"I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.."
BIG HUGS & HUGE THANKS to Lucy fan Alison Hennings for her undying help, love, & devotion to this story!!
I LOVE LUCY! I really do!! If a dictionary were a pictionary .. i'd say it'd have to be MANDATORY to have Lucy's pic on there! I have never met anyone (including any other Hollywood historian) that really didn't think she was funny as hell!! The personality you saw ON screen - was what you got OFF screen. If she was at a party .. she WAS the life of it! One of those kind of talents who could be funnier in person than in the reading of a script written by someone else! Among all my favorite of Hollywood tales is on my bud, Scott from Find A Death's Lucy page, & is as told by Lucy's daughter in her book, .... 'Love, Lucy.'... "One of my mother's favorite things to do, when a small group of people were involved in some ordinary conversation, was to wait until one of them left the room and as soon as she returned, blurt out convincingly, "Here she is now! Why don'tcha tell her to her face?!!' What I would've given to be a fly on the wall at ANY party Lucy was at!! ....
'Lucy,' was born Lucille Désirée Ball, in Jamestown, New York, on August 6, 1911, in this home. Not long after Lucy came into the world, the family would move. Due to her fathers job, they moved ALOT! Twice before Lucy was thrice! First from Jamestown to Anaconda, Montana, then they were off to Wyandotte, Michigan. While in Michigan, Lucy's father contracted typhoid fever and died.
Her mother was preggers with her younger brother & moved her family to the grandparents hume in Celoron, New York. HONEST!!! The grandparents lived on Lucy Lane! Imagine the incredible coolness of that!!
From her beginnings, Lucy LOVED to entertain. Whether in front of an audience of one - or one million. As she recalls in an interview ..'I can't ever really remember actually wanting to be a performer as for a living. I didn't know there was such a thing! I remember hearing work hard, work hard .. to me entertaining was a craft .. a love of mine and was the easiest thing in the world as long as I had an audience!! I am a real ham. I love an audience. I work better with an audience. I am dead, in fact, without one." One day while doing some errands around the house .. her grandfather heard her (not just telling but) acting out a joke for some family members. Her grandfather who LOVED vaudeville, and took them to vaudeville shows, started encouraging Lucy to entertain. He encouraged young Lucy to take part in both her own and school plays, & let it be known that it was his grand-girl on the stage in the play.
By the time Lucy was 15 - she knew without a doubt what she wanted to to and set her goals on doing it! However .. before she could start, her mom started it for her. After finding out Lucy was dating a gangster - her mother sent her off to John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City. At first she was in heaven! Her schoolmate was Bette Davis (very, very cool!!) After two short weeks - Lucy returned home after her teacher at the school told her she "had no future at all as a performer". Lovely! Oh how I would have loved to see that teachers reaction when 'I Love Lucy,' rolled onto her tv screen!! AHHK! People like that get to me & most (as proven here) wouldn't know talent if it bit them in the ass! MmBUT she's a TEACHER!! Psshh!!
In 1929 .. She headed back to NYC to ***show her teacher how much of a cunt she was (***NO DOUBT, that's what she was thinking!) She garnered work as a fashion model. She gained huge praise for her modeling, however, became ill with rheumatoid arthritis and had to again return home. And once again in 1932 - she headed back to NYC to catch her goal and dream of being an actress. She wound up finding work as a fashion model for designer Hattie Carnegie and as the Chesterfield cigarette girl. From there it was - on to Broadway as Dianne Belmont. Not seeing the danger or the incoming asshole there, she was quickly fired by then part-time asswad/full-time Broadway theatre impresario Earl Carroll. Not long after Lucy left - for his 'habit' of firing girls 'on-a-whim'.. Protest against Mr.Earl, ,'broke OUUT!'
