Saturday, May 13, 2023

I Love Lucy's Two Graves

"I have an everyday religion that works for me.  Love yourself first and everything else falls into line."

Lucille Desiree Ball was born in Jamestown, New York, on August 6, 1911.  Her father died unexpectedly when she was just three years old and her mother soon remarried.  Then in 1923, her stepfather encouraged her to audition for a stage show being produced by his Shriner's organization.  Ball took to the stage and never looked back.

She began her career as a model in 1929, but soon found herself on the Broadway stage.  Hollywood took notice, and she signed as a contract player with RKO Radio Pictures. She was often cast as a chorus girl in B movies of the time.

In 1940, Ball met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz.  They eloped just a few months later, becoming a power couple the likes of which Hollywood had never seen.  The marriage produced two children and an iconic television comedy series, I Love Lucy, which ran for six seasons and countless reruns.  The marriage wasn't meant to last however, and the two divorced in 1960.

In 1962, Ball returned to television with a new series, The Lucy Show.  She was joined by her longtime castmate and real-life nemesis Vivian Vance in a series that would also run for six seasons.  When it ended in 1968, she jumped right back in with yet another series, Here's Lucy, which like its two predecessors, ran for six seasons.

In 1985, Ball took a dramatic role, playing a homeless woman in the made-for-TV movie, Stone Pillow.  You can watch the film in its entirety on YouTube.  The following year, she returned to sit-com life with her final series, Life With Lucy.  Unlike its predecessors however, the new series failed to find an audience and was canceled after just one season.

By 1989, Ball's health was in decline. On April 18, she was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with a dissecting aortic aneurysm.  She underwent emergency valve replacement surgery, which ultimately bought her one more week of life.  She died on April 26th at the age of 77.

Ball was cremated and her ashes were initially interred at Forest Lawn Cemtery in Los Angeles.  Then in 2002, her family moved her remains to the family plot at Lake View Cemetery back in Jamestown.

Rest in peace.

  • Jamestown is also home to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum/National Comedy Center.

  • In 1987, Ball published her memoirs.  Pick up a copy of Love, Lucy from Amazon.

  • In 1937, Ball shaved off her eyebrows for a role in the film Roman Scandals.  They never grew back. (Editor's Note: The film is definitely a product of its time.)

  • Ball stated that I Love Lucy was the result of divine intervention, claiming that Carole Lombard, who died in 1942, came to her in a dream and said "give it a whirl."  

  • Trekkies the world over, including this blogger, will tell you that her company, Desilu Productions, produced the original Star Trek television series, which began in 1966.  The company also produced other TV hits, including The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible.

  • In 2002, Ball was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

  • As a favor to her grandfather, Ball was briefly registered as a communist.  No wonder she had red hair.

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