
I Love Lucy was not only a star vehicle for Lucille Ball, but also a potential means for her to salvage her marriage to Arnaz. Their relationship had become badly strained, in part because of their hectic performing schedules, which often kept them apart, but mostly due to Desi's attraction to other women.
Along the way, Ball created a television dynasty and achieved several firsts. She was the first woman to head a TV production company: Desilu, which she had formed with Arnaz. After their divorce, she bought out his share and became a very actively engaged studio head. Desilu and I Love Lucy pioneered a number of methods still in use in TV production today, such as filming before a live studio audience with a number of cameras, and distinct sets, adjacent to each other. During this time, Ball taught a 32-week comedy workshop at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. She was quoted as saying, "You cannot teach someone comedy; either they have it or they don't."
During the run of I Love Lucy, Ball and Arnaz wanted to remain in their Los Angeles home, but time-zone logistics made that difficult. Since prime time in L.A. was too late at night on the East Coast to air a major network series, filming in California would have meant giving most of the TV audience an inferior kinescope picture — and, at least, a day later.
Sponsor Philip Morris did not want to show day-old kinescopes to major East Coast markets, nor did they want to pay the extra cost that filming, processing, and editing would require. So, the company pressured Ball and Arnaz to relocate to New York City. The couple offered to take a pay cut to finance filming, on the condition that Desilu would retain the rights of each episode once it aired. CBS agreed to relinquish the post-first-broadcast rights to Desilu, not realizing they were giving up a valuable and enduring asset. In 1957, CBS bought back the rights for $1,000,000 ($8.92 million in today's terms), providing Ball and Arnaz's down payment for the purchase of the former RKO Pictures studios, which they turned into Desilu Studios.
I Love Lucy dominated U.S. ratings for most of its run. (An attempt was also made, with the same cast and writers, to adapt the show for radio. The pilot adapted the famous "Breaking the Lease" episode, in which the Ricardos and Mertzes argue, and the Ricardos threaten to move, but find themselves stuck in a firm lease. The resulting radio audition disc has survived, but never aired.)
A scene in which Lucy and Ricky practice the tango, in the episode "Lucy Does The Tango", evoked the longest recorded studio audience laugh in the history of the show — so long that the sound editor had to cut that section of the soundtrack in half. During the show's production breaks, Lucy and Desi starred together in two feature films: The Long, Long Trailer (1954) and Forever, Darling (1956). After I Love Lucy ended its run in 1957, the main cast continued to appear in occasional hour-long specials under the title The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour until 1960.
Desilu produced several other popular shows, such as The Untouchables, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible. The studio was eventually sold in 1967 for $17,000,000 ($128 million in today's terms) and merged into Paramount Pictures.
The 1960 Broadway musical Wildcat ended its run early when Ball became too ill to continue in the show. The show was the source of the song she made famous, "Hey, Look Me Over", which she performed with Paula Stewart on The Ed Sullivan Show. Ball hosted a CBS Radio talk show entitled Let's Talk to Lucy in 1964–65. She also made a few more movies including Yours, Mine, and Ours (1968), and the musical Mame (1974), and two more successful long-running sitcoms for CBS: The Lucy Show (1962–68), which costarred Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon, and Here's Lucy (1968–74), which also featured Gordon, as well as Lucy's real-life children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. She appeared on the Dick Cavett show in 1974 and spoke of her history and life with Arnaz.
Ball's close friends in the business included perennial co-star Vivian Vance and film stars Judy Garland, Ann Sothern, and Ginger Rogers, and comedic television performers Jack Benny, Barbara Pepper, Mary Wickes and Mary Jane Croft; all except Garland appeared at least once on her various series. Former Broadway co-stars Keith Andes and Paula Stewart also appeared at least once on her later sitcoms, as did Joan Blondell, Rich Little and Ann-Margret. Ball mentored actress and singer Carole Cook, and befriended Barbara Eden, when Eden appeared on an episode of I Love Lucy.
