Lucille Ball

John Florens | May 2, 2024

Table of Content


Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 (1911-08-06) - April 26, 1989) was an American comedy actress, singer, model, executive producer, and studio executive. She was the star of her own sitcoms, I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, Life with Lucy, and a special comedy television program that aired as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

Ball's career began in 1929, when she got a job as a model. Soon after, she began her career on Broadway, using the stage names "Diane Belmont" and "Diane Belmont." Later, under contract to RKO Pictures, she appeared in several minor film roles in the 1930s and 1940s, as a chorister and similar roles. That's when she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, and they eloped together in November 1940. In the 1950s, Ball took up television. And in 1951, she and Arnaz created the sitcom "I Love Lucy," a series that became one of the most beloved programs in television history. That same year, Ball gave birth to her first child, Lucy Arnas, and in 1953, Desi Arnas Jr. Ball and Arnas divorced in May 1960, and she married comedian Gary Morton in 1961.

After the end of the I Love Lucy series, Ball went on to perform in the Broadway musical Wildcat, for a year from 1960 to 1961. Although the play received lukewarm reviews, it was closed following Ball's illness. After the musical Wildcat, Ball reunited with Vivian Vance, an actress playing one of the supporting roles in the aforementioned I Love Lucy series, in The Lucy Show. Vance left the project in 1965, but Lucy continued to do the show for three more years with her longtime friend Gale Gordon, who, at the time, already had a full-time role in 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 move away from movies completely; in 1985, Ball played a dramatic role in the television movie Stone Pillow. The following year was the filming of Life with Lucy, which, unlike her other comedy work, was not well received by audiences, and the show was closed after three months. Lucille continued to appear in movies and television for the rest of her time, until her death in April 1989, from an aortic rupture, at the age of 77.

Ball was nominated 13 times for a Primetime Emmy Award, winning it four times. In 1960, she received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 1977 she was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Award for "Crystal". She was the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Golden Globe Award in 1979, was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1984, and so was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Kennedy Center in 1986, and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1989.

Lucille Ball was born at 69 Stewart Avenue in Jamestown, New York, the daughter of Henry Durrell Ball (1887-1915) and Desiree "DeDe" Evelyn Ball (1892-1977), (née Hunt). For a time her family lived in Wyandotte, Michigan. Sometimes Lucille said she was born in Butte, Montana, where her grandparents lived. Several magazines wrote as if she had decided that Montana was a more romantic place to be born than New York, and she often fantasized about a "Western childhood." However, her father moved the family to Anaconda, where he was transferred for work, as were many other places.

Her family belonged to the Baptist Church. Her ancestors were mostly English, but there were also Scots, French, and Irish. Some were among the first settlers in the Thirteen Colonies, including Elder John Crandall of Westerly, Rhode Island, and Edmund Rice, who had previously emigrated 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 was an assembler for the Bell Telephone Company, and he was often transferred. The family moved from Jamestown to Anaconda, Montana, and then to Trenton, New Jersey. At the time of Henry's death, DeeDee Ball was pregnant with her second child, Frederick. Lucy remembered little of the day her father died, but she remembered well the bird trapped in the house. Since that day she had suffered from ornithophobia.

After her husband's death, Lucy's mother returned to New York City. Lucille and her brother Fred Henry Ball (1915-2007) were raised by their mother and maternal grandparents in Celoron, New York, a resort village on Lake Chautauqua, 2.5 miles west of downtown Jamestown. Lucille loved Celoron Park, one of the best amusement parks in the United States at the time. Its waterfront had a slope to the lake that was used as a park for children, a dance hall on the pier, a roller coaster, and a bandstand and stage where vaudeville concerts and regular theater productions were held, which made Celoron Park a popular resort.

Four years after her husband's death, Dee Dee married Edward Peterson. While her mother and stepfather sought work in another city, Peterson's parents took care of her and her brother. This family was a couple of Swedish Puritans who got rid of all the mirrors in the house except the one above the bathroom sink. When little Lucy was caught admiring herself in this mirror, she was severely punished for her vanity. That period of time touched Ball so deeply that as an adult she recalled it bitterly, and said it stretched on for seven or eight years.

Peterson was a shriner, and when his society needed female performers for the choir in their show, he always brought his 12-year-old stepdaughter to audition. During one of her stage performances, she realized it was a great way to get praise and recognition. Her appetite for recognition was awakened at an early age. In 1927, disaster struck her family. Their house and furniture were sold off to settle legal costs after a neighborhood boy was paralyzed by an accidental wounding by someone shooting in the front yard of their house, in the presence of Grandpa Ball. The family subsequently moved to a small apartment in Jamestown.

