Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
Glamorous publicity shot of Lucille Ball from the waist up, dressed in a blue strapless gown and smiling.
Pin-up photo from Yank, the Army Weekly
Born Lucille Désirée Ball
August 6, 1911(1911-08-06)
Jamestown, New York, U.S.
Died April 26, 1989(1989-04-26) (aged 77)[1]
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death dissecting aortic aneurysm
Other names Lucille Ball Morton[2]
Occupation Actress, comedian, model, film executive
Years active 1932–86
Spouse Desi Arnaz (m. 1940–1960) «start: (1940)–end+1: (1961)»"Marriage: Desi Arnaz to Lucille Ball" Location: (linkback:// (divorced) 2 children
Gary Morton (m. 1961–1989) «start: (1961)–end+1: (1990)»"Marriage: Gary Morton to Lucille Ball" Location: (linkback:// (her death)

Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American comedian, film, television, stage and radio actress, model, film and television executive, and star of the sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy and Life With Lucy. One of the most popular and influential stars in the United States during her lifetime, with one of Hollywood's longest careers,[3] especially on television, Ball began acting in the 1930s, becoming both a radio actress and B-movie star in the 1940s, and then a television star during the 1950s. She was still making films in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1962, Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu; a studio that produced many successful and popular television series.[4]

Ball was nominated for an Emmy Award thirteen times, and won four times.[5] In 1977 Ball was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Award.[6] She was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986 and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989.[7]

In 1929, Ball landed work as a model and later began her performing career on Broadway using the stage name Dianne Belmont. She appeared in many small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures. Ball was labeled as the "Queen of the Bs" (referring to her many roles in B-films). In 1951, Ball was pivotal in the creation of the television series I Love Lucy. The show co-starred her then-husband, Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo, Vivian Vance as Ethel Mertz and William Frawley as Fred Mertz. The Mertzs were the Ricardos' landlords and friends. The show ended in 1957 after 180 episodes. Then, some minor adjustments were made to the program's format – the time of the show was lengthened from 30 minutes to 60 minutes (the first show lasted 75 mins), some new characters were added, the storyline was altered, and the show was renamed The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, which ran for three seasons (1957–1960) and 13 episodes. Ball went on to star in two more successful television series: The Lucy Show, which ran on CBS from 1962 to 1968 (156 Episodes), and Here's Lucy from 1968 to 1974 (144 episodes). Her last attempt at a television series was a 1986 show called Life with Lucy - which failed after 8 episodes aired, although 13 were produced.

Ball met and eloped with Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz in 1940. On July 17, 1951, at almost 40 years old, Ball gave birth to their first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz.[8] A year and a half later, Ball gave birth to their second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr.[9] Ball and Arnaz divorced on May 4, 1960.

On April 26, 1989, Ball died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm at age 77.[10] At the time of her death she was married to her second husband and business partner, standup comedian Gary Morton for more than twenty-seven years.[11]


Early life

Ball was born to Henry Durrell Ball (September 16, 1886 – February 19, 1915) and Desiree "DeeDee" Evelyn Hunt (September 21, 1892 – July 20, 1977) in Jamestown, New York. Although Lucy was born in Jamestown, New York, she told many people that she was born in Butte, Montana.[12] At age 3, her family moved to Anaconda, Montana and then to Wyandotte, Michigan.[13] Her family was Baptist; her father was of Scottish descent, and his mother was Mary Ball.[14] Her mother was of French, Irish and English descent.[15] Her genealogy can be traced back to the earliest settlers in the colonies.[16]

Her father, a telephone lineman for Anaconda Copper, was frequently transferred because of his occupation, and within three years of her birth, Lucille had moved many times, from Jamestown to Anaconda, and then to Trenton.[17] While DeeDee Ball was pregnant with her second child, Frederick, Henry Ball contracted typhoid fever and died in February 1915.[18] Ball recalls little from the day her father died, only fleeting memories of a picture falling and a bird getting trapped in the house. Ever since that day she had an intense bird phobia.[19][page needed]

