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|Lucille Ball Biography and Filmography
Birthday: August 6, 1911
Birth Place: Jamestown, New York, USA
Height: 5' 7"
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Left fatherless at the age of four, American actress Lucille Ball developed a strong work ethic in childhood; among her more unusual jobs was as a "seeing eye kid" for a blind soap peddler. Ball's mother sent the girl to the Chautauqua Institution for piano lessons, but she was determined to pursue an acting career after watching the positive audience reaction given to vaudeville monologist Julius Tannen. Young Ball performed in amateur plays for the Elks club and at her high school, at one point starring, staging, and publicizing a production of Charley's Aunt. In 1926, Ball enrolled in the John Murray Anderson American Academy of Dramatic Art in Manhattan (where Bette Davis was the star pupil), but was discouraged by her teachers to continue due to her shyness. Her reticence notwithstanding, Ball kept trying until she got chorus-girl work and modeling jobs; but even then she received little encouragement from her peers, and the combination of a serious auto accident and recurring stomach ailments seemed to bode ill for her theatrical future. Still, Ball was no quitter, and, in 1933, she managed to become one of the singing/dancing Goldwyn Girls for movie producer Samuel Goldwyn; her first picture was Eddie Cantor's Roman Scandals (1933). Working her way up from bit roles at both Columbia Pictures (where one of her assignments was in a Three Stooges short) and RKO Radio, Ball finally attained featured billing in 1935, and stardom in 1938 — albeit mostly in B-movies. Throughout the late 1930s and '40s, Ball's movie career moved steadily, if not spectacularly; even when she got a good role like the nasty-tempered nightclub star in The Big Street (1942), it was usually because the "bigger" RKO contract actresses had turned it down. By the time she finished a contract at MGM (she was dubbed "Technicolor Tessie" at the studio because of her photogenic red hair and bright smile) and returned to Columbia in 1947, she was considered washed up. Ball's home life was none too secure, either. She'd married Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz in 1940, but, despite an obvious strong affection for one another, they had separated and considered divorce numerous times during the war years. Hoping to keep her household together, Ball sought out professional work in which she could work with her husband. Offered her own TV series in 1950, she refused unless Arnaz would co-star. Television was a godsend for the couple; and Arnaz discovered he had a natural executive ability, and was soon calling all the shots for what would become I Love Lucy. From 1951 through 1957, it was the most popular sitcom on television, and Ball, after years of career stops and starts, was firmly established as a megastar in her role of zany, disaster-prone Lucy Ricardo. When her much-publicized baby was born in January 1953, the story received more press coverage than President Eisenhower's inauguration. With their new Hollywood prestige, Ball and Arnaz were able to set up the powerful Desilu Studios production complex, ultimately purchasing the facilities of RKO, where both performers had once been contract players. But professional pressures and personal problems began eroding the marriage, and Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960, although both continued to operate Desilu. Ball gave Broadway a try in the 1960 musical Wildcat, which was successful but no hit, and, in 1962, returned to TV to solo as Lucy Carmichael on The Lucy Show. She'd already bought out Arnaz's interest in Desilu, and, before selling the studio to Gulf and Western in 1969, Ball had become a powerful executive in her own right, determinedly guiding the destinies of such fondly remembered TV series as Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. The Lucy Show ended in the spring of 1968, but Ball was back that fall with Here's Lucy, in which she played "odd job" specialist Lucy Carter and co-starred with her real-life children, Desi Jr. and Lucie. Here's Lucy lasted until 1974, at which time her career took some odd directions. She poured a lot of her own money in a film version of the Broadway musical Mame (1974), which can charitably be labeled an embarrassment. Her later attempts to resume TV production, and her benighted TV comeback in the 1986 sitcom Life With Lucy, were unsuccessful, although Ball, herself, continued to be lionized as the First Lady of Television, accumulating numerous awards and honorariums. Despite her many latter-day attempts to change her image — in addition to her blunt, commandeering off-stage personality — Ball would forever remain the wacky "Lucy" that Americans had loved intensely in the '50s. She died in 1989.
- Received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award posthumously in 1990.
- Originally interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA, Columbarium of Radiant Dawn, Court of Remembrance. In 2003, she was re-interred in the Ball family plot in Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, New York.
- A comment from a member of the preview audience of Follow the Fleet (1936) about bit-player Ball: "You might give the tall gum chewing blonde more parts and see if she can't make the grade - a good gamble."
- Ball and Barbara Pepper met early in their careers when they were both "Goldwyn Girls" and remained lifelong friends.
- Mother of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr..
- During a Barbara Walter's interview, Jane Fonda claims that her father, Henry Fonda, was deeply in love with Lucille Ball and that the two were "very close" during the filming of Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).
- Was the first woman to own her own film studio.
- Born a brunette.
- She signed her first promotional agreement with Max Factor in 1935, and again in 1942. Of all the stars, she had the longest association with the Factor company.
- Once registered as a voter for the Communist party as a favor to her grandfather.
- Lucy and her son, Desi Arnaz Jr., appeared together on the very first cover of "TV Guide" magazine in 1953.
- Died the morning of April 26, 1989, the fifty-sixth birthday of her friend Carol Burnett. That afternoon Burnett received the flowers that Ball had ordered for her birthday.
- During the 1933 filming of Roman Scandals (1933), young Lucille Ball, portraying a slave girl, needed to have her eyebrows entirely shaved off. They never grew back.