In 1959, Ball became a friend and mentor to Carol Burnett. She guested on Burnett's highly successful CBS-TV special Carol + 2 and the younger performer reciprocated by appearing on The Lucy Show. It was rumored that Ball offered Burnett a chance to star on her own sitcom, but in truth Burnett was offered (and declined) "Here's Agnes" by CBS executives. She instead chose to create her own variety show due to a stipulation that was on an existing contract she had with CBS. The two women remained close friends until Ball's death in 1989. Ball sent flowers every year on Burnett's birthday. When Burnett awoke on the day of her 56th birthday in 1989, she discovered via the morning news that Lucille Ball had died. Later that afternoon, flowers arrived at Burnett's house with a note reading, "Happy Birthday, Kid. Love, Lucy."
Ball was originally considered by Frank Sinatra for the role of Mrs. Iselin in the Cold War thriller The Manchurian Candidate. Director/producer John Frankenheimer, however, had worked with Angela Lansbury in a mother role in All Fall Down and insisted on having her for the part.
Ball was the lead actress in a number of comedy television specials to about 1980, including Lucy Calls the President which featured Vivian Vance, Gale Gordon and Mary Jane Croft, and Lucy Moves to NBC, a special depicting a fictionalization of her move to the NBC television network.
During the mid-1980s, Ball attempted to resurrect her television career. In 1982, she hosted a two-part Three's Company retrospective, showing clips from the show's first five seasons, summarizing memorable plotlines, and commenting on her love of the show.
A 1985 dramatic made-for-TV film about an elderly homeless woman, Stone Pillow, received mixed reviews. Her 1986 sitcom comeback Life with Lucy, costarring her longtime foil Gale Gordon and co-produced by Ball, Gary Morton, and prolific producer/former actor Aaron Spelling was cancelled less than two months into its run by ABC. In February 1988, Ball was named the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year.
In May 1988, Ball was hospitalized after suffering a mild heart attack. Her last public appearance, just one month before her death, was at the 1989 Academy Awards telecast in which she and fellow presenter Bob Hope were given a standing ovation.
To sponsor the Communist Party's 1936 candidate for the California State Assembly's 57th District, Ball signed a certificate stating, "I am registered as affiliated with the Communist Party." The same year, she was appointed to the State Central Committee of the Communist Party of California, according to records of the California Secretary of State. In 1937, Hollywood writer Rena Vale, a self-identified former Communist, attended a Communist Party new members' class at Ball's home, according to Vale's testimony before the United States House of Representatives' Special House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), on July 22, 1940. Two years later, Vale affirmed this testimony in a sworn deposition:
Within a few days after my third application to join the Communist Party was made, I received a notice to attend a meeting on North Ogden Drive, Hollywood; although it was a typed, unsigned note, merely requesting my presence at the address at 8 o'clock in the evening on a given day, I knew it was the long-awaited notice to attend Communist Party new members classes ... on arrival at this address I found several others present; an elderly man informed us that we were the guests of the screen actress, Lucille Ball, and showed us various pictures, books, and other objects to establish that fact, and stated she was glad to loan her home for a Communist Party new members class.— Affidavit of Rena M. Vale, November 23, 1942. Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California.
In a 1944 British Pathé newsreel, titled Fund Raising for Roosevelt, Ball was featured prominently among several stage and film stars at events in support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's fundraising campaign for the March of Dimes. She stated that in the 1952 US Presidential Election, she voted for Republican Dwight Eisenhower.
On September 4, 1953, Ball met privately with HUAC investigator William A. Wheeler in Hollywood and gave him sealed testimony. She stated that she had registered to vote as a Communist "or intended to vote the Communist Party ticket" in 1936 at her socialist grandfather's insistence. She stated she "at no time intended to vote as a Communist",
Ball stated she has never been a member of the Communist Party "to her knowledge" ... [She] did not know whether or not any meetings were ever held at her home at 1344 North Ogden Drive; stated... [that if she had been appointed] as a delegate to the State Central Committee of the Communist Party of California in 1936 it was done without her knowledge or consent; [and stated that she] did not recall signing the document sponsoring EMIL FREED for the Communist Party nomination to the office of member of the assembly for the 57th District ... A review of the subject's file reflects no activity that would warrant her inclusion on the Security Index.
