Lucy Ball: 40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart Lucille Ball
40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball

Sarah January - September 25, 2019

Hilarious. Engaging. Icon. These words could arguably describe many actors, actresses, comedians, and entertainers that have crossed our TV screens over the years. Yet there is one who stands out from the crowd, largely due to her gorgeous red hair, Lucille Ball. An absolute star on stage and in public life; yet her private life holds its own share of secrets. The list below compiles 40 facts about the beautiful and zany woman who brought endless smiles to many faces.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Cast of I Love Lucy – William Frawley, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, and Vivian Vance. (WikimediaCommons)

40. Lucy didn’t get her big break until she turned 40

Each generation faces societal pressures to achieve milestones by a certain age. Graduate and get a job by 22. Married by 26 and kids before 30. You have to accomplish everything before you get “old”, right? Lucy on the other hand couldn’t have cared less about societal pressure so she put her head down and worked until she got what she wanted. She was 40 years old when she got her starring role on I Love Lucy. Before getting her big break she worked in the industry in various capacities and for over 20 years.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball Baby Pictures ( Pinterest )

39. She auditioned for her first role at 12.

Though her dreams did not fully manifest until later in her life, she participated in her first audition at the age of 12. Lucy’s stepfather encouraged her to go out for a part in a local production despite having no experience. Her first audition resulted in her being given a part in the chorus line of the production. It was then that she realized she could earn the recognition and praise that she found lacking in other areas of her life. So upon being chosen for the part, she decided to pursue show biz and never looked back.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy with her children (pagesix.com)

38. Lucy had both of her children later in life

Another accomplishment Lucille achieved later in life was becoming a mother. She and her husband, Desi Arnaz, are rumored to have had somewhat of a rough time carrying a child to term. Lucy is said to have suffered multiple miscarriages which were, understandably, hard on her. You can imagine the excitement when Lucy gave birth to her first child in 1951, a girl that she named Lucie. More excitement came in 1953, when she gave birth to her son Desi Jr. At the time she had her first child, Lucy was 40 and she was almost 42 when she gave birth the second time. Her pregnancy with Desi Jr. later ended up being beneficial to her career in a way that no one expected.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
John Murray Anderson- Founder of the acting school Lucy attended ( Wikipedia)

37. She quit high school at 15 to go to acting school

Yes, technically speaking, Lucille Ball was a high school dropout. At the age of 15, she ditched her regular old public school in pursuit of the big stage and went to John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts. Once she started there, it turns out that it was not all she had hoped. According to Ball, all that she learned there “was how to be frightened”, as her instructors did not think much of her and were not afraid to say so. Her instructors reportedly thought there was no way she could make it into the show business industry. Oh, how wrong they were.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucille and Desi. vintagenewsdaily

36. Lucy and Her Husband were TV’s first interracial couple.

Lucille Ball married Desi Arnaz in 1940. That, in itself, was a big deal at the time. Shortly thereafter, she got her big break with I Love Lucy and insisted that Desi play her on-screen hubby. The head network executives were not fans of this idea as they were convinced no one in America would believe a white housewife would be married to a foreigner. Turns out, they couldn’t have been more wrong. The on-screen dynamics between Lucy and Desi were undeniable and crowds began tuning in every week.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and Vivian Vance on the set of The Lucy Show (Wikipedia)

35. She starred in and produced 4 different TV shows

Though the most well-known of her shows is I Love Lucy, she additionally starred in three more TV shows after her first ended. She produced and starred in The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy, from 1962-1986. Her long-time counterpart, Vivian Vance, was cast on The Lucy Show, and her children appeared on her other shows as well. Many of her famous friends also made appearances on her various shows, including Carol Burnett and Barbara Eden. The last of her sitcoms, Life with Lucy was the only one to be canceled before all the episodes even aired.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Desilu Productions (Pinterest)

34. Lucy was the first woman to run a major studio in Hollywood

Along with her husband, Lucy formed Desilu Productions in 1950. She is the first woman to run a major production studio in Hollywood at a time when that was a male-dominated part of the industry. Desilu Productions was the original home of some other big TV shows from the time as well. CBS now owns the entire library of all of the Desilu-produced TV shows. While Desilu Productions no longer exists, you might recognize it today as the original Paramount Television which is still in production today.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and Desi Wedding (Pinterest)