Career Launch

In 1925 Ball, who was only 14 years old, began dating Johnny DeWitt, a 21-year-old local bully. DeDee was unhappy with the relationship, but there was nothing she could do to influence her daughter to put an end to it. She expected the affair to burn out after a few weeks, but it didn't. About a year later, DeeDee tried to break them up by exploiting Lucille's desire to pursue show business. Despite the family's meager finances, she arranged for Lucy to attend the John Murray Anderson School of Dramatic Art in New York, where her classmate was Bette Davis. Ball later recounted that period in her life, "All I learned in drama school was how to be scared." Ball's instructors felt she would not succeed in the entertainment industry and were not afraid to tell her to her face.

After such harsh criticism, Ball decided to prove her teachers wrong and returned to New York in 1928. That same year she began working for Hattie Carnegie as her own model, Carnegie advised Ball to dye her brown hair blond, and Ball complied with her request. Of this period, Ball said, "Hetty taught me how to sit properly in a $1,000 handmade sequin dress and how to wear a $4,000 sable coat as casually as if it were made of rabbit."

Ball's career flourished even as she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and was unable to work for two years.

In 1932 she moved to New York City to resume her acting career, and to support herself financially she worked for Carnegie and promoted Chesterfield cigarettes. Using the name Diane (sometimes spelled Diane) Belmont, she earned money by singing in a Broadway choir, but that didn't last long. Ball was hired--and then quickly fired--by theater impresario Earl Carroll (English) (Russian, for his "Vanities" and Florence Ziegfeld for his touring company musical "Rio Rita."


After a minor role as "Goldwyn's Girl" in Roman Gossip (1933), starring Eddie Cantor and Gloria Stewart, Ball moved to Hollywood to act in films. In the 1930s she played many small roles in films, under contract to RKO Pictures, including the short comedy Three Little Pigs (1934) and the Marx Brothers (Service (1936)). She also appeared as one of the models in Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' Roberta (1935), as a florist in Cylinder (1935), and in a minor role, early in Following the Fleet (1936) (another Astaire and Rogers film). Ball and Rogers were distant maternal relatives and played aspiring actresses in Door to Stage (1937) along with the still unknown Katharine Hepburn.

In 1936 she landed the role that she hoped would lead her to Broadway, in Bartlett Cormack's play Hey, Twist and Turn, a comedy about a duplex apartment in Hollywood. The play premiered in Princeton, New Jersey, on January 21, 1937, where Ball played the role of Julia Tucker, one of three roommates coping with neurotic directors, embarrassed executives and grabby celebrities who keep the girls from getting ahead.

The play got good reviews, but the main problems were with star Conway Tyrle, who was in poor health. Cormac wanted to replace him, but producer Ann Nichols (rus.) said it was all the character's fault and insisted that part of the play be changed and rewritten. The two could not agree and find a final solution. The play premiered on Broadway at the Vanderbilt Theater, but it closed a week later, in Washington, D.C., after Thirl became seriously ill.

Ball later auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), but the role went to Vivien Leigh, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture. Ball signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1940s, but never gained much fame with that studio. In Hollywood circles she was known as the "Queen of Bollywood" (a title formerly held by Fay Wray), because of her frequent roles in B-movies such as The Five Who Came Back (1939). Like many aspiring actresses of the time, Ball chose radio to make more money and gain fame. In 1937 she appeared regularly on The Phil Baker Show.

After finishing her radio work in 1938, Ball joined the cast of The Wonder Show, starring Jack Haley (who was known for his role as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939)). That's where her 50-year professional relationship with the show's announcer, Gale Gordon, began. "The Amazing Show" lasted one season, with the last episode airing on April 7, 1939. MGM producer Arthur Freed acquired the Broadway musical "DuBarry Was a Lady" (1943) specifically for Ann Sothern, who was to play the title role, but when she turned it down, the dainty role was given to Lucille Ball, who was Sothern's best friend in life. In 1946 Lucy starred in "Come Back, My Love" and in 1947 she appeared in the crime thriller "Tempted" as Sandra Carpenter, a professional dance teacher in London.

"I Love Lucy" and Desi

In 1948 Ball played the role of Liz Cooper (originally "Coogat," but the last name was changed because listeners were constantly confusing the characters with the leader of the musical group Shavier Coogat), the wacky wife in the audio program My Favorite Husband, for CBS Radio.