After her father died, Ball and her brother Fred Henry Ball (July 17, 1915 - February 5, 2007) were raised by her mother and grandparents in Celoron, New York a summer resort village on Lake Chautauqua just west of Jamestown.[20] Her grandfather, Fred Hunt, was an eccentric who also enjoyed the theater. He frequently took the family to vaudeville shows and encouraged young Lucy to take part in both her own and school plays.[21]

Four years after the death of her father, Ball’s mother DeeDee remarried. While her step-father, Edward Peterson, and mother went to look for work in another city, Ball was left in the care of her step-father’s parents. Ball’s new guardians were a puritanical Swedish couple who were so opposed to frivolity that they banished all mirrors from the house except for one over the bathroom sink. When the young Ball was caught admiring herself in it she was severely chastised for being vain.[22] This period of time affected Ball so deeply that in later life she claimed that it lasted seven or eight years, but in reality, it was probably less than one.[23] One good thing did come out of DeeDee's new marriage. Edward was a Shriner. When his organization needed female entertainers for the chorus line of their next show, he encouraged his twelve-year-old stepdaughter to audition.[24] While Ball was onstage she began to realize that if one was seeking praise and recognition this was a brilliant way to receive it. Her appetite for recognition had thus been awakened at an early age.[25] In 1927 her family suffered misfortune when their house and furnishings were taken away in a legal judgement after a neighborhood boy was accidentally shot and paralyzed by someone target-shooting in their yard, under Ball's grandfather's supervision. The family then moved into a small apartment in Jamestown.[26]

Teenage years and early career

In 1925 Ball, then only 14, started dating Johnny DeVita, a local hood who was 21. DeeDee was unhappy with the relationship, but was unable to influence her daughter to end the relationship. She expected the romance to burn out in a few weeks but that didn't happen. After about a year, DeeDee tried to separate them by using Lucille's desire to be in show business. Despite the family's meager finances, she arranged for Lucille to go to the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City[27][28] where Bette Davis was a fellow student. Ball went home after the first semester when drama coaches told her that she "had no future at all as a performer.",[29][not in citation given] later saying about that time in her life "All I learned in drama school was how to be frightened."[30]

Ball was determined to prove her teachers wrong, and returned to New York City in 1928, among her other jobs she landed work as a fashion model for Hattie Carnegie.[31] Her career was thriving when she became ill, either with rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis or some other unknown illness and was unable to work for two years.[32] She moved back to New York City in 1932 to resume her pursuit of a career as an actress, and supported herself by again working for Carnegie[33] and as the Chesterfield cigarette girl. As Diane Belmont she started getting some chorus work on Broadway[34] but the work wasn't lasting. Ball was hired – but then quickly fired – by theatre impresario Earl Carroll from his Vanities, by Florenz Ziegfeld from a touring company of Rio Rita.[35] and was let go from the Shubert brothers production of Stepping Stones.[21]


After an uncredited stint as one of the Goldwyn Girls in Roman Scandals (1933) she permanently moved to Hollywood to appear in films. She appeared in 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 can also be seen as one of the featured models in the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Roberta (1935) and briefly as the flower girl in Top Hat (1935), as well as a brief supporting role at the beginning of Follow the Fleet (1936),[36] another Astaire-Rogers film. Ginger Rogers was a distant maternal cousin of Ball's. She and Rogers played aspiring actresses in the hit film Stage Door (1937) co-starring Katharine Hepburn. In 1936 she also 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 there were problems, 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, D.C. when Tearle suddenly became gravely ill.[37] Ball was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1940s, but she never achieved major stardom from her appearance in those films.[38]

A young Lucille Ball, in character, looking serious.
from the trailer for Stage Door (1937)