33. Her wedding ring was from a drug store

On the initial day Lucy and Desi were to marry, turns out all the jewelry stores decided to go on vacation and nothing was open. Despite the potentially dark omen now hanging over their union, the ever-resourceful Desi came up with a solution. He bestowed upon his new bride a ring that he purchased at a drug store so that the nuptials could proceed. Lucy proudly wore that ring the entirety of their marriage.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and her daughter having milkshakes (Pinterest)

32. She worked at an ice cream store

We often forget that before they were famous, stars generally were normal people who had to start with a normal job at some point in their life. The same is true for Lucille Ball. Before she made it big, she worked at an ice cream parlor. Rumor has it, she got fired for forgetting the banana in a customer’s banana split!

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy’s modeling days (goodhousekeeping.com)

31. Before acting, she modeled.

Before she became a well-known actress, Lucy worked as a model. In 1922, her modeling career became her focus as she attempted to break into the acting world. In 1928, she returned to New York as a model for fashion entrepreneur, Hattie Carnegie. Over the years, she was chosen for minor acting parts while she continued to model. That all changed in 1951 when she and her husband Desi Arnaz starred in the sitcom, I Love Lucy.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy in her garden ( Pinterest)

30. She loved to garden

Again, like a normal person, Lucy had hobbies outside of acting. She was an avid gardener who loved her plants. There was a beautiful garden in front of her Hollywood home that she was proud of and enjoyed tending. Lucy even refused to move at one point because she loved her home and garden so much.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy on Broadway (Pinterest)

29. While acting on Broadway she went by the name Dianne Belmont

Lucy was not always known as Lucy. During her modeling career, Lucy also began acting on Broadway. During her stage-acting days, she went by the name of Dianne Belmont. After she finished filming I Love Lucy, she returned to the stage in a production called Wildcat from 1960-1961. This time, she had no reason to use her old stage name because Lucille Ball was now a household name.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy at the Emmy Awards ( Pinterest)

28. Lucy was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards

It is no surprise that Lucy was nominated for numerous Emmy Awards due to the success of I Love Lucy. In addition to the Emmys she was also nominated for multiple Golden Globes, Kennedy Center Honors, and the Hollywood walk of fame. In her life, Lucy won at least four awards. Her husband, Desi, even won a Golden Globe Award for Television entertainment.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
One of Lucy’s Stars on the Walk of Fame (Pinterest)

27. She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In 1960, Lucy was nominated for the Hollywood Walk of Fame in two different categories. She did win both nominations that year and as such now has two stars on the walk, one for television and the other for motion pictures. Her TV star is located at 6104 Hollywood Blvd. But her motion picture star is located at 6436 Hollywood Blvd. There are other celebrities who have multiple stars at this Hollywood landmark, including Bob Hope, Roy Rogers, and Frank Sinatra. But Gene Autry wins the title for most stars on the Walk of Fame.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball- Smoking Ad (Amazon)

26. She was a heavy smoker

If you take a look at the episodes of I Love Lucy, you will be hard-pressed to find one where there is no mention of smoking or cigarettes. This is due to the fact that in order to begin shooting the tv show, Lucy and Desi needed a sponsor. This sponsor turned out to be the tobacco company, Philip Morris. Lucy was not happy about this, but not for the reason you might assume. She was already a heavy smoker, so it was not the smoking itself she had a problem with. Her choice in cigarettes was the issue… she preferred Chesterfields.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and Desi ( Country Living Magazine)

25. She filed for divorce after 20 years of marriage

When Lucy and Desi met on the set of Too Many Girls in 1940, they fell in love so fast, they eloped before the year was out. Remember, they were the first interracial couple to be shown on television, and the public perception was that they were happily married. It turns out, that before their famous sitcom was even an idea, Lucy had filed for divorce after only four years of marriage. However, the couple reconciled and went on to have two children and successful careers over the next 15 years. Unfortunately, their marriage did not last and Lucy again filed for divorce in 1960. Their union was complicated to say the least, but the two remained close friends until Desi’s death in 1986.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
(Pinterest)

24. Lucy was related to one of the settlers of the original 13 colonies

Lucy’s family history can be traced back over 200 years to the original settlers of the 13 colonies. She is rumored to be related to Elder John Crandall, who is one of the original founders of the thirteen colonies. She is also believed to be a descendant of one of the accused witches of the Salem Witch Trials.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
(WikimediaCommons)

23. Both Lucy and Desi lied about their ages

Lucy was, in fact, older than her husband Desi by six years. She was born in 1911, and he is in 1917. But for whatever reason, both of them decided to tell people that they were born in 1914. This would make her three years younger and him three years older, therefore meeting in the middle. They even lied about their ages on their Marriage Certificate!