Immediately before the filming of episode 68 ("The Girls Go Into Business") of I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz, instead of his usual audience warm-up, told the audience about Lucy and her grandfather. Reusing the line he had first given to Hedda Hopper in an interview, he quipped: "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate."
In 1940, Ball met Cuban-born bandleader Desi Arnaz while filming the Rodgers and Hart stage hit Too Many Girls. When they met again on the second day, the two connected immediately and eloped the same year. Although Arnaz was drafted into the Army in 1942, he ended up being classified for limited service due to a knee injury. As a result, Arnaz stayed in Los Angeles, organizing and performing USO shows for wounded GIs being brought back from the Pacific.
Ball filed for divorce in 1944, going so far as obtaining an interlocutory decree; however, she and Arnaz reconciled, which precluded the entry of a final decree.
On July 17, 1951, one month before her 40th birthday, Ball gave birth to daughter Lucie Désirée Arnaz. A year and a half later, Ball gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr. Before he was born, I Love Lucy was a solid ratings hit, and Ball and Arnaz wrote the pregnancy into the show. (Ball's necessary and planned caesarean section in real life was scheduled for the same date that her television character gave birth.)
Several demands were made by CBS, insisting that a pregnant woman could not be shown on television, nor could the word "pregnant" be spoken on-air. After approval from several religious figures the network allowed the pregnancy storyline, but insisted that the word "expecting" be used instead of "pregnant". (Arnaz garnered laughs when he deliberately mispronounced it as "'spectin'".) The episode's official title was "Lucy Is Enceinte", borrowing the French word for pregnant; however, episode titles never appeared on the show.
The episode aired on the evening of January 19, 1953, with 44 million viewers watching Lucy Ricardo welcome little Ricky, while in real life Ball delivered her second child, Desi Jr., that same day in Los Angeles. The birth made the cover of the first issue of TV Guide for the week of April 3–9, 1953.
In October 1956, Ball, Arnaz, Vance, and William Frawley all appeared on a Bob Hope special on NBC, including a spoof of I Love Lucy, the only time all four stars were together on a color telecast. By the end of the 1950s, Desilu had become a large company, causing a good deal of stress for both Ball and Arnaz.
On March 3, 1960, a day after Desi's 43rd birthday (and one day after the filming of Lucy and Desi's last episode together), Ball filed papers in Santa Monica Superior Court, claiming married life with Desi was "a nightmare" and nothing at all as it appeared on I Love Lucy.
On May 4, 1960, just two months after filming that episode (the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour), the couple divorced. Until his death in 1986, however, Arnaz and Ball remained friends and often spoke very fondly of each other. Her real-life divorce indirectly found its way into her later television series, as she was always cast as an unmarried woman.
The following year, Ball starred in the Broadway musical Wildcat, which co-starred Keith Andes and Paula Stewart. It marked the beginning of a 30-year friendship between Lucy and Stewart, who introduced Lucy to second husband, Gary Morton, a Borscht Belt comic who was 13 years her junior. According to Ball, Morton claimed he had never seen an episode of I Love Lucy due to his hectic work schedule. Ball immediately installed Morton in her production company, teaching him the television business and eventually promoting him to producer. Morton played occasional bit parts on Ball's various series.
Ball was outspoken against the relationship her son had with actress Patty Duke. Later, commenting on when her son dated Liza Minnelli, she was quoted as saying, "I miss Liza, but you cannot domesticate Liza."
On April 18, 1989, Ball complained of chest pains at her home in Beverly Hills and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent an eight-hour aortic transplant. The surgery was successful, and Ball was soon able to walk around her room with little assistance. She received a flurry of get-well wishes, and across the street from the hospital the Hard Rock Café erected a sign reading "Hard Rock Loves Lucy".
Shortly after dawn on April 26, Ball awoke with severe back pains then lost consciousness; she died at 5:47 a.m. PDT. Doctors determined that Ball had succumbed to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm not directly related to her upper aneurysm and surgery. Ball had been a heavy smoker most of her life, increasing her risk of abdominal aneurysm.
