I Love Lucy - Lucille Ball
The year 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the commencement of the “I Love Lucy” television series in 1951 and the 100th anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birth in 1911.
We warmly pay tribute to her legacy with some of the finest Christopher Radko and Polonaise “I Love Lucy” European glass ornament collectibles!
Lucille Ball became immortalized as “Lucy Ricardo” in the “I Love Lucy” television program, which has been watched by more people than any other TV series to this day. Not only is she known for her character’s zany impersonations and rubber-faced antics, but she was also a Broadway star, a serious actress, and a shrewd businesswoman.
Lucille Desiree Ball was born on August 6, 1911. Following her father’s death in 1915, she lived with her mother, DeDe Ball, and grandparents in Celoron near Jamestown, New York.
DeDe Ball served as a constant inspiration in Lucy’s life. Lucy’s laugh mimics her mother’s laughter, which frequently reverberated throughout the home. DeDe strongly encouraged Lucy to pursue an entertainment career and enrolled her daughter in the John Murray Anderson/Robert Milton School of Theater and Dance in New York, the same school where Bette Davis, “The First Lady of the American Screen,” studied. Unfortunately, Lucy failed and the school told DeDe it was a waste of money for her daughter to continue.
Lucy went back to the stage after a brief return to Celoron and worked as a model. At age 17, she suddenly fell ill with rheumatic fever and DeDe cared for her for three years, finally nursing her back to heath.
A Serious Entertainer
Lucy received her first recognition when taking a “pie in the face” as a walk-on replacement in “Broadway Thru a Keyhole,” a Busby Berkeley production. After watching her, the renowned Berkeley demanded, “Get the girl’s name. That’s the one who will make it.”
Subsequently, Lucille Ball gained tremendous skill by working with comic greats such as the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and the Three Stooges. She received critical praise for her performance in “Stage Door” in 1937 and in “The Big Street” in 1942. She also met Desi Arnaz, a Cuban-born entertainer whom she later married in 1940. But from Berkeley’s first recognition of her talent, it took another fifteen years for her to gain stardom after the "I Love Lucy" show aired on TV.
Rise to Fame
In order to prove to CBS that their talent was television-worthy, Lucy and Desi performed as a duo on the road, during which time they formed the jointly owned Desilu production company. Seeing their success, CBS premiered the "I Love Lucy" show in 1951. Within six months, the show was the number one rated program on TV. It later became the first to claim more than ten million viewers. Filmed live before a studio audience that importantly helped Lucy gauge her comedic affect, it also revolutionized television production through the use of three cameras.
In the series, Lucille Ball was portrayed as a daffy, red-haired woman who strives to become a star. Her aspirations involved both her bandleader husband and her in some of the strangest and funniest situations imaginable. Along with Lucy and Desi, the Mertzes also became household names. Vivian Vance as Ethel and William Frawley as Fred were long-term neighbors who invariably tried to resolve or added to Lucy’s ensuing predicaments. The actors and series won numerous Emmy awards.
A Shrewd Businesswoman
Lucy once said, “Ability is of little account without opportunity.” She largely created her own opportunity, first by working with Desi who proved to have good business acumen, and later, on her own.
Desilu took a major risk by requiring the series to be filmed, instead of using the commonly used inferior kinescopes technique. Film allowed the episodes to be preserved but was extremely expensive. In fact, CBS required that Balll and Arnez discount their wages to help both pay for the added cost. However, never having experienced the "re-run" phenomenon, CBS gladly allowed Desilu to own the rights of the film after the episodes were aired. The use of film proved to be an investment that handsomely paid off and ultimately ensured the legacy of the series and of Lucile Ball. Lucy was also able to select Desilu productions, such as “The Untouchables,” “Mission Impossible,” and Star Trek,” with strong syndication and re-run potentials that would offset the cost of production.
After Lucy and Desi divorced in 1960, Lucy bought out the Desilu corporation for $3 million, becoming the first woman to own a big studio, and later sold it for $18 million.
A Lasting Legacy
In real life, Lucille Ball was surprisingly quite a different person from the “I Love Lucy” personality. In describing herself, she’s stated, “I never thought I was funny. I don't think funny … What I am is brave”. Accordingly, she was mostly a serious, practical thinker. She not only persevered and overcame various adversities, but pioneered comedic roles that her fans still cherish today, such as her wonderful Hobo clown performances with Red Skelton. In general, she worked to perfect her entertainment craft -- her performances appeared effortless and endlessly funny and otherwise superbly acted.
Today, millions of fans continue to watch “I Love Lucy” reruns, and it remains one of the top 30 series of all times.
So here’s to you Lucille Ball, from the Team at SundryShop. Happy Anniversary, “I Love Lucy!” As our great I Love Lucy collectibles attest, we certainly do love you!