Lucille Ball – Queen of Comedy

Day 91 of Colourisation Project – August 6

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

You really don’t need me to tell you that Lucille Désirée Ball, born this day, August 6, 1911 was an American actress, famous for her insanely funny sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy and Life with Lucy. Ball had one of Hollywood’s longest careers and for three decades reigned as Hollywood’s funniest lady.

The first thing you do need to know about Ball is that she was born a brunette. In 1942, at the age of 31 she was cast in the film DuBarry Was a Lady, where she was asked to dye her hair a flaming red color. She did and she never went back.

Lucille Ball

Publicity still – Lucille Ball 1942 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

The second thing is that during the 1933 filming of Roman Scandals, young Lucille Ball, portraying a slave girl, was required to have her eyebrows entirely shaved off for the part. They never grew back.

Ball started out on Broadway in 1929 using the stage name Diane Belmont. In 1933 after that small uncredited part as one of the Goldwyn Girls in Roman Scandals, which cost her her eyebrows, she moved permanently to Hollywood to pursue a career in film. During the 1930s and 1940s she came to be known as the ‘Queen of the Bs’ (referring to her many roles in B-films) working for RKO Radio Pictures, where she was usually cast as a chorus girl or something similar.

It was in TV during the 1950s that her career stepped up a notch. Along with her then husband, Cuban bandleader, Desi Arnaz she created the television series I Love Lucy. Ball was ahead of her time. Not only was she the first woman to own her own film studio, but her studio was the first to use three cameras at the same time to capture all the action from different angles in the production of I Love Lucy.

It was also the first television show filmed in front of a live studio audience and the first show to feature a pregnant woman. Ball and Arnaz had two children, Lucie Désirée Arnaz. and Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr. Ball and Arnaz wrote the pregnancy into the show and both children later appeared regularly in the show.

Ball’s pregnancy however presented several challenges from CBS. They insisted that a pregnant woman could not be shown on television, nor could the word ‘pregnant’ be spoken on-air. Eventually the network allowed the pregnancy storyline, insisting that the word ‘expecting’ replace ‘pregnant.’ The episode’s official title borrowed the French word for pregnant; Lucy Is Enceinte. Not surprisingly episode titles never appeared on the show.

In 1962, Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu, which produced many successful and popular TV series such as Mission: Impossible TV series, Star Trek, The Untouchables, My Three Sons, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show.

Ball continued making film and television appearances up to her death. She had become one of Hollywood’s most celebrated personalities and received many prestigious awards throughout her long career, some of which are listed below.

  • Ball was nominated for an Emmy Award thirteen times, and won four times.
  • Hollywood Women’s Press Club Golden Apple Award: Star of the Year, 1973
  • Ruby Award, 1974
  • Entertainer of the Year Award, 1975.
  • Friar’s Club Life Achievement Award, 1977
  • Ball was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Award in 1977
  • Hollywood Foreign Press Association: Cecil B. De Mille Award, 1978
  • Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979.
  • Television Academy Hall of Fame Inductee, 1984.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986
  • Hasty Pudding Award: Woman of the Year, 1988
  • Governor’s Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989
  • Television Critics Association Annual Career Achievement Award, 1989
  • On February 8, 1960, Ball was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one at 6436 Hollywood Boulevard for contributions to motion pictures, and one at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard for television.
  • Ball was among Time magazine’s 100 Most Important People of the Century.
  • Ball appeared on thirty-nine covers of TV Guide (more than any other person), including the very first cover in 1953 with her baby son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.
  • TV Guide voted Lucille Ball as the Greatest TV Star of All Time.
  • TV Guide commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of I Love Lucy with eight collector covers.
  • TV Guide named I Love Lucy the second-best television program in American history, after Seinfeld.
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously) in 1989
  • Women’s International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award (posthumously) in 1990
  • Named by Ladies Home Journal Books as one of the ‘100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century,’ in 1998
  • Recognized as one of the Most Influential Western New Yorkers of the 20th Century by Buffalo television in 1999
  • Selected by Newsweek as the Top Female Entertainer of the 20th Century in 2001
  • Inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, 2001.
  • She was awarded the Legacy of Laughter award at the fifth Annual TV Land Awards in 2007.
  • I Love Lucy was named the Greatest TV Series by Hall of Fame Magazine.
  • Chosen as the second out of the 50 Greatest TV Icons, after Johnny Carson in 2007
  • On August 6, 2011, to honour her 100th birthday, Google put up an interactive doodle on its homepage displaying six classic moments from the I Love Lucy sitcom.

There is a Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center museum in Lucy’s hometown of Jamestown, New York, where The Little Theatre was renamed the Lucille Ball Little Theatre to honour Jamestown’s most famous resident.

On April 26, 1989, Ball suffered an aneurysm and died at the age of 77.


“One of the worst things the studio people did was shave off my eyebrows. We were all trying to look like Jean Harlow. Now God forbid that I should ever find myself on a desert island without an eyebrow pencil. It’s the first thing I reach for every morning. The only woman who managed to grow her brows back again was Ginger Rogers, and even then it took her years.”    –  Lucille Ball

This entry was posted in Black & White, Colorization, Colourisation, Film, Photography, Television, Women, Women in Film & TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lucille Ball – Queen of Comedy

  1. Pingback: Betty Grable – Pin Up Girl | Random Phoughts

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