Her body was cremated and the ashes were initially interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. In 2002, her children moved her remains to the Hunt family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where her grandparents are buried.
On February 8, 1960, Ball was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one at 6436 Hollywood Boulevard for contributions to motion pictures, and one at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard for television.
Ball received many prestigious awards throughout her career, including some posthumously such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush on July 6, 1989, and The Women's International Center's 'Living Legacy Award'.
A Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center museum is in Lucy's hometown of Jamestown, New York. The Little Theatre was renamed the Lucille Ball Little Theatre in her honor. Ball was among Time magazine's "100 Most Important People of the Century".
On June 7, 1990, Universal Studios Florida opened a walk-through attraction dedicated to Ball, Lucy – A Tribute, which featured clips of shows, as well as various pieces of trivia about her, along with items owned by or associated with Lucille, and an interactive quiz for guests. The attraction was permanently closed on August 17, 2015.
Ball appeared on the cover of TV Guide more than any other person; she appeared on 39 covers, including the first cover in 1953 with her baby son, Desi Arnaz, Jr. TV Guide voted Lucille Ball as the 'Greatest TV Star of All Time' and it later commemorated the 50th anniversary of I Love Lucy with eight collector covers celebrating memorable scenes from the show. In another instance it named I Love Lucy the second-best television program in American history, after Seinfeld.
The Friars Club named a room in its New York clubhouse for Lucille Ball (the Lucille Ball Room). She was posthumously awarded the 'Legacy of Laughter' award at the fifth Annual TV Land Awards in 2007. In November 2007, Lucille Ball was chosen as number two on a list of the '50 Greatest TV Icons'; a public poll, however, chose her as number one.
On August 6, 2011, which would have been her 100th birthday, Google honored Ball with an interactive doodle on their homepage, which displayed six classic moments from I Love Lucy. On the same day, a total of 915 Ball look-alikes converged on Jamestown to celebrate the birthday and set a new world record for such a gathering.
Since 2009, a statue of Ball has been on display in Celoron, New York. Residents deemed that statue "scary" and not accurate, earning it the nickname "Scary Lucy". On August 1, 2016, it was announced that a new statue of Ball would replace it. The new statue replaced the old one on August 6, 2016. However, since the old statue became a local tourist attraction after receiving media attention, it was placed 75 yards from its original location so visitors could visit both statues.
Ball was portrayed by Sarah Drew in I Love Lucy: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom, a comedy about how Ball and her husband battled to get their sitcom on the air. It had its world premiere in Los Angeles on July 12, 2018, co-starring Oscar Nuñez as Desi Arnaz, and Seamus Dever as I Love Lucy creator-producer-head writer Jess Oppenheimer. The play, written by Jess Oppenheimer's son, Gregg Oppenheimer, was recorded in front of a live audience for nationwide public radio broadcast and online distribution.
Ball was a well known gay rights supporter stating in a 1980 interview with People, "It's perfectly all right with me. Some of the most gifted people I’ve ever met or read about are homosexual. How can you knock it?"
