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|Lucille Désirée Ball|
|Birthplace||Jamestown, New York, U.S.|
Actress, comedienne, model, film executive
Ball, Lucille, 1911–89, American actress and producer, b. Celoron, N.Y. At first promoted by Hollywood as another glamorous movie star, Ball was often cast as a spunky sidekick in second features. In 1951, as one of the first movie stars to headline a television series, she scored a spectacular success with the comedy I Love Lucy, costarring her first husband, Desi Arnaz. For six seasons she was the most popular female star of the small screen, which was an ideal showcase for her comic energy, flair for slapstick, and gift for vocal mimicry. She went on to star in two subsequent but less successful sitcoms, the last of which ended in 1974. Ball also headed Desilu Productions (1962–67) and Lucille Ball Productions (1967–89). Her films include Stage Door (1937) and Mame (1974).
See biography by S. Kanfer, Ball of Fire (2003).
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(1910–) American comedienne; “unchallenged queen of scatterbrains.” [TV: “I Love Lucy” in Terrace, I, 383]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Ball, Lucille (Désirée)(1910–89) television comedian, movie actress; born in Celaron, N.Y. Leaving school at age 15 to become a stage actress, her early efforts were unsuccessful; she turned to modeling (as Diane Belmont) which led to her first movie role, in Roman Scandals (1934). She appeared in numerous movies and radio shows afterward but didn't become truly successful until 1951, when she teamed up with her Cuban-born, bandleader husband, Desi Arnaz, to play the zany middle-class couple, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in television's prototypical situation comedy I Love Lucy. With near perfect timing and a genius for sightgags, redhaired Ball careened through 179 episodes of the original sitcom as a ditzy housewife; the 1953 episode on which she gave birth to "Little Ricky," filmed to coincide with delivery of her real-life son, was said to attract more viewers than the concurrent inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Desilu Productions, which she and Arnaz founded in 1950, was a successful independent producer of television shows before Gulf-Western acquired it. After divorcing Arnaz in 1960, she appeared on Broadway in Wildcat (1961) and then soloed in two other successful sitcoms, The Lucy Show (1962–1968) and Here's Lucy (1968–73). She continued to appear on television specials almost to her death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.