Lucille Ball captivated audiences across the country as she starred in situation comedy shows, movies, and other roles. Ira Riklis gives details about the life, career and other factors that led to Lucille Ball becoming America’s favorite redhead.
The Beginning Of America’s Favorite Redhead
Born August 6, 1911, in Jamestown New York as Lucille Désirée Ball, life was not easy even at a young age. After Lucille Ball’s father died when Lucy was just four years old, her mother worked at a variety of jobs, largely leaving grandparents to raise Lucille and her brother.
Lucille is quoted describing herself as a restless teenager who wanted to “make some noise.” She dropped out of high school at just 15 to begin making that noise. She worked several jobs before breaking into acting.
She had an interest in acting early-on and enrolled in a drama school in New York City. One of her classmates received the majority of attention. That classmate was Bette Davis. She soon left the school after receiving notice that she was too shy and the school sending a note to Lucille’s mother that she should stop wasting her money.
This did not deter Lucille Ball, however. She joined a modeling agency and from there, found some acting roles, as well as love.
Romance And Marriage Leading To A Show
While on the set of Too Many Girls in 1940, she met Desi Arnaz and after a whirlwind romance, they married in 1940. Desi acted and was also a musician, which would later prove invaluable to Lucille Ball’s own career.
Notable Biographies explains that Lucille became a fiery redhead in 1943, although several stories swirled about the reason for her becoming a redhead. Her red hair became such a part of the way people recognized her that over time, she became known as America’s favorite redhead.
By 1950, Lucy had starred in several B-rated productions. She needed a boost to catapult her into the stardom she desperately desired. She also wanted to include her husband, which led to her making a proposition to include Desi in a new situation comedy. Lucy already had experience while playing the scatterbrained wife in a radio comedy. CBS agreed to let Desi Arnaz play opposite Lucille Ball. I Love Lucy soon began production and became one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, even as the marriage began to fall apart.
Sitcom Success Over The Years
After just six months, I Love Lucy became the number one television show. Lucy played the scatterbrained wife of her entertainer-musician husband, always looking to include herself in her husband’s television character, Ricky Ricardo.
Lucy had help with her antics from best friend “Ethel” (Vivian Vance), much to the chagrin of Ricky as well as Ethel’s husband “Fred” (William Frawley). The birth of “Little Ricky” on the show popularized the show even more. She won numerous awards for her role, including Best Comedienne, 1952.
However, not even the popularity of the show could save the marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The two divorced in 1960.
Here’s Lucy was Lucille Ball’s third hit television show. Her television comedy was still popular at the time. The show featured her own children Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. as her children. Millions of families tuned in to Here’s Lucy every week from 1968 to 1974.The Lucy Show’
The End Of An Era
After cancellation of Here’s Lucy, Lucille Ball tried to captivate audiences in 1980 with the show Life with Lucy. It flopped, marking the end of Lucille Ball’s regular television appearances. She appeared as a guest on many TV shows, however.
The Lucy Desi Museum lists the multitude of awards and recognition that Lucille Ball received over the years. America’s favorite redhead died of an aortic aneurysm on April 26, 1989, at the age of 77. Her legend lives on.