The show was successful, and CBS asked her to develop a production for television. She agreed, but insisted that the male lead be played by her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz Orchestra leader Desi Arnaz of Cuba, but executives thought that audiences would be reluctant to accept the American favorite and the Cuban as a couple. The pilot episode, produced by Desilu Productions, did not impress CBS, and the pair went on tour with a vaudeville show where Lucy played a crazy housewife who wants to get on Arnaz's show. Given the enormous success of the tour, CBS accepted "I Love Lucy" into their airwaves.

The sitcom I Love Lucy was not only a stellar milestone for her, but also a potential salvation for her marriage to Arnaz. Their relationship became very strained, partly because of their busy performance schedules, which often kept them apart, but also because of Desi's attraction to other women.

Along the way, Ball created a television dynasty and was able to achieve her first serious results. She was the first woman to head the first television and production company, Desilu, which she co-founded with Arnas. After her divorce, she bought out his share and became an active leader of the studio. "Desilu" and "I Love Lucy" pioneered a number of techniques that are still used in broadcast production today, namely filming in front of a live audience in a studio, on multiple cameras and with different camera crews side by side. During this time, Ball taught acting at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. She always said: "You can't teach someone humor, it's either there or it's not there at all."

During the broadcast of I Love Lucy, Ball and Arnaz wanted to stay at their home in Los Angeles, but the time zone made it difficult. Since prime time on the East Coast was too late in the evening to broadcast a major network series, filming in California would have meant showing viewers a bad kinescope picture and, even more so, a day later.

The sponsor, Philip Morris, did not want one-day recordings of the broadcast in major East Coast markets, and at the same time did not want to pay for the extra costs that were required in filming, processing, and editing. Thus, the company pressured Ball and Arnas to move to New York. The pair offered to take a pay cut to finance filming on the condition that Desilu would retain the rights to each episode after it aired. "CBS" agreed to give up the rights after the first broadcast on "Desilu," not realizing that they were giving up a valuable and long-term asset. In 1957 CBS bought the rights for $1 million ($8.92 million at today's exchange rate), giving Ball and Arnaz a down payment on the purchase of the former RKO Pictures studio, which they turned into Desilu.

"I Love Lucy" dominated the U.S. ratings for most of its run on television. An attempt was made with the same actors and writers to adapt the show for radio. The pilot episode was an adaptation of the famous episode "Breaking the Lease," in which the Ricardo and Mertz families quarrel, the Ricardos want to move out and the Mertzes refuse to terminate their lease. The final radio audition tape was preserved but never aired.

The scene in which Lucy and Ricky practice the tango in the episode "Lucy Does The Tango" caused the longest recorded studio laughs in the show's history - so long that the sound engineer had to cut most of half the soundtrack. During the show's hiatus, Lucy and Desi appeared together in two feature films, The Long, Long Trailer (1954) and Forever Dear (1956). After the I Love Lucy series closed in 1957, the main cast continued to appear in episodes of a special comedy called The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour until 1960.

Desilu produced several other popular series, including The Untouchables, Star Trek, and Mission Impossible. The studio was eventually sold in 1967 for $17 million ($128 million at today's rate), and merged with Paramount Pictures.

Activities 1960-1977

The Broadway musical, Wildcat (1960), closed very early when Ball became ill and was unable to continue performing. The show was the source of the famous song "Hey, Look Me Over", which she sang with Paula Stewart on The Ed Sullivan Show. Ball also hosted a CBS Radio talk show, Let's Talk to Lucy, from 1964-65. She appeared in several films, including Yours, Mine and Ours (1968), and appeared in the musical Mame (1974). There were also two more successful sitcoms for CBS, "The Lucy Show" (1962-1968), starring Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon, and "Here's Lucy" (1968-1974), in which Gordon also appeared, and Lucy's children, Deci Arnaz Jr. and Lucy Arnaz.In 1974 she appeared on The Dick Cavitt Show, where she told her story and about her life with Arnaz.

Among Ball's close friends were longtime film colleague Vivian Vance and movie stars Judy Garland, Ann Sothern and Ginger Rogers, as well as television comedians Jack Benny, Barbara Pepper, Mary Weeks and Mary Jane Croft. All but Garland have appeared at least once in her various shows. Former Broadway colleagues Keith Endes and Paula Stewart also appeared in her later sitcoms, as did Joan Blondell, Rich Little and Ann-Margret. Ball was mentored by actress and singer Carole Cook, and befriended Barbara Eden when she appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy.

