Ball in 1950
|Born||Lucille Désirée Ball
August 6, 1911
Jamestown, New York, US
|Died||April 26, 1989
Los Angeles, California, US
Cause of death
|Dissecting aortic aneurysm|
|Other names||Lucille Ball Morton
Lucille Ball Arnaz
|Occupation||Actress, comedian, model, film executive|
(m.1961–1989; her death)
Desi Arnaz Jr.
Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American comedienne, model, film and television actress and studio executive. She was star of the sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy and Life with Lucy, and was one of the most popular and influential stars in the United States during her lifetime. Ball had one of Hollywood's longest careers. In the 1930s and 1940s she started as an RKO girl, playing bit parts as a chorus girl or similar roles and becoming a television star during the 1950s. She continued making films in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1962, Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu, which produced many successful and popular television series such as "Mission Impossible" and "Star Trek".
Ball was nominated for an Emmy Award thirteen times, and won four times. In 1977, Ball was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Award. 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.
In 1929, Ball landed work as a model and later began her performing career on Broadway using the stage name "Diane Belmont". She assumed many small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures. Ball was dubbed the "Queen of the Bs" (referring to her many roles in B-films). In 1951, Ball was instrumental 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 Mertzes were the Ricardos' landlords and friends. The show ended in 1957 after 180 episodes. The cast remained intact (with some additional cast members added) for a series of one-hour specials from 1957 to 1960 as part of The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. Its original network title was The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the first season, and The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Presents The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the following seasons. Later reruns were titled the more familiar Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, which was a perennial summer favorite on CBS through 1967. The specials emphasized guest stars such as Ann Sothern, Rudy Vallee, Tallulah Bankhead, Fred MacMurray and June Haver, Betty Grable and Harry James, Fernando Lamas, Maurice Chevalier, Danny Thomas and his Make Room for Daddy co-stars, Red Skelton, Paul Douglas, Ida Lupino and Howard Duff, Milton Berle, Robert Cummings, and, in the final episode, "Lucy Meets the Moustache", Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams. 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 eight 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 of age, Ball gave birth to their first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz. A year and a half later, Ball gave birth to their second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr. Ball and Arnaz divorced on May 4, 1960.
On April 26, 1989, Ball died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm at age 77. At the time of her death, she had been married to her second husband and business partner, standup comedian Gary Morton, for more than 27 years.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Teenage years and early career
- 3 Hollywood
- 4 Desi Arnaz
- 5 I Love Lucy and Desilu
- 6 Testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities
- 7 Children and divorce
- 8 Later career
- 9 Death
- 10 Legacy and posthumous recognition
- 11 Filmography and television work
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Ball was born to Henry Durrell Ball (September 16, 1887 – April 26, 1915) and Desiree "DeDe" Evelyn Hunt (September 21, 1892 – July 20, 1977) in Jamestown, New York. Although Lucy was born in Jamestown, New York, she sometimes claimed that she was born in Butte, Montana. A number of magazines reported inaccurately that she had decided that Montana was a more romantic place to be born than New York State, and thus created a fantasy of a “Western childhood”. At age three, shortly before her father's death, her family moved to Anaconda, Montana, where her father died, and then to Wyandotte, Michigan. Her family was Baptist, and her ancestry included Scottish, French, Irish, and English. Some of her genealogy leads to the earliest settlers in the colonies, including Edmund Rice, an early immigrant to Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Her father, a telephone lineman for Bell Telephone Company 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. While DeDe Ball was pregnant with her second child, Frederick, Henry Ball contracted typhoid fever and died in February 1915. Ball recalled little from the day her father died, only fleeting memories of a picture falling and a bird getting trapped in the house. From that day forward, she suffered from ornithophobia.
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. The most important influence on Lucy’s early years was Celoron Park, one of the best amusement areas in the United States at that time. Its boardwalk, with a ramp going down into the lake as a children’s slide, the Pier Ballroom, roller-coaster, bandstand, and a stage where vaudeville, concerts, and regular theatrical shows were presented, made Celoron Park an entertainment destination. 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. Four years after the death of her father, Ball’s mother DeDe 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 stepfather’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. 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. Edward Peterson 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. 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. In 1927 her family suffered misfortune when their house and furnishings were taken away in a legal judgment 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.