She was known in many Hollywood circles as "Queen of the B's" – a title previously held by Fay Wray – starring in a number of B-movies, such as 1939's Five Came Back. Like many budding starlets Ball picked up radio work to earn side income as well as gain exposure. In 1937 she appeared as a regular on The Phil Baker Show. When that completed its run in 1938, Ball joined the cast of The Wonder Show, starring future Wizard of Oz tin man Jack Haley. It was here that she began her fifty year professional relationship with Gale Gordon, who served as the show's announcer. The Wonder Show only lasted one season, with the final episode airing on April 7, 1939.[39]

In 1940, Ball met Cuban-born bandleader Desi Arnaz while filming the Rodgers and Hart stage hit Too Many Girls. At first, Arnaz was not fond of Lucy. When they met again later that day, the two connected immediately and eloped the same year. Arnaz was drafted to the United States 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. That same year, Ball appeared opposite Henry Fonda in The Big Street, in which she plays a paralyzed nightclub singer and Fonda portrays a busboy who idolizes her. The following year Ball appeared in DuBarry Was a Lady, a film for which the natural brunette first had her hair dyed the flaming red that would be her screen trademark.

Ball filed for a divorce in 1944. Shortly after Ball obtained an interlocutory decree of divorce, however, she reconciled with Arnaz.[40] Ball and Arnaz were only six years apart in age but apparently believed that it was less socially acceptable for an older woman to marry a younger man, and hence split the difference in their ages, both claiming a 1914 birth date until this was disproved.[41]

I Love Lucy and Desilu

A scene from "Lucy Goes to Scotland", 1956

In 1948, Ball was cast as Liz Cugat (later "Cooper"), a wacky wife, in My Favorite Husband, a radio program for CBS Radio. The program was successful, and CBS asked her to develop it for television. She agreed, but insisted on working with Arnaz. CBS executives were reluctant, thinking the public would not accept an All-American redhead and a Cuban as a couple. CBS was initially not impressed with the pilot episode produced by the couple's Desilu Productions company, so the couple toured the road in a vaudeville act with Lucy as the zany housewife wanting to get in Arnaz's show. The tour was a smash, and CBS put I Love Lucy on their lineup.[42] The I Love Lucy show was not only a star vehicle for Lucille Ball, but a way for her to try to salvage her marriage to Desi Arnaz, which had become badly strained, in part by the fact that each had a hectic performing schedule which often kept them apart.

Along the way, she created a television dynasty and reached several "firsts." Ball was the first woman in television to be head of a production company: Desilu, the company that she and Arnaz formed. After their divorce, Ball bought out Arnaz's share of the studio, and she proceeded to function as a very active studio head.[43] Desilu and I Love Lucy pioneered a number of methods still in use in television production today such as filming before a live studio audience with a number of cameras, and distinct sets adjacent to each other.[44] During this time Ball taught a thirty-two week comedy workshop at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. Ball was quoted as saying, "You cannot teach someone comedy; either they have it or they don't."[45]

When the show premiered, most shows were aired live from New York City studios to Eastern and Central Time Zone audiences, and captured by kinescope for broadcast later to the West Coast. The kinescope picture was inferior to film, and as a result the West Coast broadcasts were inferior to those seen elsewhere in the country. Ball and Arnaz wanted to remain in their Los Angeles home, but the time zone logistics made that broadcast norm impossible. Prime time in L.A. was too late at night on the East Coast to air a major network series, meaning the majority of the TV audience would be seeing not only the inferior picture of kinescopes but seeing them at least a day later.[46]

Sponsor Philip Morris did not want to show day-old kinescopes to the major markets on the East Coast, yet neither did they want to pay for the extra cost filming, processing and editing would require, pressuring Ball and Arnaz to relocate to New York City. Ball and Arnaz offered to take a pay cut to finance filming, on the condition that their company, Desilu, would retain the rights to that film once it was aired. CBS relinquished the show rights back to Desilu after initial broadcast, not realizing they were giving away a valuable and durable asset. Desilu made many millions of dollars on I Love Lucy rebroadcasts through syndication and became a textbook example of how a show can be profitable in second-run syndication. In television's infancy, the concept of the rerun hadn't yet formed, and many in the industry wondered who would want to see a program a second time.[47] In fact, while other celebrated shows of the period exist only in incomplete sets of kinescopes mostly too degraded to show to subsequent generations of television viewers, I Love Lucy has virtually never gone out of syndication since it began, seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world over the past half century. The success of Ball and Arnaz's gamble was instrumental in drawing television production from New York to Hollywood for the next several decades.[48]