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball (Pinterest)

22. It all began with a radio show

The original idea for what would become the I Love Lucy sitcom actually started with a radio show. Lucy was cast as a character named Liz on a radio program that began airing in 1948 called My Favorite Husband. She played a zany and outgoing wife which, in turn, inspired the character of Lucy Ricardo. The episode would progress into a minor crisis or problem, typically caused by one of Liz’s funny ideas. Each episode would end with the problem solved and Liz saying, “Thanks, George. You’re my favorite husband.” The production became an instant hit and CBS asked her to develop it into a TV show.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy’s Voter Registration ( Pinterest)

21. She was, at one time, a registered Communist

America’s sweetheart and favorite funny lady a communist? It can’t be true, right? Well, it is… technically speaking. An investigation into Lucy’s potential Communist ties was initiated by the United States government. Prior to the Cold War, America did have a designated Communist Party. According to Lucy and her family, they were not and had never been Communist, despite what their voter registration stated. They admitted to being registered as Communists, but they only did so to make Ball’s grandfather happy, as he was a devout believer in Communist ideology.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
(jamestowngazette.com)

20. Lucille Ball Comedy Festival held in her honor every year

Held each year in Jamestown, New York, is the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. The purpose of this festival is to support new up-and-coming comedians from her hometown. Lucy was to be honored at the first of these festivals to bear her name, but she, unfortunately, passed away before it took place. Since starting in 1991, this gathering has become a tradition for many as well as a right of passage for budding comedians. Some more famous names that have taken the stage as a part of this festival include Jay Leno, Ray Romano and Ellen DeGeneres.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Famous Grape Stomping Scene- (IMDB.com)

19. She almost drowned on set

Anyone who has watched an episode of I Love Lucy knows how eccentric and “out there” the character of Lucy Ricardo can be. An example would be a scene in the famous episode “Lucy’s Italian Movie”. Lucy was given a role in a movie that involves crushing grapes the old-fashioned way: by foot. She eventually gets into a grape throwing match with one of the more experienced grape crushers and a scuffle ensues. While hilarious to watch, it turns out while filming that scene, Lucille almost really drowned. The actress with whom she shot this scene did not speak or understand English very well. As such, she ended up holding Lucy’s head under the grape juice in which they were standing, for just a little bit too long. Almost drowning her in the process!

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy Pregnant on the set of I Love Lucy (Pinterest)

18. Lucy was the first pregnant woman to be filmed while pregnant

During the ’50s and ’60s, sex on TV was an absolute no-no. Alluding to it in any way, shape, or form was frowned upon and not really allowed. This included being pregnant on-screen because the only way you get pregnant is by doing the deed. Lucy, of course, did not care about these unspoken rules in the slightest. When she became pregnant, she did what no one before her had done and wrote the pregnancy into the script. This would make I Love Lucy the first American show to have a lead actress being shown while pregnant. Turns out, Lucy made the right decision. Because the episode “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” was viewed by over 70 percent of households in the country. The episode aired the same day that Lucille Ball gave birth to her son, Desi Arnaz Jr.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
George Reeves and Lucy ( syfy.com

17. She Demanded that Superman stay Superman

Over the years, Lucy became friends with many different celebrities and one of them was George Reeves. For those of you who don’t know, he was the original Superman. In one episode of I Love Lucy entitled “Superman”, Lucy promises her son Little Ricky that she will get Superman to come to his birthday party. Of course, shenanigans ensue. But George Reeves does appear much to the joy of Lucy and her son. During filming, Lucille Ball insisted on one thing: that George’s name appears nowhere in the episode credits. Why? Because she wanted any kids watching the show to keep believing that Superman was real.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and Ethel (Pinterest)

16. Lucy and Ethel were really best friends

Though they did not get along well at the beginning, the relationship between Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance was both loving and complex. To hear some tell it, they did not get along well at all and were constantly butting heads. Truth appears to be that, like any close relationship, it had issues and they did not always agree. However, their friendship was a genuine one that translated well on screen. Who didn’t want besties like Lucy and Ethel?

