I Love Lucy

by K-Dean

The Lucy Desi Center, located in Jamestown, New York has a mission to preserve and celebrate the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and to enrich the world through the healing powers of love and laughter through its commitment to the development of the comedic arts.

Lucille Desire Ball was born August 6, 1911, in Jamestown, New York. In 1915, her father died of typhoid fever and so she and her brother were raised by their mother and grandparents. Ball’s grandfather was an eccentric fellow who enjoyed theatre. He brought the family to see shows and encouraged his grand daughter to take part in school plays. Ball realized at an early age that being onstage was the perfect way for her to get the praise and recognition she craved. In 1927, Ball attended John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City where she met fellow actress Bette Davis. Ball’s stay at school didn’t last very long, as her acting coaches sent her home for being too shy. She was not ready to give up, and returned to New York in 1929 to work as a model. Her career was finally going somewhere when she became ill with rheumatoid arthritis and had to quit working for two years. In 1932 she returned once again to New York City to follow through with her dreams of being an actress. She found some work modeling for Hattie Carnegie’s and in 1933, she was chosen to be a “Goldwyn Girl” and appeared in the film Roman Scandals.

Ball moved to Hollywood and signed a contract with RKO and appeared in many small movie roles in the 1930s. In Hollywood she became known as Queen of the B’s because of the number of B list movies she starred in. Occasionally she got roles in A-list movies such as Stage Door and The Big Street. In 1940 while filming Too Many Girls, she met and fell in love with a young Cuban actor named Desi Arnaz. The couple connected right away and eloped later that year. Their marriage also extended to their work as they created a production company called Desilu. Ball went on to star in films such as Best Foot Forward and Without Love. In 1948 she took the starring role on a CBS radio comedy called My Favorite Husband. The program was a success and soon enough became a television series. Ball tried repeatedly to get her real life husband Arnaz, to be allowed to play her TV husband on the show. After the network agreed, I Love Lucy was born. Ball became the first woman in television to own the rights and creative control over a series. On July 17, 1951, just after Ball turn 40, she gave birth to her first child Lucie Desiree Arnaz. A year and a half later, she gave birth to her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr. Ball tackled the subject of pregnancy on television, something that was not allowed to be spoken of or seen on TV. She won the approval of several religion figures and the network allowed the pregnancy storyline. The birth episode made the first cover of TV Guide in January 1953. By the end of the 1950s, Desilu had become a large company, putting a lot of stress on Ball and Arnaz, which eventually ended their marriage. After her divorce from Arnaz, Ball bought his share of the studio and continued to function as an active studio head. I Love Lucy dominated the weekly TV ratings in the United States for most of its run and was the most watched show in four of its six seasons.

Ball performed in a musical on Broadway in 1960 called Wildcat , where she met long-time friend Paula Stewart and second husband Gary Morton. In the late 60s and 70s she starred in a few more movies including Yours, Mine and Ours, and two more successful long-running sitcoms for CBS, The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy.

On April 18, 1989, Ball was diagnosed with having a dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery, to receive an aorta from a 27 year old male donor. The surgery was a success up until April 26, when her aorta had ruptured in a second location. She passed away at the age of 77 years old. Her ashes were initially interred in Forest Lawn- Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, but in 2002 her children moved her remains to the family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where Ball’s mother, father, brother, and grandparents are buried.

Read more:

Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Center

Lucille Ball | imdb.com

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