Teenage years and early career
In 1925 Ball, then only 14, started dating Johnny DeVita, a 23-year-old local hood. DeDe was unhappy with the relationship, but was unable to influence her daughter to end it. She expected the romance to burn out in a few weeks, but that did not happen. After about a year, DeDe 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 where Bette Davis was a fellow student. Ball later said about that time in her life, "All I learned in drama school was how to be frightened."
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. 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. 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 and as the Chesterfield cigarette girl. Using the name "Diane Belmont", she started getting some chorus work on Broadway but the work was not 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, and was let go from the Shubert brothers production of Stepping Stones.
After an uncredited stint as one of the Goldwyn Girls in Roman Scandals (1933) she moved permanently 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), briefly as the flower girl in Top Hat (1935), as well as in a brief supporting role at the beginning of Follow the Fleet (1936), 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. Ball was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1940s, but she never achieved major stardom from her appearance in those films.
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 regularly 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 show announcer. The Wonder Show lasted one season, with the final episode airing on April 7, 1939. MGM producer Arthur Freed purchased the Broadway hit musical play DuBarry Was a Lady (1943) especially for Ann Sothern, but when Ann turned down the part the choice role was awarded to Miss Ball, who in real life was best friend to Miss Sothern. In 1946, Ball starred in Lover Come Back, and in 1948, made an uncredited appearance as Sally Elliot in The Fuller Brush Man.
In 1940, Ball met Cuban-born bandleader Desi Arnaz while filming the Rodgers and Hart stage hit Too Many Girls. When they met again on the second day, the two connected immediately and eloped the same year. Although Arnaz was drafted into the 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 become her screen trademark.
Ball originally filed for divorce from Desi in 1944, even going so far as obtaining an interlocutory decree; however, she soon reconciled with Arnaz and stopped the proceedings. Even though the couple were only six years apart in age, many 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 some years later.
I Love Lucy and Desilu
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. 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 both having hectic performing schedules 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. 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. 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."
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.
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 that 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 had not yet formed, and many in the industry wondered who would want to see a program a second time. 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.
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. Shooting long shots, medium shots, and closeups 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. 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.) 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. 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. (She was registered as a Communist in 1938 as well.) 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." 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. 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, Lucille 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
In a 1944 British Pathé 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. She also stated that in the 1952 US Presidential Election, she voted for Republican Dwight Eisenhower.
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. 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" ... [She] 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.
J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the FBI, named "Lucy and Dezi" [sic] among his "favorites of the entertainment world." 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. Reusing the line he had first given to Hedda Hopper in an interview, he quipped: "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate."
Children and divorce
On July 17, 1951, one month before her 40th birthday, Ball gave birth to her first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz. A year and a half later, Ball gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr. 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 caesarean section in real life was scheduled for the same date that her television character gave birth.) 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 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'"). The episode's official title was "Lucy Is Enceinte," borrowing the French word for pregnant; however, episode titles never appeared on the show. The country was in an uproar over Lucy’s approaching delivery through the winter of 1952. Even President Eisenhower’s winning of the electoral race in 1952 had to battle for media time against Lucy’s special event. On January 14, 1953, reports flew around that baby Ricardo would be born on the following Monday’s show. Thousands called the studio and the Hollywood Press Office, demanding to know the details. January 19 would be a date to be remembered in the records of television history. Eisenhower’s swearing-in ceremony had an audience of 29 million people, while 44 million watched Lucy Ricardo welcome little Ricky. The birth made the first cover of TV Guide in January 1953.
Ball was outspoken against the relationship that Desi Jr. had with Liza Minnelli. Talking about Liza Minnelli dating her son, she was quoted as saying, "I miss Liza, but you cannot domesticate Liza." Her various close friends in the business included Ginger Rogers, Vivian Vance, Mary Wickes, Mary Jane Croft, and Carole Cook; who all appeared at least once on her various series.