|1944||Suspense||"Dime a Dance"|
|1944||Suspense||"The Ten Grand"|
|1944||Lux Radio Theatre||"Lucky Partners"|
|1945||Suspense||"A Shroud for Sarah"|
|1947||Lux Radio Theatre||"The Dark Corner"|
|1951||Screen Directors Playhouse||Bachelor Mother|
|1948–51||My Favorite Husband||7/5/48 – 3/24/51|
|American Comedy Awards||1987||Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy||Won|
|Golden Apple Awards||1963||Most Cooperative Actress||Nominated|
|1973||Female Star of the Year||Won|
|Golden Globes||1961||Best Actress — Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||The Facts of Life||Nominated|
|1968||Best TV Star — Female||The Lucy Show||Nominated|
|1969||Best Actress — Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||Yours, Mine and Ours||Nominated|
|1970||Best Actress — Television Comedy or Musical||Here's Lucy||Nominated|
|1972||Best Actress — Television Comedy or Musical||Here's Lucy||Nominated|
|1975||Best Actress — Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||Mame||Nominated|
|1979||Cecil B. DeMille Award||Won|
|Hasty Pudding Theatricals||1988||Woman of the Year||Won|
|The Kennedy Center Honors||1986||Kennedy Center Honors||Won|
|Laurel Awards||1961||Top Female Comedy Performance||The Facts of Life||Nominated|
|1968||Female Comedy Performance||Yours, Mine and Ours||Won|
|OFTA Television Awards||1997||Television Hall of Fame — Actors and Actress||Won|
|Palm Springs International Film Festival||1990||Desert Palm Achievement Award||Won|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||1952||Best Comedian or Comedienne||Nominated|
|1953||Most Outstanding Personality||Nominated|
|1954||Best Female Star of Regular Series||I Love Lucy||Nominated|
|1955||Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series||I Love Lucy||Nominated|
|1956||Best Actress — Continuing Performance||I Love Lucy||Won|
|1957||Best Continuing Performance by a Comedienne in a Series||I Love Lucy||Nominated|
|1958||Best Continuing Performance (Female) in a Series by a Comedienne, Singer, Hostess, Dancer, M.C. Announcer, Narrator, Panelist, or any Person who essentially Plays Herself||I Love Lucy||Nominated|
|1963||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead)||The Lucy Show||Nominated|
|1966||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series||The Lucy Show||Nominated|
|1967||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series||The Lucy Show||Won|
|1968||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series||The Lucy Show||Won|
|TCA Awards||1989||Career Achievement Award||Won|
|TV Land Awards||2007||Legacy of Laughter Award||Won|
|Walk of Fame||1960||Television — 6100 Hollywood, Blvd.||Won|
|Motion Picture — 6436 Hollywood, Blvd.||Won|
|Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards||1977||Crystal Award||Won|
Ball gives birth to her children
Lucille Ball is recovering and dies
Ball wins four Emmys and nominated for a total of 13
Ball and Rogers are lifelong friends
"Stage Door" gives Ball her big break
Lucy and The Wonder Show
CBS executives originally did not want Ball, a sassy redhead, married to a Latino on the program
Ball first woman to head a major studio
Arnaz did not want kinescope
Longest laugh in television history
Ball hosts Three's Company reflective
"Life With Lucy" turns out to be a flop
Ball's real life divorce makes it into her new shows ... showing her as a single woman
Living Legacy Award
Renaming of the 'Little Theater' in Jamestown, New York
Ball honored on a Postage Stamp
Lucy appears on thirty-nine covers of TV guide
TV Guide's second greatest or most influential show of all time
Ball inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame
Lucille Ball and several other actors participate
About her long-time, 25 years, employer Lucille Ball
The 4th Emmy Awards, retroactively known as the 4th Primetime Emmy Awards after the debut of the Daytime Emmy Awards, were presented at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, California on February 18, 1952. The ceremonies were hosted by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
This was the first year that nominations were considered on a national television network basis. Previously, the Emmys were primarily given out to shows that were produced or aired in the Los Angeles area.Annabel Takes a Tour
Annabel Takes a Tour is a 1938 comedy directed by Lew Landers, starring Lucille Ball and Jack Oakie. Annabel (Lucille Ball) is on a promotional tour and, as a publicity stunt, leaks a story that she is having a romantic fling with a famous romance novelist. The film is a sequel to The Affairs of Annabel.Best Foot Forward (1943 film)
Best Foot Forward is a 1943 American musical film adapted from the 1941 Broadway musical comedy of the same title. The film was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Edward Buzzell, and starred Lucille Ball, William Gaxton, Virginia Weidler, Chill Wills, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, and Nancy Walker.
The actors did their own singing, except for Lucille Ball, whose singing was dubbed by Gloria Grafton; Virginia Weidler, whose singing was dubbed by Jeanne Darrell; and Jack Jordan, whose singing was dubbed by Ralph Blane.
