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The Unforgettable Lucille Ball

Entertainment | September 15, 2018

American actress Lucille Ball (1911 - 1989) appears on radio program 'The Phil Baker Show', 1938. (Photo by Gene Lester/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Lucille Ball was the one of the most adored and funny actresses in the history of television. With her hilarious antics on the sitcom of “I Love Lucy,” she definitely made an impact of all of us. The 30 minute show was one of those shows you didn’t mind watching over and over again.

Contrary to the belief which was instilled by “Ricky Ricardo” on “I Love Lucy,” Lucille Ball really could sing as well as act. In fact, after first starting out as a model in 1929, she went on to perform on Broadway and later, she was a chorus girl on radio programs.

Throughout her career, there was a question about her hair color. The media and producers always filmed her on the sitcoms she played in as either a gorgeous redhead or a blonde bombshell; but, in actuality, she was a brunette. It was when she was in New York City, in 1928, that she was ordered to change her hair color to blonde for the modeling job she acquired.

An interesting turn of events in her life is that, when Lucille was in drama school, she was told by her teachers that she would never make it in the entertainment business. Oh how wrong they were! Because of their harsh criticism, Lucille returned to New York City to prove them wrong and she did just that! Another interesting detail to note is that if it had not been for her mother trying to break up her daughter’s relationship with a guy, who she considered to be a “hoodlum,” she would never have ended up in New York City in the first place. When Lucille was only 14 years old, she was dating a boy that her mother could not persuade her to break up with so she capitalized on Lucy's desire to be in show business by essentially helping her get into a school for dramatic arts in New York City.  

It was in 1940 when Lucile met the Cuban band leader that would be her husband, both on screen and off screen. They met during a filming of “Too Many Girls.” Right away, the sparks flew and they wasted no time, eloping that same year. 

Lucile Ball with her husband, Desi Arnaz, celebrating their 12th anniversary in Palm Springs.

Just before she turned 40, her first child was born, Lucie Desiree Arnaz. A year and half later, their second child was born, Desi Arnaz Jr. Despite original demands by CBS that a pregnant woman could not be aired on television, they finally relented and allowed it, with the exception they not use the word “pregnancy” but instead had to use the word “expecting.” With Ricky’s deliberate mispronunciation of the word, it came out as “spectin” which spurred on some laughter from the audience. Because she was having a Cesarean section, which is scheduled in advance, they were able to schedule the delivery on the very same date, January 19, 1953, that the show would be airing the birth of "Little Ricky”. Perfect timing!

On “I Love Lucy,” we, as the fans, saw Lucy and Ricky as a happy couple despite ups and downs they went through, which were mostly due to some scheme Lucy and Ethel would get mixed up in. Those schemes are what made the show so entertaining to watch as Lucy was always trying to figure a way out of the mess she had gotten herself into.

Sadly, though, after 20 years of “wedded bliss,” they divorced in 1960 just two months before the last episode of “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.” According to Lucille’s claims, the life they lived in real life was nothing like the life they portrayed on the show. That was a shock to all of the fans of the show. Lucille said their married life was a nightmare. It just goes to show you that you cannot believe everything you see on television. It is for our entertainment, which Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz both definitely did well to accomplish. The show was very successful and still entertains us today with all the reruns of the show.

After the divorce, Lucille went to star in other shows. Two of her other shows that were long-running series also became big hits. One was “The Lucy Show” with Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon and ran from 1962 until 1968. The other one was “Here’s Lucy” also with Gale Gordon and both her children which ran from 1968 until 1974. With all her accomplishments, Lucille Ball has been probably the best female comedian-actress of her time, giving us years of enjoyment that continues today. At the age of 77, she passed away from an abdominal aortic aneurysm that ruptured but she left us a legacy that no other shoes can fill. She was quite unique.   

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Terry Claypoole

Writer

Terry is a lover of the beach, history, politics and has a passion for social media and technology. In her spare time, you can find her at the beach (of course) enjoying the sand and sun and listening to music from the groovy era.