The Life and Times of Lucille Ball
"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." That quote was one that Lucille Ball lived by throughout her twisted and turbulent life. As one of the most recognized faces in the world, she is known to millions simply as Lucy. She went from waitress and salesgirl to model to Goldwyn Girl to radio clown to an unlikely leading lady in a ground-breaking sitcom that is still seen in regular syndicated reruns more than 40 years after the series ended. Beyond being a television legend, she was the first woman president of a major Hollywood studioa studio she co-founded. This is the life and times of Lucille Ball.
The eldest child of two, Lucille Désirée Ball was born August 6, 1911, in the small town of Celoron, New York, a suburb of Jamestown. Her father, Henry Durrell Ball, was a telephone lineman for the Bell Company, while her mother, Désirée (DeDe) Hunt, was often described as a lively and energetic young woman. While DeDe was pregnant with her second child, Frederick, Henry contracted typhoid fever and died in February 1915. During her childhood, Ball and her brother lived with their independent mother, grandmother and grandfather, Fred Hunt, who was an eccentric socialist who enjoyed theatre. He frequently took the family to local vaudeville shows (acts using music, costuming, and dialogue with comedy, juggling, magic, clowning, acrobatics, singing, mime, and dancing) and encouraged young Lucy to take part in both her own and school plays.
At fifteen, Lucille dropped out of high school, and with her mother's approval, enrolled in a school of theatre to study drama in New York City. Nervous and shy in a large city she despised, she lasted only six weeks at the school and returned home to Celoron. While waiting for her big break, Ball modeled under the name Diane Belmont until she was virtually bedridden for three years by rheumatoid arthritis. After her recovery, she returned to New York and was chosen by Liggett and Myers to promote cigarettes as "the Chesterfield Girl." Her entrance into the film industry came about when she accidentally ran into Sylvia Hahlo, a local theatrical agent, while walking up Broadway one day. Hahlo informed her of an opportunity to appear in Roman Scandals (1933), produced by Samuel Goldwyn. Ball auditioned and was hired as one of the twelve "Goldwyn Girls", though it was a small part as a slave girl.
Despite her talent, it was quite possible that Ball might never have progressed beyond a little-known actress if it weren't for meeting Desi Arnaz, a Cuban bandleader. He made his...