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
(Pinterest)

15. She is a four-time Emmy winner

Lucy won four Primetime Emmys, though she has a total of 13 nominations to her name. To many, this seems a little confusing especially since Lucy was a real Hollywood icon. She did win in 1953 for Best Comedienne, in 1956 for Best Actress-Continuing Performance, and for Outstanding Continued Performance by a Leading Actor in a Comedy in both 1967 and 1968. She was nominated for many other award categories that she did end up winning.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and Desi (New York Times)

14. Lucy and Desi got along even after they divorced

Lucy and Desi remained civil with one another after their marriage collapsed and their divorce was finalized. In fact, they remained pretty good friends despite Lucy’s accusations regarding Desi’s drinking and calling him a “nightmare” to live with. The couple managed to raise their children together and co-parent well. They remained close friends until Desi’s death in 1986. It appears these two never could forget their first loves.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy Ball (Pinterest)

13. She had a phobia of birds

We all have our fears, even the Hollywood elite. Lucy was petrified of birds; a fear scientifically known as ornithophobia. She reportedly developed this fear the day that her father died. Shortly after he passed away, a bird flew into the room where the family was mourning. As you can imagine, the trapped bird caused an intense, panic-filled scene to unfold. That, combined with the trauma of losing her father, resulted in Lucy suffering from this fear for the rest of her life.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Salem Witch Trials (Wikipedia)

12. She is rumored to be a descendant of one of the Salem witches

On top of being related to one of the original settlers of the United States, Lucy is also said to be a descendant of the persecuted Salem witches. She is the eighth great-granddaughter of William Towne, a man who fathered three accused witches. She is also the eighth great grand-niece of Mary Bradbury who was actually convicted during the Salem Witch Trials. Lucy falls into a group with other famous companies such as Mark Walburg, Clara Barton and even Walt Disney.

 

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Vivian Vance, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball at the Emmys (Pinterest)

11. I Love Lucy was always in the top three rankings

To say that Lucy’s first sitcom was a success is an understatement. In four out of the six seasons it aired, it was the most-watched show in the country. This show also managed to stay at the top of the Neilsen ratings the majority of the show’s run and remained there when it went off the air. I Love Lucy pulled in millions of viewers and maintained that stability through the show’s entire run. This is a pretty stellar accomplishment when you think about this time in American TV history as television was just starting to enter more households.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball and Leonard Nimoy ( me.tv.com)

10. Without her, there would likely be no Star Trek

If you are a Star Trek fan, you can thank Lucille Ball for the fact that you even know what it is. When CBS chose not to pick up Star Trek, Lucy stepped in and produced the pilot episode any way. Rejected again by NBC, the Peacock network decided they wanted a second pilot that featured William Shatner as Captain Kirk. It was that pilot that got Star Trek on TV in 1966. Star Trek is one of the crowning achievements of Desilu productions and went on to be one of the most popular series in television history.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
(Pinterest)

9. She did remarry

Though she remained married to Desi Arnaz for 20 years, Lucy did finally throw in the towel in 1960. Though she and Desi had their arguments, disputes and disagreements, they were still able to make a friendship work between them. They remained great friends until Desi’s death in 1986. Lucy married again and this time it was to a man named Gary Morton. Lucy must have really had a thing for younger men because Gary was 13 years her junior; more than double the age difference between her and Desi. She remained married to Morton until her death in 1989.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and her mother, DeDe ( Pinterest)

8. Her mom was on set for every episode

Following the death of her father at such a young age, it makes sense that Lucy and her mom, DeDe would be extremely close. They were so close in fact that DeDe was on set while Lucy filmed every single episode of her show. She sat in the live studio audience and watched proudly as her daughter brought so much joy to others.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and John Ritter ( Pinterest)

