|Born||Frederick Henry Ball
July 17, 1915
Jamestown, New York, U.S.A
|Died||February 5, 2007
Cottonwood, Arizona, U.S.A
|Occupation||Actor, Movie studio executive, and Talent manager|
Fred Ball was born on July 17, 1915, to Henry Durrell Ball (September 25, 1887 – February 28, 1915) and Desirée "DeDe" Evelyn Hunt (September 21, 1892 – July 20, 1977) in Jamestown, New York, U.S.A. He was named after his grandfather. He grew up in a Baptist family; his father was of Scottish descent and related to the first President of the United States, George Washington (whose mother was Mary Ball). His mother was of French, Irish and English descent. His genealogy can be traced back to the earliest settlers in the colonies. One direct ancestor, William Sprague, left England on the ship Lyon's Whelp for Plymouth/Salem, Massachusetts. He helped found the city of Charlestown, Massachusetts.
His father was a telephone lineman for the Bell Telephone Company, and his mother was a concert pianist. His father contracted typhoid fever while DeDe Ball was pregnant with him, and died in February 1915. When Fred was a few years old, his mother met a Swedish Lutheran salesman named Edward (Ed) Peterson, and married him in 1918. His stepfather was a drinker with no real zeal for children, and wouldn't allow Fred or Lucy to call him "Daddy". The children were never close to their stepfather. Soon after the wedding, DeDe took off with Ed to Detroit, leaving Fred and Lucy with their grandparents, Flora Belle Orcutt and Frederick Charles Hunt, and didn't return until 1922 to help with her mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer. Their mother was hardly present, always following work to support the family, and eventually divorced her second husband. - - Fred and his sister were raised by their grandparents. Her grandfather was an eccentric socialist who enjoyed the theater and frequently took the family to vaudeville shows. He worked in the furniture industry. He often whittled toys and made doll furniture for his grandchildren. Mr. Hunt was actually thought of as his father, since his own father had died before he was born, and it was his grandfather who became a surrogate father to him through most of his childhood. Fred, Lucille, and their mother all lived together with the Hunts for a time in Celoron.
In 1927, a neighborhood child, Warner Erikson, was paralyzed by a shot accidentally fired from a gun Fred's grandfather had given him for his birthday. Erikson died five years later. The resultant publicity and lawsuit forced Mr. Hunt to sell his house and enter bankruptcy. He was even jailed for a time. After this incident (which was referred to in the family as "the break-up"), the family had to split and never lived together in one place again. His grandfather died in 1944.
He left Jamestown to join his sister in California in the 1930s, working as a page boy at Cafe Trocadero. He was Desi Arnaz's band road manager in the 1940s and 1950s and was on the Board of Directors of Desilu Productions (the studio that Desi and Lucy purchased in 1951 and that produced I Love Lucy, as well as Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and The Untouchables) until Arnaz fired him in a fit of anger after Fred expressed concern about Desi being able to run the company (this was after the Arnaz marriage had soured).
Fred did not have an acting career after managing administration at Desilu Productions but instead continued to manage restaurants and hotels such as the Palm Desert Hotel, as well as self-manage and maintain his own holdings in motels, and mobile home parks. He was a real estate agent and broker in Arizona. It should be noted that he, much like his sister Lucy, was a very astute business person who maintained his mental faculties and participated in life until his last days.
Fred Ball died of natural causes in Cottonwood, Arizona, on February 5, 2007, at the age of 91. He was cremated and buried in the Hunt family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where his parents, Henry and Desirée (Hunt) Ball, his sister, Lucille Ball, and his grandparents are buried. He was survived by his wife Zo, his four children, Pamela Ball Von Pinnon, Melissa LeBritton, April Jackson, and Geoffrey Ball as well as seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Fred's wife, Zo Ball, died on May 12, 2013, at the age of 93.
- Karol, Michael (2004). Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia. iUniverse. p. 45. ISBN 0-595-29761-7.
- Crocker, Kathleen; Currie, Jane (2004). Jamestown. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3515-X.
- Investigation of Communist Activities in the Los Angeles Area Statement of Fred H. Ball, September 4, 1953
- “Lucille Ball's Brother, Fred Has Died”