Desilu hired legendary German cameraman Karl Freund as their director of photography. Freund had worked for F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, shot part of Metropolis (1927) as well as the original Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi, and had directed a number of Hollywood films himself, including The Mummy (1932) with Boris Karloff. Freund used a three-camera setup, which became the standard way of filming situation comedies.[49] Shooting long shots, medium shots, and close-ups on a comedy in front of a live audience demanded discipline, technique, and close choreography. Among other non-standard techniques used in filming the show, cans of paint (in shades ranging from white to medium gray) were kept on set to "paint out" inappropriate shadows and disguise lighting flaws.[44][50] Freund also pioneered "flat lighting," in which everything is brightly lit to eliminate shadows and the need for endless relighting.

I Love Lucy dominated the weekly TV ratings in the United States for most of its run. (There was an attempt to adapt the show for radio; the cast and writers adapted the memorable "Breaking the Lease" episode—in which the Ricardos and Mertzes fall out over an argument, the Ricardos threaten to move, but they're stuck in a firm lease—for a radio audition disc that never aired but has survived.)[51] In the scene where Lucy and Ricky are practicing the tango in the episode "Lucy Does The Tango," the longest recorded studio audience laugh in the history of the show was produced. It was so long, in fact, that the sound editor had to cut that particular part of the soundtrack in half.[52] The strenuous rehearsals and demands of Desilu studio kept the Arnazes too busy to comprehend the show's success. During the show's production breaks they starred together in feature films: Vincente Minnelli's The Long, Long Trailer (1954) and Alexander Hall's Forever, Darling (1956).

Desilu produced several other popular shows, most notably Our Miss Brooks (starring Ball's 1937 Stage Door co-star Eve Arden), The Untouchables, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible. Many other shows, particularly My Three Sons in its first seven of twelve seasons, Sheldon Leonard-produced series like Make Room for Daddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and I Spy, were filmed at Desilu Studios and bear its logo. Desilu was eventually sold and merged into Paramount Pictures in 1967.

Testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities

When Ball registered to vote in 1936, she listed her party affiliation as Communist.[53] (She was registered as a Communist in 1938 as well.)[54] In order 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."[55] 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 Committee on Un-American Activities, on July 22, 1940.[56] Two years later, Vale reaffirmed 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, Lucile 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...[57]

In a 1944 British Pathe newsreel, titled Fund Raising For Roosevelt, Ball was featured prominently among several stage and film stars at a fund-raising event in support of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign for re-election.[58] She also stated that in the 1952 US Presidential Election, she voted for Republican Dwight Eisenhower.[59]

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.[60] 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";... 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.[61]

J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the FBI, named "Lucy and Dezi" [sic] among his "favorites of the entertainment world."[62] Immediately before the filming of episode 68 ("The Girls Go Into Business") of I Love Lucy, Arnaz, instead of his usual audience warm-up, told the audience about Lucy and her grandfather. Arnaz quipped: "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that's not legitimate." Then, he presented his wife and she received a standing ovation from the audience.[21][63]

Children and divorce

Casual shot of Ball and Arnaz outside, sitting in director chairs. Ball is smiling slightly; Arnaz is looking the other way with his hand over his mouth.
Lucille Ball, with her husband Desi Arnaz in 1953.

