The Life, Family Life and Eventual Death of 20th Century Actress Lucille Ball

Almost every discipline in the world has names and personalities who have defied the norm with their accomplishments. Science has popular names like Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Nikolai Tesla. Their works brought both fame and prestige to the discipline. The story is no different in Hollywood where legends have come and gone. Some of them like Lucille Ball left an indelible mark that will forever be talked about.

Her contributions to Hollywood were too great to simply regard her as an actress. She was a superwoman who was everything Hollywood had to offer. Many are familiar with her work and her fame, just as the tale of her background and how she came to be one of the biggest Hollywood personalities to ever live has inspired a lot of people to hold on to their dreams.

Lucille Ball’s Childhood and Family Before She Became Popular

Many parents hope and pray that their child grows up to become a great person. Some go as far as peddling this belief onto their child every day of their life as they grow up. Judging from the level of her success, one would like to think that Lucille Ball’s parents, Henry Durrell and Desiree Evelyn Ball focused on the latter option. They had Lucille on the 6th of August 1911 in Jamestown, New York.

Growing up, Lucille lived in different parts of the country including Montana and Michigan, soaking in different aspects of American culture. She was raised as a Baptist and was born to an ethnic confluence of Scottish, French, English, and Irish origins.

Lucille suffered one of the most difficult tragedies a child could suffer at the age of three when she lost her father to typhoid fever. It was an incident she was too young to fully grasp, but the day’s emotional atmosphere left her permanently afraid of birds. Her father’s death left her to be raised by her mother and her maternal grandparents in New York.

Her mother eventually remarried to a man named Edward Peterson. Peterson would eventually expose Lucille Ball to stage performance and eventually, she would come to discover that it was a great way to earn praise and recognition.

Beginning Her Acting Career and The Struggles She Faced While Striving to Establish Her Name In The Industry

Lucille got her first introduction to acting at John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts. She was immediately fascinated with the possibilities and had big dreams but would have to face some challenges to attain them.

Her pursuit of an acting career suffered a two-year hiatus when she was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. She returned to acting in 1932 and worked on Broadway for a while before transitioning to the screens.

The actress got the first taste of onscreen work in 1933, starring as a Goldwyn Girl in Roman Scandals; she was uncredited for the role. Her full-time Hollywood career began in the mid-1930s when she starred in films like Three Little Pigskins and Room Service. For a while at the early stages of her career, Ball managed to only star in B movies, earning the undesired title of Queen of the Bs.

Lucille Ball and Dick Powell in 1944’s Meet the People: Image Source

The Actress’ Big Break Came Through a CBS Radio Show

After years of starring in second-tier films, Ball’s path to stardom began when she was cast as Liz Cooper in a show titled My Favourite Husband for CBS Radio. The show’s success on radio prompted the executive of CBS Network to request for a television version of the show.

Liz and her husband, Desi Arnaz, developed the television version under their production company, Desilu Productions Company. The show was picked up and it helped Ball become a superstar. The television version titled I Love Lucy was greatly received and helped Lucille Ball become one of the most powerful women in Hollywood.

She became the first woman to head a TV Production Company, with I Love Lucy as the most significant Television show during its run from 1951 to 1957. After she became a star, she went on to appear in numerous films and Television shows. At the time of her death, Lucille Ball had starred in over 80 films and more than 40 Radio and Television programs.

Awards and The Legacy She Left Behind

Lucille Ball received multiple awards while she was alive and has been recognized posthumously on several occasions. Lucile has two Hollywood Walk of Fame stars to her name, one for Films and the other for Television.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom after her death by President George H.W Bush. Other recognitions include a postage stamp by the United States Postal Service.

Most recently, in 2007, she was posthumously honored with the Legacy of Laughter Award of TV Land. While she was alive, she received numerous nominations for prestigious awards and bagged a good measure of the gongs; from Primetime Emmy to Golden Globes, American Comedy Awards, and many others.

Sometime in November 2017, she was named at the second spot on a list of 50 Greatest TV Icons. Her show I Love Lucy is widely regarded as one of the finest television shows in America’s history just as she is often named among the greatest TV stars of all time.

Lucille Ball’s First Marriage Was to Desi Arnaz and It Lasted from 1940 to 1960

Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (image source)

As a public personality, her relationships were in public display. She got married to Desi Arnaz in 1940. It is said that she met him while filming the Broadway musical comedy, Too Many Girls.

The two worked together and their union was blessed with two children named Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV and Lucie Desiree Arnaz. After years of starring together on I Love Lucy, the couple got divorced in 1960.

Desi’s addiction to alcohol and his infidelity were largely considered to be the factors that led to the end of the marriage. In his memoir, Arnaz acknowledged that their marriage suffered because of him. Based on what he related, managing their production company became too stressful as it expanded. Thus, he was pushed to embrace vices that would help him ease off the pressure.

Sometime in March 1960, the actress filed for divorce from Arnaz stating that their union had been a nightmare. The divorce was finalized that year but Arnaz and Ball remained friends until the former passed in 1986.

The Actress Got Married to Gary Morton In 1961

Her second husband was Gary Morton whom she met through her friend, Paula Stewart. The two were married in 1961 and remained married until her death in 1989.

Morton was an American stand-up comedian known mostly for his performances in New York. Before Ball, he had been married to another actress named Susan Morrow. And several years after Lucille’s passing, he married Susie McAllister, a professional golfer. Gary died of lung cancer at the age of 74 in 1999.

Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Was Ruled As The Cause of Her Death

Lucille Ball died on the 26th of April 1989 after a brief battle with dissecting aortic aneurysm that started on the 18th of April. Despite an open heart surgery that lasted 8 hours, she died at the age of 77.

Following her death, it was ruled that she died of cardiac arrest which happened suddenly and without warning as she had a positive response to the surgery she had.

She was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn in Los Angeles. After creating a television show that became the number one show in the country during its existence, and was a studio head and starred in over 100 films, radio and television projects, at the time of her death, Lucille Ball was worth $40 million.


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