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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was born to Henry and Desiree Ball in Jamestown, New York on August 6, 1911. Her father contracted typhoid fever and died when she was three.

Ball recalls little from the day she lost her father, 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. She banned all pictures of birds from her house and any hotel room she was staying in.

One of her classmates at John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School in New York was Bette Davis.

In the late 1920s, Ball landed work as a model and later began her performing career on Broadway using the stage name Diane Belmont. Her career was thriving when she became ill in 1929 with rheumatoid arthritis and spent two years re-learning how to walk.

Lucille Ball first 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 and married in Greenwich, Connecticut on November 30, 1940. She was six years older than him. Lucille said "It wasn't love at first sight. It took a full five minutes."



Ball was a natural brunette. She first had her hair dyed the flaming red that would be her screen trademark in the 1943 film DuBarry Was a Lady. Red hair became popular once again in the 1950s partly because of the popularity of Lucy.

Ball in 1944

Lucy and Desi Arnaz began the television sitcom I Love Lucy in 1951 in the hopes of saving their crumbling marriage. The first episode aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) on October 15, 1951 New episodes were produced for six years, CBS re-ran episodes through 1961, and syndicated reruns still play every day somewhere.

After a few episodes of I Love Lucy were filmed, it became a rule that only Lucy could poke fun at Ricky's pronunciation problems.

Cast members from left, standing: William Frawley, Desi Arnaz, seated: Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball
71.7% of all television sets in the United States were tuned into I Love Lucy on January 19, 1953 to watch her give birth. The Lucy Goes to the Hospital episode had actually been filmed on November 14, 1952 and to increase the publicity of this episode, the original air date was chosen to coincide with Lucille Ball's real-life delivery of Desi, Jr. by Caesarean section.



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.

With I Love Lucy, Ball and Arnaz pioneered the 3-camera technique now the standard in filming TV sitcoms, and the concept of syndicating TV programs.

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball avoided using ethnic jokes, as well as humor based on physical handicaps or mental disabilities during the run of I Love Lucy due to a belief in "basic good taste."

Ball and Arnaz divorced on May 4, 1960. She said: "Desi was the great love of my life. I will miss him until the day I die. But I don't regret divorcing him. I just couldn't take it anymore."



Lucille Ball married stand-up comic Gary Morton at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City on November 19, 1962. He was 13 years younger than the comedienne.

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.

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.

Ball at her last public appearance at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989. Photo by Alan Light, Wikipedia Commons
Ball died at 05:47 PDT on April 26, 1989 of an aortic rupture in the abdominal area. Her body was cremated and the ashes were interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. In 2002, her children moved her remains to the family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where Ball's parents, brother, and grandparents are interred.

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