Lucille Ball: Unpublished Photos 'I Love Lucy': LIFE on the Set
Sure, we all loved Lucy, but which one? The rubber-faced Lucy Ricardo of her classic TV sitcom I Love Lucy, undoubtedly. But what about Lucille, the struggling but determined Hollywood starlet who spent two decades lingering in B-movie purgatory? Or the powerful Ms. Ball, the behind-the scenes TV pioneer and the medium's first major female executive? Truth is, Lucille Ball (who was born 100 years ago this week, on August 6, 1911) lived several fascinating lifetimes -- many of them captured by LIFE's photographers on her way up the showbiz ladder.
Here, LIFE.com presents the best never-published photos of Lucy from the magazine's archives -- including this surprisingly sultry 1942 portrait by John Florea, taken when Ball was known as "Queen of the B's" for the string of subpar films that failed to make her a star. Years of dues-paying hard work are apparent in her eyes -- yet there is something innocent, too, an optimism that her big break is just around the corner.