Ms. Lucy moved on, this time with her head up (and I like to think - her middle finger held high on her way out!) This last stint in NYC prompted her to head out west to California! Upon moving there & settling in this house .. Lucy almost immediately began getting bit parts in films as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures. She became known in Hollywood as "Queen of the B's." It was a title she didn't seem to mind. She knew that everything was just a stepping stone for bigger things to come!! By 1937, she was appearing regularly on The Phil Baker Show. From there, in 1938, she joined future Wizard of Oz tin man Jack Haley for the cast of The Wonder Show. It, unfortunately, only lasted one season.
1940, is when Lucy met Desi Arnaz while they were both filming on the same lot. The two immediately clicked like a clack and eloped that same year. Lucy was six years Desi's senior, and at the time, it was considered UN-acceptable to marry older. She wasn't yet in a position to say "screw y'all - I'm Lucy!', so they just lied - (white lie tho!!), as one does in those situations. It worked fine until facts were dissected by the press & their real age found out. Those damn press folk NEVER give up! The two were like childhood sweethearts & didn't care. Eeyre yah go! & as they quickly found out - the public really didn't either & the front page breaking story the press thought they had -turned to slop! YAY! For 8 years the couple continued to their entertainment affairs by day - and continued each other by night! Together they formed a production company called, 'Desilu.' Just a small, MINIscule non-interesting bump inna road fact - that in 1944 - Lucy filed for a divorce (no big deal) .. then retracted it after the 2 (Lucy & Desi) kissed & made up!! In 1948 - Lucy was cast in, 'My Favorite Husband', (NBC) but owned by CBS Radio. The show was a profound success prompting CBS to ask Lucy to develop it for television. Lucy insisted she would do it if Desi could play the tv hubby. CBS said 'no' .. Lucy said 'bye.' Instead they took the show on the road, vaudeville style. When this proved overwhelmingly successful, CBS put on their BEST ass-sucker pucker lips, & retracted to backtrack, called Lucy & said 'hey Lucy-goosey, we made a mistake & thought you'd like to know that - you & Desi are NOW in our line-up.. HEEEY!" Lucy then magically pulled her list-o-demands outta her purse!! (Atta girl!!) .. A) that when the show was over - ALL rights and royalties go to her and Desi. (NO DOUBT-causing CBS execs to kinnddly put her on hold - as they quickly changed their underwear!!) LUCY: HELLLLUUU??? and B) She (& she ALONE) ran the show and C) (by now - I am sure no doubt CBS were hyperventilating in a small bag!!) Me & Desi fund, produce, and run it together. After CBS regained composure (Lucy told 'em to take their time, bless 'er heart!), CBS caved & came back with their answer... EXCEPT for financial control for insurance reasons, WE GATS A DEAL, Lucille!! And "I Love Lucy,"(who can forget that title!?) was born.
While I literally LOVE LUCY.. **IT MUST BE NOTED WHERE NOTING IS DUE...
Whilst researching for this story - I found several stories saying Lucy was the first female head of a production company .. which is false info! It should be corrected to say 'America's Sweetheart,' Mary Pickford, was first & had 2 studios actually. Pickfair Studios (now known as, 'The Lot' & owned by Warner Bros), & United Artists (now owned by SONY Pictures.) Lucy WAS, however.. 2nd!! Which is pretty cool!! Eh??
Lucy & Desi moved here -on Roxbury! (looks like a shitty HOT mess nowadays .. gee, thanks new owners!)
Both Lucy & Desi were riding high with the new show. The show, however, proved to not be as successful in the ratings in the first broadcast. Thus, CBS insurance relinquished all financial rights back to Desilu. This has always been SO funny to me!! This proved invaluable when the show hit syndication. It took off like a socket rocket the second time and Lucy & Desi's production company reaped the benefits of the oodles and oodles of cash generated. The show was shot on Paramount's soundstage number 25 (which would also be the home to shows Bosom Buddies, Cheers, & Fraser.) .. both Lucy & Desi had cushy offices and a writing environment to die for! One show was even taken to Lucy & Desi's front doorstep. Cool side-note hurr - Before 'I Love Lucy,' all television shows were shot inside New York studios. Initially - CBS wanted to park the show in New York and have Lucy & Desi move there. After begging and offering to take a pay cut, and finance the equipment themself .. CBS caved. (I don't blame them haha) MmmBut - the show was instrumental in bringing tv shows from the confines of New York studios, to L.A. studios.
