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Lucille Ball

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One of America's most beloved comedians, Lucille Ball is particularly known for her iconic television show I Love Lucy.

Born on August 6, 1911, in Jamestown, New York, Lucille Ball got her start as a singer, model and film star before becoming one of America's top comedic actresses with the 1950s TV show I Love Lucy, co-starring on the show with her husband, Desi Arnaz. The two divorced in 1960, and Ball went on to star in The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy while also becoming a top TV executive. She died in 1989.

All told, Ball would appear in 72 movies during her long career, including a string of second-tier films in the 1940s that garnered her the unofficial title "The Queen of B Movies." One of the earliest ones, a movie called Dance, Girl, Dance, introduced her to a handsome Cuban bandleader named Desi Arnaz. The two appeared together in Ball's next film, Too Many Girls, and before the year was out, the pair fell madly in love and married.

While the show ended in 1957, Desilu Productions continued on, producing more television hits like Our Miss Brooks, Make Room for Daddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Untouchables, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. In 1960 Ball and Arnaz divorced. Two years later, Ball, now remarried to comedian Gary Morton, bought out her former husband and took over Desilu Productions, making her the first woman to run a major television production studio. She eventually sold the company to Gulf-Western in 1967 for $17 milllion.

More acting work followed, including a pair of sitcoms, The Lucy Show (1962-68) and Here's Lucy (1968-73). Both achieved a modest level of success, but neither captured the magic that had defined her earlier program with Arnaz. It didn't matter, though. Even if she had never done another piece of acting again, Lucille Ball's impact on the world of comedy and the television industry in general would have been widely recognized.

In 1971 she became the first woman to receive the International Radio and Television Society's Gold Medal. In addition there were four Emmys, induction into the Television Hall of Fame and recognition for her life's work from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In 1985, Ball strayed from her comedic background to take on a dramatic role as a homeless woman in the made-for-TV movie Stone Pillow. While it was hardly a smash hit, Ball earned some praise for her performance. Most critics, though, wanted to see her return to comedy, and in 1986 she debuted a new CBS sitcom, Life With Lucy. The program earned its star $2.3 million but not much of an audience. After just eight episodes it was canceled.

It was to be Ball's last real television role. Three years later, on April 26, 1989, she died from a ruptured aorta following open-heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Companies and Investments

Desilu Productions (co-founder and co-owner)

Lessons Learned

A lot of the really beautiful girls didn't want to do some of the things I did—put on mud packs and scream and run around and fall into pools ... I didn't mind getting messed up. That's how I got into physical comedy.

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.

I cured myself of shyness when it finally occurred to me that people didn't think about me half as much as I gave them credit for. The truth was, nobody gave a damn. Like most teenagers, I was far too self-centered. When I stopped being prisoner to what I worried was others’ opinions of me, I became more confident and free.


Inspiring Quotes

Lucille Ball's Quotes

Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.

Lucille Ball

Id rather regret the things I have done than the things that I havent.

Lucille Ball

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. Your really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

Lucille Ball

Its a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.

Lucille Ball

Im not funny. What I am is brave.

Lucille Ball

Influential Books

Mentors

References


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