One of the most beloved comediennes of all times, Lucille Desiree Ball, left an impact on the business and entertainment industries that endures still today. Speaking of her profession, Ball once said, “You cannot teach someone comedy, either they have it or they don’t.”
Born in Jamestown, New York, Lucille Desiree Ball left her hometown at the age of fifteen to study drama in New York City and began her early entertainment career with stints as a model and Goldwyn Girl. Making her film debut in 1933, Ball became known as the “Queen of the B’s” for her numerous roles in B-movies. She appeared in more than 75 films even before starting the show that would ultimately change the face of entertainment.
In 1951, Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz, launched a comedy television series, I Love Lucy, based on their own lives. The show pioneered technical aspects of a comedy show, using three cameras, a set, and a live audience. It was also the first time a visibly pregnant woman was seen on television. The show became the launching pad for the endearing comic genius of Ball.
Proving that her talents extended beyond the realm of comedy, the entrepreneur became the first female studio head in Hollywood. As president of Desilu Productions, she broke the glass ceiling for women executives in the film and television industry and her shows live on in syndication.
Ball went on to garner thirteen Emmy nominations and four Emmy Awards for her work. In 1986, she received a Kennedy Center Honor for her contributions to the world of entertainment. In 1989, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Many of today’s comediennes and actresses still count Ball as a mentor and influence and her legacy of laughter and business acumen continues to inspire.