Weidler, then 16 years old, retired from acting after this film was made, making Best Foot Forward her final screen appearance.Desi Arnaz
Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III (March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986), better known as Desi Arnaz, was a Cuban-born American actor, musician, and television producer. He is best remembered for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the American television series sitcom I Love Lucy. He co-starred on that show with dramatic and comedic actress Lucille Ball (1911–1989), to whom he was married at the time. He and Ball are generally credited as the innovators of the syndicated rerun, which they pioneered with the I Love Lucy series.Arnaz and Lucille Ball co-founded and ran the television production company Desilu Productions, originally to market I Love Lucy to television networks. After I Love Lucy ended, Arnaz went on to produce several other television series, at first with Desilu Productions, and later independently, examples of which included The Ann Sothern Show and The Untouchables. He was also renowned for leading his Latin music band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra.Desilu Productions
Desilu Productions () was an American production company founded and co-owned by husband and wife Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, best known for shows such as I Love Lucy, Star Trek, and The Untouchables. Until 1962, Desilu was the second-largest independent television production company in the U.S., behind MCA's Revue Productions, until MCA bought Universal Pictures and Desilu became and remained the number-one independent production company, until being sold in 1967.Ball and Arnaz jointly owned the majority stake in Desilu from its inception until 1962, when Ball bought out Arnaz and ran the company by herself for several years. Ball had succeeded in making Desilu profitable again by 1967, when she sold her shares of Desilu to Gulf+Western for $17 million (a valued $128 million in 2018). Gulf+Western then transformed Desilu into the television production arm of Paramount Pictures, rebranding the company as the original Paramount Television.
Desilu's entire library is owned by CBS through two of its subsidiaries. The network itself owns all Desilu properties that were produced and concluded before 1960, which were sold to CBS by Desilu itself. Its CBS Television Studios unit owns the rights to everything Desilu produced after 1960 as successor in interest to Paramount Television.Du Barry Was a Lady (film)
Du Barry Was a Lady is a 1943 American musical comedy film, starring Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly and Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra. It is based on the 1939 stage musical of the same name. Shot in Technicolor, the film was directed by Roy Del Ruth and produced and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.Her Husband's Affairs
Her Husband's Affairs is a 1947 American romantic comedy film, directed by S. Sylvan Simon for Columbia Pictures. It stars Lucille Ball, Franchot Tone, and Edward Everett Horton .I Love Lucy
I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom that originally ran on CBS from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes spanning 6 seasons (including the 'lost' original pilot and Christmas episode). The show starred Lucille Ball, her real-life husband Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. It followed the life of Lucy Ricardo (Ball), a middle class housewife in New York City, who either concocted plans with her best friends (Vance & Frawley) to appear alongside her bandleader husband Ricky Ricardo (Arnaz) in his nightclub, or tried numerous schemes to mingle with, or be a part of show business. After the series ended in 1957, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials; it ran from 1957 to 1960. It was first known as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour. Following the end of that, Ball divorced Arnaz and appeared in three other sitcoms into 1986.
