Lucille Desiree Ball was born in Jamestown, New York on August 6, 1911. When Lucy was 15, her mother enrolled her in a dramatic school, but after a time she was sent home saying she had no talent as an actress. She returned to Jamestown for a while, but still had dreams of being an actress. She returned to New York but with acting jobs scarce, settled for being a model and later an Earl Carroll showgirl.
Her modeling job as the Chesterfield Cigarette poster girl led to her selection as a Goldwyn Girl, and off she went to Hollywood to make her first film appearance in Eddie Cantor's musical "Roman Scandals". After that, she moved on to Columbia and RKO to play minor roles in films such as "Roberta", "Follow the Fleet", and others. She then began playing larger and more prominent roles, such as in "Stage Door" starring Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn, and "Room Service" with the Marx brothers. After RKO, she moved to Paramount, and Columbia and finally,with the introduction of color, Lucille died her hair red in 1944 for the MGM cameras and became known as "Technicolor Tessie".
In 1940, Lucille was cast as Connie Casey in a musical entitled "Too Many Girls" with a young, handsome Cuban named Desi Arnaz playing Manuelito, a football player/bodyguard to Lucille. It was there that Lucy and Desi met, fell in love, and eloped on November 30, 1940. But the newly-weds were apart most of the time, with Desi touring with his band and Lucille making movies in Hollywood. This constantly being apart caused a rough time marriage-wise for Lucy, and in 1944 she filed for divorce, but the day before the divorce Desi met with her and patched things up, and she decided to drop suit. On June 19, 1949 with their marriage going strong, Lucy and Desi were married again in a Catholic ceremony.
In 1948, Lucille began doing a radio show sponsored by CBS called "My Favorite Husband" in which she co-starred with Richard Denning as Liz Cooper, a scatter-brained wife who's imagination got her into trouble most of the time. After the three year success of "My Favorite Husband", CBS was in the process of transferring all its hit radio series to a new medium, television. CBS wanted to transfer "My Favorite Husband" to television, but Lucy said she would be on the show only on one condition, that Desi play her husband. The CBS executives refused, saying the public wouldn't believe she was married to a Cuban. So in order to prove that the audiences would believe they were married and could work together as a team, Lucy and Desi set up a vaudeville tour and took it across the country, and the audiences loved them! So CBS agreed to let Desi play her husband, and Phillip Morris became a sponsor, and "I Love Lucy" was born!
"I Love Lucy" won 5 Emmy Awards during it's original run, with over twenty nominations. It was the number one show of the 1950's. It is now known as one of the most classic and successful shows in television history, and is still being shown today! Desi was becoming too busy with his position as president of Desilu studios to keep up with a weekly "I Love Lucy", so "I Love Lucy" was taken off the air at the end of the 1957 season and replaced by 13 hourly specials entitled "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour", and continued until 1960 when business stress and personal problems grew fierce, Lucy and Desi divorced, this time for good.
After the divorce, Lucy still wanted to continue her film career, so in the 1960's she made a film with her frequent film co-star, Bob Hope called "The Facts of Life". After that, she starred in a Broadway musical "Wildcat!" which she played Wildcat Jackson, a rough and tough gal hoping to strike it rich on oil. It was a big hit, but had to be closed on account of Lucy's health.(She had fainted on stage once before, and was just too exhausted from the strenuous task of doing seven shows a week to go on) While she was doing a performance in New York, she was introduced to a nightclub comedian, Gary Morton, and the two fell in love and were married on November 19, 1961.
In 1962 Lucy returned to television with a new color sitcom for CBS co-starring Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon, called "The Lucy Show", which ran for six years. Also in 1962 Lucy took Desi's place as president of Desilu studios and became the first woman president of a Hollywood production company. Five years later, she sold Desilu to Gulf + Western and formed her own production company, Lucille Ball productions, which produced her 1968 television series which ran for six years, "Here's Lucy" which co-starred her real life children Lucie and Desi, Jr., playing her TV children.
Lucy retired from her weekly series in 1974, she made her last motion picture, "Mame", as well. Through 1974 to 1985 Lucy kept herself busy with guest appearances and specials. In 1985 she decided to tackle a dramatic TV movie, "Stone Pillow" where she played a homeless New York City bag lady which earned her critical acclaim but left her in frail health. The next year she tried again at a weekly series for ABC, entitled "Life with Lucy", but it was pulled only after running two months because of low ratings. Later that year Lucille was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the highest honor in entertainment.
In March of 1989, Lucy made her last public appearance at the Annual Academy Awards Telecast to a standing ovation from the crowd. She died on April 26, 1989 after open heart surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. She was 77.
But her legacy still lives, she lives on in each laugh
she brings us from her 124 radio episodes of "My Favorite Husband" , to
the 179 episodes of "I Love Lucy", the 13 "Lucy-Desi Comedy Hours", the
156 episodes of "The Lucy Show" , and 144 episodes of "Here's Lucy", and
her 79 movies, in a career that spanned over 50 years. Yes, we've laughed
because of Lucy........and we'll continue to laugh forever more. Thank