On July 17, 1951, one month before her fortieth birthday and after three miscarriages (one in 1942, one in 1949, and another in 1950), Ball gave birth to her first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz.[8] A year and a half later, Ball gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr.[9] When 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 cesarean section in real life was scheduled for the same date that her television character gave birth.)[9] There were several challenges from 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[64] 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'").[65] The episode's official title was "Lucy Is Enceinte," borrowing the French word for pregnant;[17] however, episode titles never appeared on the show. The birth made the first cover of TV Guide in January 1953.[66]

Ball's business instincts were often astonishingly sharp, and her love for Arnaz was passionate, but her relationships with her children were sometimes strained. Lucie Arnaz, her daughter, spoke of her mother's "controlling" nature.[67] Ball was outspoken against the relationship that Desi Jr. had with Liza Minnelli. Talking about Liza Minelli dating her son, she was quoted as saying, "I miss Liza, but you cannot domesticate Liza."[68] Her close friends in the business included Ginger Rogers, Vivian Vance, Mary Wickes and Carole Cook.

In October 1956, Ball, Vivian Vance, Desi Arnaz, 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; his increased drinking further compounded matters.[69] On May 4, 1960, just two months after filming 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.[70] Her real-life divorce indirectly found its way into her later television series, as she was always cast as a single woman.[71][72]

The following year, Ball did a musical on Broadway, Wildcat, co-starring Paula Stewart. That marked the beginning of a thirty-year friendship between Lucy and Paula Stewart, who introduced her to second husband Gary Morton, a Borscht Belt stand-up comic who was thirteen years her junior.[11] According to Ball, Morton claimed he had never seen an episode of I Love Lucy due to his hectic work schedule.[73] Ball immediately installed Morton in her production company, teaching him the television business and eventually promoting him to producer. Morton also played occasional bit parts on Ball's various series.[74]

Later career

The 1960 Broadway musical Wildcat ended its run early when Ball became too ill to continue in the show.[75] 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. She 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 Vance and Gale Gordon, and Here's Lucy (1968–74), which also featured Gordon, as well Lucy's real life children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. Ball appeared on the Dick Cavett show in 1974 and spoke of her history and life with Arnaz. She revealed how she felt about other actors and actresses as well as her love for Arnaz. She continued by telling Cavett that the success to her life was, "getting rid of what was wrong and replacing it with what is right," talking about her divorce from Arnaz and marriage to Morton.

Ball also revealed in this interview that the strangest thing to ever happen to her was after she had some dental work completed and having lead fillings in her teeth, she started hearing radio stations in her head. She explained coming home one night from the studio and as she passed one area, she heard what she thought was morse code or a "tapping." She stated that "as I backed up it got stronger. The next morning, I reported it to the authorities and upon investigation, they found a Japanese radio transmitter that had been buried and was actively transmitting codes back to the Japanese."[76][77] The extraordinary theory that dental fillings could pick up radio signals would ultimately be tested and debunked on the TV show Mythbusters nearly thirty years later.

Ball was originally considered by Frank Sinatra for the role of Mrs. Iselin in 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.[78]

An aged Ball standing in a crowd of celebrities, wearing a black and gold sequinned dress with her characteristic red hair, looking fragile.
Ball at her last public appearance at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989 just four weeks before her death

During the mid-1980s, she attempted to resurrect her television career. In 1982, Ball 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.[79] 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 canceled less than two months into its run by ABC.[80] The failure of this series was said to have sent Ball into a serious depression, and other than a few miscellaneous awards show appearances, she was absent from the public eye for the last several years of her life. 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.


On April 18, 1989, Ball was at her home in Beverly Hills when she complained of chest pains. An ambulance was called and she was rushed to the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was diagnosed as having a dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours, receiving an aorta from a 27 year old male donor. The surgery was successful, and Ball began recovering, even walking around her room with little assistance. On April 26, shortly after dawn, Ball awoke with severe back pains. Her aorta had ruptured in a second location and Ball quickly lost consciousness. All attempts to revive her proved unsuccessful, and she died at approximately 05:47 PST. She was 77 years old. Her ashes were initially interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, but in 2002 her children moved her cremains to the family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where Ball's parents, brother, and grandparents are buried.[81]

Legacy and posthumous recognition

Ball's signature.