In 1966, Ball became a friend and mentor to Carol Burnett. She was a guest star on the CBS-TV special "Carol + 2," in response to which the young performer appeared on "The Lucy Show." It was rumored that Ball had suggested that Burnett make her own sitcom, Here's Agnes, but it was actually an offer from CBS executives that they later declined. Instead, she decided to create her own show because of an agreement that was in her contract with the network. The two women remained friends until Ball's death in 1989. Ball sent flowers for her friend's birthday every year. When Burnett woke up in 1989, on her 56th birthday, she heard on the morning news of Lucille Ball's death. Later that day, flowers were brought to her house with a note that read, "Happy Birthday, baby. 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. But the film's director and producer, John Frankenheimer, who had worked with Angela Lansbury in Everything Crumbles, insisted that she play the role.

Ball hosted a number of comedy television programs until about 1980, including Lucy Calls the President, starring Vivian Vance, Gail Gordon, Mary Jane Croft and Lucy Chevels, and Lucy Moves to NBC, which told her fictional story of moving to the NBC network.


In the mid-1980s, Ball tried to revive her television career. In 1982, she appeared in a retrospective of Three's Company, consisting of two spin-offs, where the first spin-off featured musical numbers interwoven with storylines over five seasons and commented on her love of the show.

A dramatic film about an elderly homeless woman, "Stone Pillow," made for television in 1985, received mixed reviews. Her return to comedy came in 1986 in the series "Life with Lucy," starring her longtime colleague Gale Gordon, co-producer Ball Gary Morton

In May 1988, Ball was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. Her last public appearance was a month before her death, at the Academy Awards on March 29, 1989, in which she and her co-host Bob Hope broke the ovation.

When Ball registered to vote in 1936, she stated her party affiliation as Communist. (In 1938 she also declared herself a Communist.)

To support the Communist Party candidacy in 1936 in California's 57th District, Ball signed a certificate stating, "I am registered as a member of the Communist Party." That same year she was appointed to the State Central Committee of the Communist Party in California, according to California Secretary of State records. In 1937, Hollywood writer Rena Vail (English) (Russian, stated to be a former Communist, attended a meeting of new Communist Party members at the Ball House, according to Vail's testimony before the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee, July 22, 1940. Two years later, Vail corroborated her affidavit:

Within days of my third application to join the Communist Party, I received an invitation to attend a meeting on North Ogden Drive in Hollywood. Although it was a typed and unsigned note, with a simple request for my attendance at an address at 8 p.m. on a certain day, I understood that it was a welcome invitation to attend a meeting of new Communist Party members... Arriving at the address in question, I met several other invitees. An elderly man informed us that we were guests of the film actress Lucille Ball, he showed us various photographs, books and other items to confirm this fact, and also stated that she was happy to lend her home for the new Communist Party members meeting. - Affidavit of Rena M. Vail, November 23, 1942. Joint fact-finding committee on anti-American activities in Califonia.

At the 1944 British Pate Film Festival, entitled Fund Raising for Roosevelt, Ball was named among several stage and movie stars at events in support of Franklin Roosevelt's fundraising campaign at the March of Dimes. She stated that she voted for Republican Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election.

On September 4, 1953, Ball met privately with NUAC investigator William Wheeler, and gave him a closed statement. She stated that she had registered to vote as a Communist or "intended to vote for the Communist Party ballot" in 1936 at the urging of her Socialist grandfather. Adding that she "never intended to vote as a Communist."

Ball stated that she had never been a member of the Communist Party "to the best of her knowledge" ... did not know whether any meetings had ever been held, and any meetings were held at her home at 1344 North Ogden Drive. Declared ... a delegate to the State Central Committee of the Communist Party of California in 1936, then this was done without her knowledge or consent. did not recall signing a document sponsoring Emil Fried to run for the Communist Party, for the District 57 Assembly... Review of this subject does not reflect actions that would warrant her inclusion in the security index.

Just before filming the 68th episode of I Love Lucy, The Girls Go Into Business, Desi Arnaz, instead of the usual audience warm-up, told the audience about Lucy and her grandfather. Reiterating a line he first uttered in an interview with Hedda Hopper, "The only red thing about Lucy is her hair, and even those are dyed!"

Marriage, Children and Divorce

In 1940, Ball met Cuban-born performer Desi Arnaz during a rehearsal of Rogers and Hart's Broadway play Too Many Girls. When they met again the next day, they became very close and ran off that same year. Lucille later reminiscing about that meeting said: "It wasn't love at first sight, it took a full five minutes." In 1942 Arnas was drafted into the army, but because of a knee injury was left in Los Angeles, where he gave music concerts for the wounded soldiers.