I Love Lucy became the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and it was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings (an accomplishment later matched only by The Andy Griffith Show in 1968 and Seinfeld in 1998). As of 2011, episodes of the show have been syndicated in dozens of languages across the world and remain popular with an American audience of 40 million each year. A colorized version of its Christmas episode attracted more than 8 million viewers when CBS aired it in prime time in 2013—62 years after the show premiered; CBS has aired two to three new colorized episodes each year since then, once at Christmas and again in the spring.The show, which was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35mm film in front of a studio audience, won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations and honors. It was the first show ever to feature an ensemble cast. It is often regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms in history. In 2012, it was voted the 'Best TV Show of All Time' in a survey conducted by ABC News and People magazine.Life with Lucy
Life with Lucy is an American sitcom starring Lucille Ball that aired for one season on ABC from September 20 to November 15, 1986. It is the only Lucille Ball sitcom to not air on CBS. Only 8 out of the 13 episodes produced were aired before ABC cancelled the series. Unlike Ball's previous sitcoms, Life with Lucy was a failure in the ratings and poorly received by critics and viewers alike, ranking among the worst sitcoms in broadcasting history.Lucie Arnaz
Lucie Désirée Arnaz (born July 17, 1951) is an American actress, singer and producer.Lucy (2003 film)
Lucy is a 2003 television film directed by Glenn Jordan. It is based on the life and career of actress and comedian Lucille Ball.My Favorite Husband
My Favorite Husband is the name of an American radio program and network television series. The original radio show, starring Lucille Ball, evolved into the groundbreaking television sitcom I Love Lucy. The series was based on the novels Mr. and Mrs. Cugat, the Record of a Happy Marriage (1940) and Outside Eden (1945) written by Isabel Scott Rorick, the earlier of which had previously been adapted into the Paramount Pictures feature film Are Husbands Necessary? (1942), co-starring Ray Milland and Betty Field.The Dark Corner
The Dark Corner is a 1946 black-and-white film noir directed by Henry Hathaway starring Lucille Ball, Mark Stevens and Clifton Webb.The Lucy Show
The Lucy Show is an American sitcom that aired on CBS from 1962 to 1968. It was Lucille Ball's follow-up to I Love Lucy. A significant change in cast and premise for the fourth season (1965–1966) divides the program into two distinct eras; aside from Ball, only Gale Gordon, who joined the program for its second season, remained. For the first three seasons, Vivian Vance was the co-star.
The earliest scripts were entitled The Lucille Ball Show, but when this title was rejected by CBS, producers thought of calling the show This Is Lucy or The New Adventures of Lucy, before deciding on the title The Lucy Show. Ball won consecutive Emmy Awards as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the series' final two seasons, 1966–67 and 1967–68.The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour
The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour is a collection of thirteen black-and-white one-hour specials airing occasionally from 1957 to 1960 (as opposed to a thirty-minute regular series). The first five were shown as specials during the 1957–58 television season. The remaining eight were originally shown as part of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. Its original network title was The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the first season, and The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Presents The Lucille Ball–Desi Arnaz Show for the following seasons. The successor to the classic comedy, I Love Lucy, the programs featured the same cast members: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, and Little Ricky (billed as Richard Keith in his post-Lucy–Desi acting assignments). The production schedule avoided the grind of a regular weekly series.Desilu produced the show, which was mostly filmed at their Los Angeles studios with occasional on-location shoots at Lake Arrowhead, Las Vegas, and Sun Valley, Idaho. CBS reran these thirteen specials under the "Lucy–Desi" title as five prime time summer replacements, from 1962 to 1965, with a final run in 1967. 1966–67 was the first TV season in which all first-run prime time network shows were in color. These "Lucy–Desi" repeats were the only black and white series aired that year, after which it, and I Love Lucy, went into syndication.Twelve Crowded Hours
Twelve Crowded Hours is a 1939 film directed by Lew Landers and starring Richard Dix and Lucille Ball.Valley of the Sun (film)
Valley of the Sun is a 1942 film directed by George Marshall and starring Lucille Ball and James Craig.Vivian Vance
Vivian Vance (born Vivian Roberta Jones; July 26, 1909 – August 17, 1979) was an American television and theater actress and singer. Vance is best known for her role as Ethel Mertz, sidekick to Lucille Ball on the American television sitcom I Love Lucy, and as Vivian Bagley on The Lucy Show.You're Nearer
"You're Nearer" is an American popular song by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart (Rodgers and Hart) from the 1940 film version of the Broadway musical Too Many Girls. It was not in the original Broadway show but was written especially for the movie and copyrighted on August 29, 1940. In the film, it was sung by Lucille Ball (dubbed by Trudy Erwin) and also by Frances Langford with Ann Miller, Libby Bennett and Lucille Ball (again dubbed by Trudy Erwin).It was planned to use the song in the 1948 film Words and Music but a recording by Perry Como was ultimately cut from the film. Como's version eventually appeared amongst the outtakes included on the 2007 DVD release.The song has been recorded by a plethora of artists.
Awards for Lucille Ball