Ball received many prestigious awards throughout her career including some received posthumously such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush on July 6, 1989,[82] and The Women's International Center's Living Legacy Award.[83]

There is a Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center museum in Lucy's hometown of Jamestown, New York. The Little Theatre was renamed the Lucille Ball Little Theatre in her honor.[84] Ball was among Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the Century.[85]

On August 6, 2001, which would have been her ninetieth birthday, the United States Postal Service honored her with a commemorative postage stamp as part of its Legends of Hollywood series.[86] Ball appeared on the cover of TV Guide more than any other person; she appeared on thirty-nine covers, including the very first cover in 1953, with her baby son Desi Arnaz, Jr.[87] TV Guide voted Lucille Ball as the Greatest TV Star of All Time and later it commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of I Love Lucy with eight collector covers celebrating memorable scenes from the show and in another instance they named I Love Lucy the second best television program in American history, after Seinfeld.[88] Because of her liberated mindset and approval of the women's movement, Ball was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[89]

She was awarded the Legacy of Laughter award at the fifth Annual TV Land Awards in 2007,[90] and I Love Lucy was named the Greatest TV Series by Hall of Fame Magazine.[32] In November of that year, Lucille Ball was chosen as the second out of the 50 Greatest TV Icons, after Johnny Carson. In a poll done by the public, however, they chose her as the greatest icon.[91]

On August 6, 2011, which would have been her hundredth birthday, Google honored Ball with an interactive doodle on their homepage. This doodle displayed six classic moments from the I Love Lucy sitcom.[92] On the same day a total of 915 Ball look-alikes converged on Jamestown, New York to celebrate the birthday and set a new world record for such a gathering.[93]

On February 8, 1960, she 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.[94]

