August 06, 2009

Happy Birthday Lucy

Today is Lucille Ball's birthday, she would have been 98 years old today. Born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York.

Remembered as a dizzy sitcom redhead with show business aspirations, Lucille Ball was, in fact, a show business powerhouse and television pioneer. Throughout her teen years, Lucy tried unsuccessfully to launch her show business career, finally landing a spot as a Ziegfeld Girl. She launched her Hollywood career as one of the Goldwyn Girls, but she moved out from the crowd of starlets to starring roles. With "I Love Lucy", she and husband Desi Arnaz pioneered the 3-camera technique now the standard in filming TV sitcoms, and the concept of syndicating TV programs. She was also the first woman to own her own film studio as the head of Desilu.

She will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo. Her father died before she was four, and her mother worked several jobs, so she and her younger brother were raised by their grandparents. Always willing to take responsibility for her brother and young cousins, she was a restless teenager who yearned to "make some noise". She entered a dramatic school in New York, but while her classmate Bette Davis received all the raves, she was sent home; "too shy." She found some work modeling for Hattie Carnegie's, and in 1933 was chosen to be a Goldwyn Girl and appear in the film Roman Scandals (1933).

She was put under contract to RKO and several small roles, including one in Top Hat (1935), followed. Eventually, she received starring roles in B-pictures, and occasionally a good role in an A-picture, like in Stage Door (1937). While filming Too Many Girls (1940), she met and fell madly in love with a young Cuban actor-musician named 'Desi Arnaz'. Despite different personalities, lifestyles, religions, and ages (He was six years younger), he fell hard, too, and after a passionate romance, they eloped and were married in November 30, 1940. Lucy soon switched to MGM, where she got better roles in films such as Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), Best Foot Forward (1943), the Hepburn-Tracy vehicle Without Love (1945).

In 1948, she took a starring role in the radio comedy My Favorite Husband, in which she played the scatterbrained wife of a Midwestern banker. In 1950, CBS came knocking with the offer of turning it into a TV series. After convincing the network brass to let Desi play her husband and to sign over the rights to and creative control over the series to them, work began on the most popular and universally beloved sitcom of all time.

After her divorce from Desi on May 4, 1960, she married Gary Morton on November 19, 1961 and was with him until her death. On April 26, 1989, after recovering from surgery to correct cardiopulmonary problems, Lucy died unexpectedly at Cedars-Sinai Hospital of a ruptured aorta.

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