In 1944, Ball filed for divorce, and when they were officially divorced, she reconciled with her husband, which precluded the entry of a final decree.

On July 17, 1951, a month before her 40th birthday, Lucille gave birth to a daughter, Lucy Desiree Arnas, and before that she had three miscarriages in 1942, 1949, and 1950. 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 hit, so Ball and Aznaz incorporated the pregnancy into the series. (A necessary and scheduled C-section in real life was scheduled on the same date her character gave birth to her child.)

"CBS" made several demands, stating that a pregnant woman could not be shown on television and that the word "pregnant" could not be said on the air. After the approval of several religious figures, the network allowed pregnancy to be included in the storyline, but insisted that the word "pregnant" be replaced with "waiting. Arnas caused viewers to laugh when he purposely mispronounced the word "spectin" ("expecting" in English). However, two episodes used the word "pregnancy" in their titles: Lucy Is Enceinte (enceinte means "pregnancy" in French) and Pregnant Women Are Unpredictable, but that episode was never aired.

The episode of the baby's birth aired on the evening of January 19, 1953. As 44 million viewers watched Lucy Ricardo greet little Ricky, at the same time in real life Ball gave birth to Desi Arnaz, Jr. in Los Angeles. The birth served as the cover story for the first issue of the weekly TV Guide from April 3-9, 1953.

In October 1956, Ball, Arnaz, Vance and William Frawley appeared in a Bob Hope special on NBS, including a parody of the I Love Lucy series, the only time all four stars of the same show appeared together in a color television show. By the late 1950s Desilu had become a major company, putting serious pressure on Ball and Arnaz.

On March 3, 1960, the day after Desi's 43rd birthday (and one day after filming Lucy and Desi's last episode together), Ball filed papers in Santa Monica Superior Court, claiming that married life with Desi was a "nightmare," not at all like what was shown in "I Love Lucy."

On May 4, 1960, just two months after the filming of that episode (the last episode of Lucy-Desi's Comedy Hour), the couple divorced. However, until Arnaz's death in 1986, they remained friends and often spoke of each other fondly. Her actual divorce was indirectly reflected in her later series-she was always presented as an unmarried woman.

The following year Ball appeared in the Broadway musical Wildcat, which also featured Keith Endes and Paula Stewart. This began a 30-year friendship between Lucy and Paula, who introduced Lucy to her second husband, Gary Morton, a Borscht Belt comedian who was 13 years her junior. According to Ball, Morton claimed that he had never seen the show "I Love Lucy" because of his busy schedule. Ball immediately got Morton into her production company, training him in the television business and promoting him as a producer. Morton also played cameo roles in his wife's various TV series.

Ball was openly against her son's relationship with actress Patti Duke. Later, commenting on her son's relationship with Liza Minnelli, she said: "I miss Liza, but you can't tame Liza."

On April 18, 1989, while at her home in Beverly Hills, Ball complained of chest pains. An ambulance was called and she was taken to the emergency room at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was diagnosed with an aortic dissection and underwent heart surgery, which lasted eight hours, including a new aorta transplant. The surgery went well and Ball made a rapid recovery, even moving around the room unaided. She received a flurry of well wishes from Hollywood, and across the street from the Medical Center, a sign read "Hard Rock Loves Lucy" at the Hard Rock Café.

However, at dawn on April 26, Ball awoke with severe back pain and soon lost consciousness. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful, and her death was officially recorded at 5:47 a.m. Pacific time. An autopsy revealed that Ball had died of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, and that it was unrelated to her previous aneurysm and surgery last week. Smokers are known to have an increased risk of developing an abdominal aneurysm, and Ball had been an avid smoker most of her life. She was 77 years old.

Her body was cremated and her ashes buried at Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. In 2002 her children reburied her remains in the Hunt family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where her parents Henry and Desiree Ball and her grandparents were buried.


  1. Lucille Ball
  2. Болл, Люсиль
  3. ^ Damico, Amy M. (2022). "Chapter 4: Profiles; Section Lucille Ball (1911-1989)". Women in Media: A Reference Handbook. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9798216166740.
  4. 1 2 Lucille Desiree Ball // Internet Broadway Database (англ.) — 2000.
  5. a b Lucille Ball Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Viitattu 25.3.2024.
  6. «The 1 Major Difference Between What Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Wanted Out of Life». CheatSheet (em inglês). Consultado em 13 de dezembro de 2021

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