Lucille Ball, known for her humor, ground breaking television show and bright red hair, left behind a lasting legacy in Hollywood.
Comedienne Lucille Ball was one of the biggest television stars of the 1950’s and a pioneer for women in the entertainment industry. More than just an actress, Lucille Ball was the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu, which produced a number of popular television shows including Star Trek, Mission Impossible, and The Andy Griffith Show.
Lucille Ball was born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Her father died in 1915 and she was raised by her mother and grandparents. She received her first taste of the spotlight when she was 12 years old and her stepfather encouraged her to audition for the chorus line in one of his Shriner organization’s productions. She enjoyed the recognition and praise that came with being on stage. In 1926, in an attempt to separate Lucille from her undesirable older boyfriend, Lucille’s mother encouraged her to attend drama school in New York City. She was not a success but returned to the city in 1928 where she worked a number of jobs, including one as a model. After an uncredited movie roll in 1933 she moved to Hollywood where she had a number of small rolls in television and B movies throughout the rest of the decade.
In 1940 she met Desi Arnaz and they eloped the same year. In 1948 after she was cast in a successful radio show, CBS asked her to develop the show for television and Lucille insisted on working with Arnaz. CBS was reluctant and not impressed with their pilot episode. The two instead took the show on the road and it was a huge success, so CBS eventually put I Love Lucy in their primetime lineup in 1951. The show ran for six seasons, four of which it earned the number one spot in the ratings. It was the first television program to be shot in 35 mm film in front of a studio audience and it was nominated for many awards and won five Emmys. It was also awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. Lucille Ball herself was nominated for an Emmy 13 times and won four.
After the show ended Lucille Ball went on to act on stage and in movies throughout the 1960’s and 70’s. She received many awards including the Women in Film Crystal Award and the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. She and Arnaz divorced in 1960 and in 1961 she married Gary Morton, who she was with until her death in 1989. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously that same year. In 2007 I Love Lucy was named the Greatest TV Series by Hall of Fame Magazine. That same year she was named second on the list of 50 Greatest TV Icons.