Filmography and television work


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  31. ^ Kanfer 2003, p. 30.
  32. ^ a b "Lucille Ball Biography, Bio, Profile, pictures, photos". Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Ball stricken with arthritis" 
  33. ^ Brady 2001, p. 33.
  34. ^ Kanfer 2003, p. 28.
  35. ^ "Lucille Ball at". Retrieved 2008-04-02. "Lucille Ball's stage name" 
  36. ^ "Lucille Ball". Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Ball and Rogers are lifelong friends" 
  37. ^ Brady 2001, p. 73–74.
  38. ^ Crouse, Richard J. (2003). The 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 196. ISBN 1550225901. ""Stage Door" gives Ball her big break" 
  39. ^ ""The Wonder Show" - 1938 Radio Series – Starring Jack Haley, with Lucille Ball & Gale Gordon". The Wonder Show. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "Lucy and The Wonder Show" 
  40. ^ "Lucille Ball biography". Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Ball and Arnaz patch things up before divorce became final" 
  41. ^ "Lucille Ball: Biography and Much More from". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-04-02. "Discrepancy in birthdates" 
  42. ^ "Sotomayor: More 'Splainin' to Do". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-06-18. "CBS executives originally did not want Ball, a sassy redhead, married to a Latino on the program" 
  43. ^ "American Masters "Lucille Ball: Finding Lucy"". PBS. Retrieved 2008-04-02. "Ball first woman to head a major studio" 
  44. ^ a b "Desi Arnaz". Clown Ministry. Retrieved 2008-04-02. "Arnaz revolutionizes television" 
  45. ^ Karol 2004, p. 201.
  46. ^ Gehring, Wes (2001). ""I Love Lucy" Turns 50 - Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, background info on influential, groundbreaking TV comedy". USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education). Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Arnaz did not want kinescope" 
  47. ^ "Sitcoms Online – I Love Lucy". Retrieved 2008-04-05. "I Love Lucy was the first show to introduce reruns" 
  48. ^ "Stars of the living room". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-06-06.,0,5824081.htmlstory. Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Arnaz and Ball bring tv show to Los Angeles" 
  49. ^ Adir, Karin (2001). The Great Clowns of American Television (McFarland Classics). Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Company. pp. 4–10. ISBN 0-7864-1303-4. 
  50. ^ Sanders & Gilbert 2001, pp. 72–81.
  51. ^ [1](mp3) -
  52. ^ Hofstede, David (2006). 5000 Episodes and No Commercials: The Ultimate Guide to TV Shows on DVD 2007. New York: Back Stage Books. pp. 149. ISBN 0-8230-8456-6. "Longest laugh in television history" 
  53. ^ Index to Register of Voters, Los Angeles City Precinct No. 1598, Los Angeles County, California, 1936
  54. ^ Suzann Campbell, "New California Voter Registrations Reveal Celebrity Party Lines," Blog, January 30, 2008
  55. ^ Testimony of Lucille Désirée Ball Arnaz, September 4, 1953, Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 83d Cong., 1st sess., Investigation of Communist Activities in the Los Angeles Area – Part 7, September 4, 1953 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1953), p. 2567 (PDF p. 14)
  56. ^ FBI file, pp. 10–13: FBI memorandum: D.M. Ladd to Hoover, Subject: Lucille Ball, Dezi [sic] Arnaz, September 17, 1953.
  57. ^ Affidavit of Rena M. Vale, November 23, 1942. Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California, Report: Un-American Activities in California (Sacramento: California State Printing Office, 1943), pp. 127-128
  58. ^ Fundraising for Roosevelt (video newsreel film). Washington, DC: British Pathé. Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  59. ^ "Ball, Lucille". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  60. ^ Ball explained, "In those days that was not a big, terrible thing to do. It was almost as terrible to be a Republican in those days." Testimony of Lucille Désirée Ball Arnaz, September 4, 1953, Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 83d Cong., 1st sess., Investigation of Communist Activities in the Los Angeles Area – Part 7, September 4, 1953 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1953), p. 2571 (PDF p. 18)
  61. ^ FBI file, p. 24: FBI memorandum: SAC Los Angeles to Hoover, Subject: Lucille Ball, was., December 16, 1953. Cf. Sanders & Gilbert 2001, pp. 77–78.
  62. ^ FBI file, p. 32: copy of: Flaherty, Vincent X. (October 23, 1956). "Hoover Hits Crime Trends in Movies". Los Angeles Examiner. 
  63. ^ Leibman, Nina. "Ball, Lucille". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  64. ^ "Radio: Birth of a Memo". Time. 26 January 1953.,9171,817789,00.html. Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  65. ^ "Celebrity Commercials in TV's Golden Age". Retrieved 2008-04-05. "The word "pregnant" replaces with "expecting"" 
  66. ^ "Biography of Lucille Ball, famous TV clown". Clown Ministries. Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Ball makes cover of TV Guide with pregnancy episode" 