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. On May 4, 1960, just two months after filming the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, the couple divorced. On March 3, 1960, a day after Desi's forty-third birthday, Lucy filed papers in Santa Monica Superior Court, claiming married life to Desi was "a nightmare" and nothing at all like it appeared on I Love Lucy. Until his death in 1986, however, Arnaz and Ball remained friends and often spoke very fondly of each other. Her real-life divorce indirectly found its way into her later television series, as she was always cast as an unmarried woman.
The following year, Ball performed a musical on Broadway, Wildcat, costarring Paula Stewart. That marked the beginning of a thirty-year friendship between Lucy and Stewart, who introduced Lucy to second husband Gary Morton, a Borscht Belt stand-up comic who was thirteen years her junior. According to Ball, Morton claimed he had never seen an episode of I Love Lucy due to his hectic work schedule. 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.
The 1960 Broadway musical Wildcat ended its run early when Ball became too ill to continue in the show. 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.
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 put in her teeth, she started hearing radio stations in her head. She explained that 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."
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.
During the mid-1980s, Ball attempted to resurrect her television career. In 1982 she 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. 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. 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.
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 with dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours, receiving an aorta from a 27-year-old man who had died in a motorcycle accident. The surgery was successful, and Ball began recovering very quickly, even walking around her room with little assistance. She received a flurry of get-well wishes from Hollywood, and across the street from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Hard Rock Café erected a sign reading "Hard Rock Loves Lucy". On April 26, shortly after dawn, Ball awoke with severe back pains and soon lost consciousness. All attempts to revive her proved unsuccessful, and she died at approximately 05:47 PDT. Doctors determined that the 77-year-old comedian had succumbed to a second aortic rupture, this time in the abdominal area, and that it was unrelated to her surgery the previous week. Her cremated 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 parents, brother, and grandparents are buried.
Legacy and posthumous recognition
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, and The Women's International Center's Living Legacy Award.
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. Ball was among Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the Century.
On August 6, 2001, which would have been her 90th birthday, the United States Postal Service honored her with a commemorative postage stamp as part of its Legends of Hollywood series. 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. 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. Because of her liberated mindset and approval of the Women's Movement, Ball was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2001.
She was awarded the Legacy of Laughter award at the fifth Annual TV Land Awards in 2007, I Love Lucy was named the Greatest TV Series by Hall of Fame Magazine, and TV Guide voted her greatest TV star of all time 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.
On August 6, 2011, which would have been her 100th birthday, Google honored Ball with an interactive doodle on their homepage. This doodle displayed six classic moments from the I Love Lucy sitcom. 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.
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.
Filmography and television work
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- Kanfer 2003, p. 28.
- "Lucille Ball at Hollywood.com". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2008. "Lucille Ball's stage name"
- "Lucille Ball". Everything2.com. Retrieved April 5, 2008. "Ball and Rogers are lifelong friends"
- Brady, Kathleen (2001). Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-8230-8913-0. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- Brady 2001, p. 73–74.
- Crouse, Richard J. (2003). The 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen. Toronto: ECW Press. p. 196. ISBN 1-55022-590-1. ""Stage Door" gives Ball her big break"
- ""The Wonder Show" – 1938 Radio Series – Starring Jack Haley, with Lucille Ball & Gale Gordon". The Wonder Show. Retrieved April 9, 2008. "Lucy and The Wonder Show"
- "Lucille Ball biography". Essortment.com. Retrieved April 5, 2008. "Ball and Arnaz patch things up before divorce became final"
- Silver, Allison (July 16, 2009). "Sotomayor: More 'Splainin' to Do". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 18, 2010. "CBS executives originally did not want Ball, a sassy redhead, married to a Latino on the program"
- "American Masters "Lucille Ball: Finding Lucy"". PBS. Retrieved April 2, 2008. "Ball first woman to head a major studio"
- "Desi Arnaz". Clown Ministry. Archived from the original on September 25, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2008. "Arnaz revolutionizes television"
- Karol 2004, p. 201.
