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.
This Theme Time bio is dedicated to Angie of King Ben’s Grandma!
I grew up with I Love Lucy as a show in Australia, l don’t honestly remember watching it here in the UK, and l used to really love to watch her at work. Very, very funny lady – so tell me folks – were you fans as well?
Here’s 10 of the Best of Lucy in my eyes!
1 – I Love Lucy – 1951 – 1957
Lucy Ricardo is the wacky wife of Cuban bandleader Ricky Ricardo. Living in New York, Ricky tries to succeed in show business while Lucy — always trying to help — usually manages to get in some kind of trouble that drives Ricky crazy. Their best friends are Fred and Ethel Mertz, who are also their landlords. Usually, Ethel becomes Lucy’s less-than-willing partner in crime. Ricky and Lucy welcomed little Ricky in 1953, whose birth was a national TV event. Later in the show’s run, the Ricardos (and the Mertzes) moved to Hollywood, where Ricky tried to become a movie star.
2 – The Long, Long Trailer – 1953
Nicholas Collini (Desi Arnaz) has to travel for his job as an engineer — so his fiancée, Tacy (Lucille Ball), suggests that rather than buy a house after their wedding, they invest in a motor home so they can see the country together. But the aggravations of life with nosy trailer park neighbors and the dangers of piloting an enormous trailer across narrow country roads soon take their toll on the happy couple, putting their young marriage in turmoil.
3 – The Lucy Show – 1962 – 1968
4 – Here’s Lucy – 1968 – 1974
5 – Forever Darling – 1956
6 – Mame – 1974
7 – Yours, Mine and Ours – 1968
8 – The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour – 1957 – 1960
9 – Too Many Girls – 1940
After being deported from Europe for troublemaking, impulsive heiress Connie Casey (Lucille Ball) enrolls in her father’s alma mater in Stop Gap, New Mexico, to be near a British playwright on whom she has a crush. Connie’s father hires four Ivy League football players to act as Connie’s bodyguards; each must sign a contract with an anti-romance clause. Upon arriving at the college, the men, led by Clint Kelly (Richard Carlson), show more interest in football than in Connie, rousing her wrath.
10 – Five Came Back – 1939
In this 1939 drama, nine passengers from all walks of life and a crew of three take off from Los Angeles, bound for Panama City, but a sudden storm blows them off course and causes the plane to crash in the Amazon jungle. As the weeks pass, and the danger of death at the hands of violent natives grows, ex-prostitute Peggy (Lucille Ball), pilot Bill Brooks (Chester Morris), Detective Crimp (John Carradine), and their fellow passengers struggle to repair the plane — but only five can escape.
So there we go folks, my personal line up of Lucille Ball, now what were yours?