  67. ^ "Lucille Ball's grave". Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Lucy Jr. speaks of her mothers controlling nature" 
  68. ^ Kanfer 2003, pp. 35–37.
  69. ^ "Desi Arnaz History". Desi History. Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Arnaz' drinking problem" 
  70. ^ "Lucille Ball's Biography". Library.Thinkquest. Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Ball and Arnaz remain friends after their divorce" 
  71. ^ "Powell's Books – Review-a-Day – Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball by Stefan Kanfer". The New Republic Online. Retrieved 2008-04-05. "Ball's real life divorce makes it into her new shows as showing her as a single woman" 
  72. ^ Kanfer 2003, pp. 72–84. "Ball and Arnaz remain friends".
  73. ^ Kanfer 2003, p. 94.
  74. ^ Kanfer 2003, p. 103.
  75. ^ Kanfer 2003, p. 220.
  76. ^ Karol 2004, p. 164.
  77. ^ "Brace Yourself". 5 August 2007. Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  78. ^ Frankenheimer's DVD audio commentary
  79. ^ "TV Land March 2007 --To Be Continued Free Fridays; Three's Company 30th Anniversary – Sitcoms Online Message Boards". TV Land. Retrieved 2008-04-06. "Ball hosts Three's Company reflective" 
  80. ^ "Life With Lucy". TV Party. Retrieved 2008-04-06. ""Life With Lucy" turns out to be a flop" 
  81. ^ Ball, Lucille. "Lucille Ball's Gravesite". Lucille Ball's Gravesite. The Lucy-Desi Center. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  82. ^ "NATION : Lucille Ball Gets Medal of Freedom". Los Angeles Times. 1989-07-06. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  83. ^ "Welcome to Women's International Center". Women's International Center. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "Living Legacy Award" 
  84. ^ "The Lucille Ball Little Theater of Jamestown, Inc.". Designsmiths. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "Renaming of the "Little Theater" in Jamestown, New York" 
  85. ^ "TIME Magazine: TIME 100 - People of the Century". Time. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "Ball named one of Times 100 People of the Century" 
  86. ^ "USPS – Stamp Release No. 01-057 - Legendary Hollywood Star Lucille Ball Honored on U.S. Postage Stamp". US Post Office. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "Ball honored on a Postage Stamp" 
  87. ^ "Lucille Ball — Photos, Bio and News for Lucille Ball". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "Lucy appears on thirty-nine covers of TV guide" 
  88. ^ "TiVo Community Forums Archives – TV Guide's 50 Best Shows of All Time". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "TV Guide's second greatest or most influential show of all time" 
  89. ^ "National Women's Hall of Fame". Great Women Organization. Retrieved 2008-04-09. "Ball inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame" 
  90. ^ "TV Land loves Lucy". Los Angeles Times. April 15, 2007.,0,2045170.story?coll=env-tv. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  91. ^ Associated Press (November 16, 2007). "Carson tops list of 50 greatest TV icons". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  92. ^ Nancy Blair (August 6, 2011). "Google Doodle pays charming tribute to Lucille Ball on her 100th". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  93. ^ "915 Lucille Ball look-alikes set record" at
  94. ^ "Walk of Fame: Lucille Ball". 
Citations – books
  • Ball, Lucille (1996). Hoffman, Betty Hannah. ed. Love, Lucy. New York: Putnam. ISBN 978-0399142055. OCLC 231698725. This autobiography covers Ball's life up to 1964. It was discovered by her children in 1989 ("Love, Lucy". WorldCat. Retrieved 2011-11-19. ) 
    • Ball, Lucille (1997). Hoffman, Betty Hannah. ed. Love, Lucy. New York: Berkly. ISBN 978-0425177310. OCLC 52255505. 
  • Brady, Kathleen (2001). Lucille: the life of Lucille Ball. New York: Billboard Books. p. 20. ISBN 0-8230-8913-4. 
  • Sanders, Coyne Steven; Gilbert, Thomas W. (2001). Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. New York: HarperEntertainment. ISBN 0-688-13514-5. OCLC 48543617. 
  • Harris, Warren C (1991). Lucy and Desi: the legendary love story of television’s most famous couple. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0671747091. 
  • Kanfer, Stefan (2003). Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41315-4. 
  • Karol, Michael A. (2004). The Lucille Ball Quiz Book. United States: iUniverse. ISBN 978-0595318575. 
Web pages

Further reading

  • Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America's Favorite Redhead by James Sheridan and Barry Monush (2011) ISBN 978-1617740824
  • The Comic DNA of Lucille Ball: Interpreting the Icon by Michael Karol (2005) ISBN 0-595-37951-6
  • Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia by Michael Karol (2004) ISBN 0-595-29761-7
  • Lucy in Print by Michael Karol (2003) ISBN 0-595-29321-2
  • Laughing With Lucy: My Life With America's Leading Lady of Comedy by Madelyn Pugh Davis with Bob Carroll Jr. (2005) ISBN 978-1-57860-247-6
  • I Love Lucy: The Complete Picture History of the Most Popular TV Show Ever by Michael McClay (1995) ISBN 0-446-51750-X (hardcover)

External links

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