7. She loved Three’s Company

As a comedian herself, Lucy could obviously appreciate comedy in its many forms. She had a love for physical comedy in particular and fell in love with the tv show Three’s Company. Lucy became a big fan of the show and the lead actor John Ritter. She even got to appear in one episode and in turn John made an appearance on Life with Lucy.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Betty and Lucy (closerweekly.com)

6. She was besties with Betty White

How cute is this? Two of the funniest women on the planet and they are not simply actresses in Hollywood, they were best friends too. Despite the fact that there was a decade age difference between the pair, they formed an unlikely friendship. That bond grew once they got married and had families as they continued to hang out together. Their almost 40-year friendship only came to an end with Lucy’s untimely death in 1989.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Movie Posters ( Pinterest)

5. She had more than 50 movies under her belt

Because her career spanned multiple decades, it makes sense that she would have quite a number of movies to her name. Most would not guess that it is as high as 50, especially since she is more known for her TV appearances. Some of the movies she has to her name include: Follow the Fleet, Stage Door, and of course, Too Many Girls which is where she first met Desi Arnaz. She also starred in films with Henry Fonda, Bill Holden, and Bob Hope.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy and Luci ( Pinterest)

4. Her middle name was Desiree

Lucille went by many names during her career. Lucy Ricardo, Dianne Beaumont, Lucille Arnaz, Lucille Morton, and Lucy McGillicuddy to name a few. One name that does not get much recognition is her legal middle name, Desiree. As much as she changed her name, she must have liked her real name very much because she named her daughter after herself. Lucie Desirre Arnaz was born during the first season of I Love Lucy and has since followed in her footsteps into the entertainment business.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
I Love Lucy set ( Pinterest)

3. Her shows helped revolutionize the television broadcasting industry

Television production changed forever because of I Love Lucy. It made history as one of the first television shows to be filmed in front of a live audience. This show was also one of the first in Hollywood to use 35mm film to record the show from different angles simultaneously. Producing the show this way eliminated the need to shoot the same scene multiple times to get the right angles. It also cut down on the total amount of film being used as well. The use of three cameras soon became an industry standard that is still used today in front of live audiences.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
(goldenglobes.com)

2. She won the Cecil B. Demille Award

One of Lucy’s greatest achievements was being awarded the Cecil B. Demille Award in 1979. This honorary Golden Globe award is given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for contributions to the world of entertainment. She was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1986 as well.

40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball
Lucy as a brunette (goodhousekeeping.com)

 

1. Lucy was actually a brunette

Lucille Ball was not a redhead. At least not naturally. Convinced by MGM to change her natural color, Lucy traded in her natural brown locks for what would become her signature red hair do. At the start of the 50’s she began sporting her new do, which really isn’t exactly red either. According to her hairstylist, it was more of a ‘golden apricot’ color. Nevertheless, the hairstyle helped her become a household name and recognizable among the Hollywood elite. Turns out she loved the iconic hairstyle so much she wore her hair this way until she passed away in 1989.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources

Cheat Sheet – Lucille Ball ‘Hated Every Minute’ of Running Desilu Productions

Outside – ‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball Used a Sly Trick with Her Cigarettes to Please Sponsors

Cheat Sheet – ‘I Love Lucy’: When Did Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Divorce?

A Ball That Never Ends: Why We Still Love Lucy. Robert Cashill. Biography.com 2017

11 Things You Didn’t Know About Lucille Ball. Sam Escobar. Good Housekeeping. August 6, 2015

Biography – Inside Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s ‘Fantastic Romance’ and ‘Successful Divorce’

Cheat Sheet – Lucille Ball the Communist: Why the FBI Kept Tabs on the ‘I Love Lucy’ Star

Dark Secrets You Never Knew About Lucille Ball And Desi Arnaz’s Marriage, Chelena Goldman, Cheatsheet.com. April 29, 2019

Lucille Ball. Lucy Desi Museum, Jamestown, NY. Lucy-Desi.com

Lucille Ball. Ellisa Blattman. National Women’s History Museum. August 8, 2013

30 Reasons We Will Always Love Lucille Ball.Taylor Murphy. HouseBeautiful.com. October 15, 2015

Fox News – How Lucille Ball Went from Communist to Capitalist

Time Magazine – How I Love Lucy Changed How America Saw Motherhood

News Week – Star Trek Is Back, Here’s How Lucille Ball Once Saved the Show Loved by Many

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