On July 17, 1951, one month before her 40th birthday and after several miscarriages, Lucy gave birth to her first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz. A year and a half later, Lucy was preggers again and wanted to do 'another' tv first. 'I Love Lucy,' was the number one show on television. She proposed to CBS that the show be in the hospital when she gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr...as the show had already written the pregnancy into the script. At first CBS was VERY reluctant at the idea of it's top hit show doing that on television. In those days studios had clergy-men on the payroll to consult in keeping a moral standard on television & movies. The clergy approved the show, & the network allowed the pregnancy storyline, but insisted that the word "expecting" be used instead of "pregnant". The episode was set to air with "Lucy Is Enceinte", (a French word for pregnant) as the title .. it was caught, however - & that title never appeared on the show. In another milestone for the show, the birth episode made the very first cover of TV Guide in January 1953. Their company continued to grow - becoming a beast in industry .. but also a major pain for both Lucy & Desi. Lucy stayed on edge more & more .. & Desi's drinking was spinning out of control. The two, that had ultimately become Hollywood's next Pickford and Fairbank sweetheart marriage, ended the way the Pickford Fairbanks marriage did .. in divorce on May 4, 1960 .. shortly after their final run that had become, 'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.' Desi found this condo .. & Lucy retained the hume (& the dawgs) in the divorce.
Desi never spoke in public of the divorce, but remained good friends with Lucy. Later in life - Lucy spoke of the divorce in an interview saying .. 'I hate failure and that divorce was a number one failure in my eyes. It was the worst period of my life. Neither Desi nor I have been the same since, physically or mentally.' Although Lucy & Desi remained friends - her relationship with her children was reportedly strained with ups and downs. Lucy went on with several projects after the divorce but they never would prove to have the success she had with Desi & their tv show. She did 'publically' reunite with Desi later on in their career - but it was to be for show only!! She tried reviving her career in the 80's & it was met with moderate success .. but it seemed principally due to who she was & used to be, rather than the great talent she still had to offer. In 1986, she was asked to dispel rumors of a new tv show & to give one piece of advice to young talents just starting in Hollywood. She said ..'I will never do another TV series. It couldn't top I Love Lucy, and I'd be foolish to try. [to young talent..] In this business, you have to know when to get on & get off." Lucy's last public appearance was the venue of the 1989 62nd Academy Awards. It was one month before tragedy struck, but you sure couldn't tell it!!
On April 18, 1989, Lucy was at home when she began complaining of chest pains. Paramedics were called & she was rushed to the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Diagnosed with a dissecting aortic aneurysm. She went through an emergency 8 hours of surgery. After the surgery - she had a 'virtually NEW'aorta thanks to a 27 year old donor (who I am sure woulda been tickled shitless that Lucille Ball got his aorta!) The surgery was successful, and Lucy, it seemed, had began recovering & even walking around her room with small assistance. It seemed all was well for almost 10 days until tragedy struck again. On the morning of April 26, Lucy awoke complaining of severe back ache. Her aorta had ruptured in a second location and Lucy quickly lost consciousness, never to regain it.. she was pronounced dead at approximately 05:47 PST. She was 77 years old. She was cremated & initially interred at Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills. However, in 2002 - she was moved to her hometown at the request of her daughter. She now rests beside her grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, & brother, in New York.
You can virtually visit her grave, leave flowers, and your comments here. RIP Lucy! Your distinctive laugh will always echo in Hollywood's shat-hills!
Big 'ol HUGE thanks to Hollywood Legends.net friend James McCann for the pic of her vacation home in Senoma, AZ .. who knew??