- 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 April 5, 2008. "Arnaz did not want kinescope"
- "Sitcoms Online – I Love Lucy". sitcomsonline.com. Retrieved April 5, 2008. "I Love Lucy was the first show to introduce reruns"
- "Stars of the living room". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008. "Arnaz and Ball bring tv show to Los Angeles"
- Adir, Karin (2001). The Great Clowns of American Television (McFarland Classics). Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Company. pp. 4–10. ISBN 0-7864-1303-4.
- Sanders & Gilbert 2001, pp. 72–81.
- (mp3) – archive.org
- Hofstede, David (2006). 5000 Episodes and No Commercials: The Ultimate Guide to TV Shows on DVD 2007. New York: Back Stage Books. p. 149. ISBN 0-8230-8456-6. "Longest laugh in television history"
- "Index to Register of Voters". Ancestry.com Blog. 1936. Retrieved March 14, 2012. Copy of document from Los Angeles City Precinct No. 1598, Los Angeles County, CA
- Ancestry.com (January 30, 2008). "New California Voter Registrations Reveal Celebrity Party Lines". Ancestry.com Blog. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- 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)
- FBI file, pp. 10–13: FBI memorandum: D.M. Ladd to Hoover, Subject: Lucille Ball, Dezi [sic] Arnaz, September 17, 1953.
- 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
- Fundraising for Roosevelt (video newsreel film). Washington, DC: British Pathé. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- "Ball, Lucille". FunTrivia.com. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- 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)
- 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.
- FBI file, p. 32: copy of: Flaherty, Vincent X. (October 23, 1956). "Hoover Hits Crime Trends in Movies". Los Angeles Examiner.
- Brioux, Bill (2007). Truth and Rumors: The Reality Behind Tv's Most Famous Myths. Greenwood Publishing Company. p. 37. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
- "Radio: Birth of a Memo". Time. January 26, 1953. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- "Celebrity Commercials in TV's Golden Age". Teletronic. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- "Biography of Lucille Ball, famous TV clown". Clown Ministry. Archived from the original on June 2, 2006. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- Kanfer 2003, pp. 35–37.
- Andrews, Bart` (1976). Lucy and Ricky and Fred and Ethel. Toronto and Vancouver: Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited. p. 166.
- "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 April 5, 2008. "Ball's real life divorce makes it into her new shows as showing her as a single woman"
- Kanfer 2003, pp. 72–84. "Ball and Arnaz remain friends".
- Kanfer 2003, p. 94.
- Kanfer 2003, p. 103.
- Kanfer 2003, p. 220.
- Karol 2004, p. 164.
- "Brace Yourself". snopes.com. August 5, 2007. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- Frankenheimer's DVD audio commentary
- "TV Land March 2007 --To Be Continued Free Fridays; Three's Company 30th Anniversary – Sitcoms Online Message Boards". TV Land. Retrieved April 6, 2008. "Ball hosts Three's Company reflective"
- "Life With Lucy". TV Party. Retrieved April 6, 2008. ""Life With Lucy" turns out to be a flop"
- "Article: Lucille Ball, Pioneer of Television Comedy, Dies at 77". Retrieved August 31, 2009.