- Before her movie career, Lucille was a model at Hattie Carnegie's in New York. She mainly modeled heavy fur coats, because she was startlingly thin as a young lady.
- Lucy and Desi Arnaz began "I Love Lucy" (1951) in the hopes of saving their crumbling marriage.
- She was fired from working at an ice cream store because she kept forgetting to put bananas in banana splits.
- She put her Chesterfield cigarettes in a Phillip Morris package to please her sponsor (of the "I Love Lucy" (1951) show).
- TV Guide picked her as the greatest TV star of all time.
- Was one of the 20 original 'Goldwyn Girls', along with Virginia Bruce, Ann Dvorak, Paulette Goddard and Betty Grable.
- Born at 5:00 pm
- Second cousin of actress Suzan Ball.
- For many years durring their marriage Lucy and Desi hid the fact that she was six years older then him by splitting the difference in their ages. She (born in 1911) said she was born in 1914 and he (born in 1917) also said he was born in 1914.
- Was known for a while as Dianne Belmont back when she was a model.
- Pictured on a 34¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued 6 August 2001.
- Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2002.
- Her favorite movie she made was The Big Street (1942). Up to her dying day, she resented AMPAS for not recognizing her performance in the movie by including her for an Academy Award nomination.
- One of her last television appearances was in 1989 on the 62nd Accademy Awards, with Bob Hope, announcing the nominations and winner of Best Picture.
- Stricken by rheumatoid arthritis early in her modeling career and spent 2 years re-learning how to walk.
- Filed for a divorce from husband Desi Arnaz, the day following the last day of filming "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" (1957). [3 March 1960]
- Measurements: 33-22 1/2 -34 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
- Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 35-37. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
- Felt that she did not deserve the title of "Queen of Comedy" and felt that it belonged to her idol, Carole Lombard.
- While still contemplating whether to do the "I Love Lucy" (1951) shows, she claimed that in her dream, Carole Lombard came to her and told her to "Give it a whirl".
- Was Frank Sinatra's first choice for the role of Laurence Harvey's mother in The Manchurian Candidate (1962). He was only dissuaded when John Frankenheimer took him to see Angela Lansbury in a play.
- Disliked any false form of a bird, she preferred to see them in person so she banned all pictures of birds from her house and any hotel room she was staying in.
- Had a superstition about the letters A and R, which is why her character was named Lucy RicARdo in "I Love Lucy" (1951), Lucy CARmichael in "The Lucy Show" (1962), Lucy CARter in _"Here's Lucy" (1977)_ , and Lucy BARker in "Life with Lucy" (1986) (she was also married to Desi ARnaz). She believed she didn't have luck in her career until she changed her name to Arnaz.
- First cousin of Cleo Morgan, though they were raised as sisters.
- Related by marriage to Sid Gould.
- Related by marriage to Vanda Barra
- Was of Irish, Scottish, French, and English descent
- Named the Greatest TV Star of All Time by TV Guide.
- Suffered a miscarriage with her and Desi Arnaz's first child in 1942.
- Suffered a second miscarriage with her and Desi Arnaz's second child in 1949.
- Suffered third miscarriage in 1950 with husband Desi Arnaz
- Is portrayed by Gypsi DeYoung in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980) (TV) and by Rachel York in Lucy (2003) (TV)
- Comedian John Belushi was a fan of her and knew every detail of her life and career.
- She was proud of her family and heritage. Her genealogy can be traced back to the earliest settlers in the colonies. One direct ancestor, "William Sprague (1609-1675), left England on the ship "Lyon's Whelp" for Plymouth/Salem, Massachusetts. They were from Upwey, Dorsetshire, England. William along with his 2 brothers helped to found the city of Charlestown, Massachusetts. Other Sprague relatives became soldiers in the Revolutionary War and 2 of them became governors of the state of Rhode Island.
- Lucie and Desi Jr made guest appearances in the final episode of "I Love Lucy" as members of the crowd when Lucy dedicates the statue-Vivian Vance can be seen holding their hands.
- Lucy and Desi were married a second time in 1946 in a church because his mother believed that the reason they didn't have children yet was because they were never married in the Catholic Church.
- Lucy and Desi were married at the Byram River Beagle Club in Connecticut in 1940.
- Lucy filed for divorce from Desi in the 1940s, but didn't go through with it because they reconciled.
- Not long after the Arnazes bought their house on Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills, it was featured in an episode of "I Love Lucy" (the one where Richard Widmark guest stars and she climbs over the fence to pick a grapefruit).
- She named herself Diane Belmont after the Belmont racetrack in New York.
- The day she first met Desi Arnaz, she had a black eye and a torn dress from filming a fight scene from the movie "Dance, Girl, Dance" and he didn't find her at all attractive until they met again later in the day when she had changed into her own clothes and makeup.
- The original Desilu was Lucy and Desi's ranch in Chatsworth, CA. They named it after Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford's estate "Pickfair."
- Was once known as the "Chesterfield Girl" because she was the spokesmodel for Chesterfield cigarettes.
- Was tutored in comedy by Buster Keaton.
- When they were first married in 1940, Desi had to give Lucy a ring from a drugstore because all jewelry stores were closed. She wore it for the rest of their marriage.
- Her biological father died when she was three years old.
- Older sister of Fred Ball.
- Is portrayed by Frances Fisher in Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter (1991) (TV)