Lucille Ball (August 6, 1911 - April 26 1989) was a comedian who played Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy. She was born in Celoron, New York, a small suburb of Jamestown -- which was also stated where she grew up on the show. Ms. Ball started her acting career in B-rated movies. She made $3,500 dollars an episode on I Love Lucy.

On I Love Lucy and DesiluEdit

In 1948, Ball was cast as Liz Cugat (later "Cooper"), a wacky wife, in My Favorite Husband, a radio program for CBS Radio. The program was successful, and CBS asked her to develop it for television. She agreed, but insisted on working with Arnaz. CBS executives were reluctant, thinking the public would not accept an All-American redhead and a Cuban as a couple. CBS was initially not impressed with the pilot episode produced by the couple's Desilu Productions company, so the couple toured the road in a vaudeville act with Lucy as the zany housewife wanting to get in Arnaz's show. The tour was a smash, and CBS put I Love Lucy on their lineup. The I Love Lucy show was not only a star vehicle for Lucille Ball, but a way for her to try to salvage her marriage to Desi Arnaz, which had become badly strained, in part by the fact that each had a hectic performing schedule which often kept them apart.

Along the way, she created a television dynasty and reached several "firsts". Ball was the first woman in television to be head of a production company: Desilu, the company that she and Arnaz formed. After buying out her by-then ex-husband's share of the studio, Ball functioned as a very active studio head. Desilu and I Love Lucy pioneered a number of methods still in use in television production today.

Desilu also hired legendary German cameraman Karl Freund as their director of photography. Freund had worked for F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, shot part of Metropolis (1927) and had directed a number of Hollywood films himself. Freund used a three-camera setup, which became the standard way of filming situation comedies. Shooting long shots, medium shots, and close-ups on a comedy in front of a live audience demanded discipline, technique, and close choreography. Among other non-standard techniques used in filming the show, cans of paint (in shades ranging from white to medium gray) were kept on set to "paint out" inappropriate shadows and disguise lighting flaws.

I Love Lucy dominated the weekly TV ratings in the United States for most of its run. In the scene where Lucy and Ricky are practicing the tango in the episode, "Lucy Does The Tango," the longest recorded studio audience laugh in the history of the show was produced. It was so long, in fact, that the sound editor had to cut that particular part of the soundtrack in half. The strenuous rehearsals and demands of Desilu studio kept the Arnazes too busy to comprehend the show's success. During the show's hiatus, they starred together in feature films: Vincente Minnelli's The Long, Long Trailer (1954) and Alexander Hall's Forever, Darling (1956).

Awards Edit

  • Best Comedian or Comedienne, 1952
  • Most Outstanding Personality, 1953
  • Best Female Star of Regular Series, 1954
  • Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series, 1955
  • Best Comedienne, 1956
  • Best Continuing Performance by a Comedienne in a Series, 1957
  • Best Continuing Performance (Female) in a Series by a Comedienne, Singer, Hostess, Dancer, M.C., Announcer, Narrator, Panelist, or any Person who Essentially Plays Herself, 1958
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