- Ball, Lucille. "Ball dies of ruptured aorta". L.A. Times. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- Ball, Lucille. "Lucy dies". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- Ball, Lucille. "Ball's Ashes Moved to Jamestown, NY". Lisa Burks. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "NATION : Lucille Ball Gets Medal of Freedom". Los Angeles Times. July 6, 1989. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
- "Welcome to Women's International Center". Women's International Center. Retrieved April 9, 2008. "Living Legacy Award"
- "The Lucille Ball Little Theater of Jamestown, Inc.". Designsmiths. Retrieved April 9, 2008. "Renaming of the "Little Theater" in Jamestown, New York"
- "TIME 100 – People of the Century". Time Magazine. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
- "USPS – Stamp Release No. 01-057 – Legendary Hollywood Star Lucille Ball Honored on U.S. Postage Stamp". US Post Office. Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. Retrieved April 9, 2008. "Ball honored on a Postage Stamp"
- "Lucille Ball — Photos, Bio and News for Lucille Ball". TV Guide. Retrieved April 9, 2008. "Lucy appears on thirty-nine covers of TV guide"
- "TiVo Community Forums Archives – TV Guide's 50 Best Shows of All Time". TV Guide. Retrieved April 9, 2008. "TV Guide's second greatest or most influential show of all time"
- "National Women's Hall of Fame". Great Women Organization. Retrieved April 9, 2008. "Ball inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame"
- "Lucille Ball Room". The Friars Club. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- "TV Land loves Lucy". Los Angeles Times. April 15, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2007.
- Associated Press (November 16, 2007). "Carson tops list of 50 greatest TV icons". MSNBC. Retrieved March 19, 2008.
- Nancy Blair (August 6, 2011). "Google Doodle pays charming tribute to Lucille Ball on her 100th". USA Today. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
- "915 Lucille Ball look-alikes set record" at upi.com
- "Walk of Fame: Lucille Ball".
- Citations – books
- Ball, Lucille (1996). Hoffman, Betty Hannah, ed. Love, Lucy. New York: Putnam. ISBN 978-0-399-14205-5. OCLC 231698725. This autobiography covers Ball's life up to 1964. It was discovered by her children in 1989 ("Love, Lucy". WorldCat. Retrieved November 19, 2011.)
- Brady, Kathleen (2001). Lucille: the life of Lucille Ball. New York: Billboard Books. p. 20. ISBN 0-8230-8913-4.
- Harris, Warren C (1991). Lucy and Desi: the legendary love story of television’s most famous couple. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-74709-1.
- Herringshaw, DeAnn (2011). Lucille Ball: Actress & Comedienne. Edina, MN: ABDO. ISBN 978-1-61787-664-6.
- 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 978-0-595-31857-5.
- Sanders, Coyne Steven; Gilbert, Thomas W. (1993). Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-688-13514-0.
- Web pages
- Karol, Michael (2003). Lucy in Print. ISBN 0-595-29321-2
- Karol, Michael (2004). Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia. ISBN 0-595-29761-7
- Karol, Michael (2005). The Comic DNA of Lucille Ball: Interpreting the Icon. ISBN 0-595-37951-6
- McClay, Michael (1995). I Love Lucy: The Complete Picture History of the Most Popular TV Show Ever. ISBN 0-446-51750-X (hardcover)
- Meeks, Eric G. (2011). P.S. I Love Lucy: The Story of Lucille Ball in Palm Springs. Horotio Limburger Oglethorpe. p. 45. ISBN 978-1468098549.
- Pugh Davis, Madelyn; with Carroll Jr., Bob (2005). Laughing With Lucy: My Life With America's Leading Lady of Comedy. ISBN 978-1-57860-247-6
- Sheridan, James; Monush, Barry Monush (2011). Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America's Favorite Redhead. ISBN 978-1-61774-082-4
- Young, Jordan R. (1999). The Laugh Crafters: Comedy Writing in Radio & TV's Golden Age. Beverly Hills: Past Times Publishing ISBN 0-940410-37-0 (interview with Bob Schiller)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lucille Ball.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Lucille Ball|
- Lucille Ball at the Internet Broadway Database
- Lucille Ball at the Internet Movie Database
- Lucille Ball at AllRovi
- Lucille Ball at TVGuide.com
- Lucille Ball at the Museum of Broadcast Communications
- Lucille Ball at Find a Grave
- Flint, Peter B. "Lucille Ball, Spirited Doyenne Of TV Comedies, Dies at 77." The New York Times. April 27, 1989.
- Excellent Biography of Lucille Ball at Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Lucille Ball and several other actors participate on Orson Welles Radio Almanac 1944; recordings
- Celebrating Lucille Ball at 100: Unpublished Photos – slideshow by LIFE.com
- Lucille Ball Google doodle