LUCILLE D. BALL
Lucille Ball was born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York to Desiree (DeDe) and Henry Ball. Her father was a line man for the Bell Company and his job required frequent transfers, at age 3 Ball and family moved to Anaconda, Montana and then to Wyandotte, Michigan. While Mrs. Ball was pregnant with her second child Henry Ball, died of typhoid fever in 1915.
As a teenager Ball was quite wild. There was an incident where a young man stood in the way of a rifle being shot by Ball and friends, the young man was paralyzed. Her grandfather was charged with letting unsupervised and inexperienced teenagers control rifles. She also ran away on a regular basis but would always return home. At age fifteen Ball decided to drop out of school with the support of her mother. She then enrolled in John Murray Anderson/Robert Milton School of Theater in New York City. Nervous and shy in a city that she hated after six weeks she quit and returned home.
Ball later returned to New York despite the fact that she had a crippling disease called rheumatoid arthritis and worked as a model with dress designer Hattie Carnegie. Her only significant success came when she was picked by Ligget and Myers to promote cigarettes as the "Chesterfield Girl." Her success as a film star came one day as she was walking down Broadway and ran into Sylvia Hahlo, a local theatrical agent. Hahlo informed ball of an opportunity to appear in the new Eddie Cantor film, Roman Scandals (1933), produced by Samuel Godwyn. Ball auditioned and became one of the twelve "Godwyn Girls". She had a very small role, that of a slave girl, and it would many years later that she received celebrity status, but she had found Hollywood.
In 1940, Ball met cuban vocalist and bandleader Desi Arnez on the set of RKO Studios during the filming of Two Many Girls (1940). They were married November 30, 1940. Arnez was born in 1917 in Cuba, where his father was mayor of Santiago, an important seaport city. The Arnez family was lucky and lived in relative luxury until the political revolution in 1933. Following his father's imprisonment his family fled to the United States. Arnez worked his way through several menial jobs before joining bandleader Xazier Cugat as a vocalist.
Lucille and her husband Desi established a studio called Desilu. This studio is were the famous "I Love Lucy" show was developed. I Love Lucy aired from October 15, 1951 to September 24, 1961. The original show only aired six years but it was so popular the reruns and numerous specials aired another four years. The show was about a clumsy scatterbrained housewife who couldn't seem to stay out of trouble, and her husband a Latin bandleader. One of the most memorable shows was the birth of her son Little Ricky Ricardo an episode that aired the same night that she gave birth to her real son. Needless to say that at the shows peak it was the highest rated show on television.
The day after her final show was taped Ball filed for a divorce. After her divorce she purchased her ex-husband's share of Desilu and became the first women to head a studio since Mary Pickford many years before. She began a role on her own television series called The Lucy Show. In this show Ball played a widow with two children, despite its tiring plot the show remained popular for most of the twelve years aired, and at one point it was the highest rated show on television.
Desilu productions was sold to the large Gulf + Industries in 1967. After this Ball continued to work sporadically. She tried to create a new show call Life with Lucy in 1986 but found it hard to be funny as she was in the past. The show was cancelled soon after its debut. In December 1986, Arnez died of a ongoing struggle with cancer. Ball was on of the last people to speak to him. In May 1988, Ball suffered a stroke and became partially paralyzed. During her recuperation she developed heart problems and after undergoing open heart surgery she died suddenly on April 25,1989.
Back to Business