Lucille Ball. Born in Jamestown Lucille went to New York City Lucille in pursuit of a career to act in films. She played many roles in the small movies during 1930s and by 1940s she was regarded as one of the ‘B-grade’ cine star. Lucille is acknowledged to be the hardest working person on the stage. She had yet to attain the place that would discharge her to super-stardom in films in spite of her performances. Ball gradually shifted her performance to a new medium of television after a couple of successful years of ‘My Favorite Husband’ along with Desi Arnaz, the contemporary Cuban band leader who later became her husband. Her debut television program was ‘I Love Lucy’. Ball felt perfectly accommodative in I Love Lucy where she could accomplish the true opportunity to exhibit her expertise on physical comedy simultaneously working with her loved one.
And ‘I Love Lucy’ became so successful which made it the No. 1-rated show on television and gave Lucille the much-awaited popularity. Love Lucy was regarded more a reality than a mere TV show and the Ball was regarded as the perfect star for the small screen. Her achievements were an inspiration for other actresses to follow. The paper shall further discuss on her work associated with ‘I Love Lucy’ and other programs which followed. She later entered into the filed of production after achieving heights in acting. The Desilu Productions was considered to be their own entertainment empire that she had built along with her husband, Desi Arnaz. However by the mid-1970s the soft lighting, the surgical tape ‘face lifts’, the skilled makeup and bright wig could not conceal her reducing physical flexibility or her enhanced reliance on cue-cards. In the final section, we shall make an analysis of the artist’s achievements and her downfalls.
Lucille Ball was regarded as one of the premier actress in American Television and considered to be the paramount women in the television world. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) She took her birth in Jamestown, New York and after the death of her father, was brought up by her employed mother and grand-parents. In pursuit of her career as an actress she went to New York City and succeeded in becoming a fashion model and chorus girl. She went to Hollywood in 1933 to act in films. She initiated her career as a Goldwyn Girl being a young contract artist for MGM, but initially did not attain remarkable accomplishment in films. She played many roles in the small movies during 1930s as a contract artist for RKO. (Lucille Ball: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) She accomplished less as a cine- actress for her role in Roman Scandals till 1933. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball)
However Lucille was the single most popular actress up to mid 1930s appearing in almost all the movies, often in the role of a nurse or dancer or a flower clerk or a college girl. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) During 1940s she was regarded as one of the ‘B-grade’ cine star and became a supreme and famous star in the world of television. She debuted in B. grade movies with outstandingly pretty look having a chestnut hair dyed blond and gradually elevated to classy fares like Stage Door, in that she held her own with Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball) In many of the Hollywood circles she was regarded as ‘the B-Movie queen’ who was co-partnering the ‘royalty’ honor with Macdonald Carey then known as the ‘King’. (Lucille Ball: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Irrespective of the fact that she was acknowledged commonly to be a true talent and fascinating performer, she had yet to attain the place that would discharge her to super-stardom. She exhibited seriously dramatic performance in her parts played in different films so as to dominant in the field of romantic lead. She could perform anything ranging from dramas, comedies to musicals. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) Buster Keaton, the great unspoken clown employed as a consultant at MGM acknowledged her comic qualities and worked with her on stunts. She had few opportunities to exhibit her skills in movies like DuBary Was a Lady with Red Skelton and Fancy Pants with Bob Hope but never broke through to the top. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball)
Lucille’s true skill revealed only after her role on the radio show, ‘My Favorite Husband’, a situational comedy on representing a housewife that was always getting into trouble. Irrespective of invisibility of the beauty and grace of Ball over the airwaves the perfect comic timing and tone appeared to stigmatize the audience. Her skill extended to express all of the idiosyncratic awkwardness of physical comedians like Keaton, Chaplin or the Marx Brothers with a pause, a hesitation or a firmly asserted absurdity and much praised by her audience. Ball gradually shifted her performance to a new medium of television after a couple of successful years of ‘My Favorite Husband’ along with her husband Desi Arnaz, the contemporary Cuban band leader. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) She met her husband in the stage of Too many Girls in 1940 that encouraged her to play on television. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball)
Thus with about two decades of experience in cine world Lucille moved to small screen with an eventual transformation from the platinum blonde glamour symbol to a wise cracking redhead. Her debut television program was ‘I Love Lucy’. ‘I Love Lucy’ had a glorious debut in October 1951, when it was visualized initially as distinguishable from other domestic comedies that were begun to transform from radio to TV. With her flexible expressions, jesting skills and unique oral talents she dominated the airwaves for the next two and half decades through a series of comedies. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) Further in the perspective of production the using the real film at the time of production rather than creating a second quality kinescope like the most TV shows resulted in rebroadcast through syndication. In the suiting of ‘I Love Lucy’ the ‘3-camera setup’ was first introduced by Desi Arnaz which has been a paradigm in the present days. The cans of paint indicating the technique to make the shades range from white to medium gray was resorted to with a view to painting out the unsuitable shadows and mask the lighting flaws. (Lucille Ball: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The program ‘I Love Lucy’ was not only remarkable in sphere of her star career, but also a mode of her attempts to solemnize the marriage to Desi Arnaz, which was adversely overwrought with the busy suiting program of both. (Lucille Ball: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Lucille Desiree Ball acted in I Love Lucy as a comedian. Ball felt perfectly accommodative in I Love Lucy where she could accomplish the true opportunity to exhibit her expertise on physical comedy simultaneously working with her loved one. This accomplishment of love and work and the people resulted in a unique and more individualistic type of star previously unknown to the television world. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) To most of the Americans, the witnessing of television set every week had become an objective to watch how her performance was improving. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org)
During the four seasons out of six, the serial ‘I Love Lucy’ became the No. 1-rated show on television; during 1952-53 it reached the pinnacle with an average of incredible 67.3 rating, implying that more than two thirds of all homes with TV sets were tuned to Lucy in the typical Monday nights. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball) Each of the new episodes was highlighting different aspect of everyday life, infusing wittiness in our dreams and frustration. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) In those early I Love Lucy episodes Lucy Ricardo was only a daffy house. The show continued to be shaped and improved to become a great comedy with the comic luminosity of the Ball. The idiosyncrasy and eccentricity of the Lucy depicted in terms of her thriving to be in show biz, her crazy schemes that always backfired, the constant fights with the Mertzes has become a unique and popular face across the dinner table. Love Lucy was regarded more a reality than a mere TV show and the Ball was regarded as the perfect star for the small screen. She proclaimed that she looked like an actress in consonance with the conception of everybody to that effect however she herself felt more like a housewife. Like Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason regarded as big men with larger than life personas, Lucy was regarded as one among us. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball)
Presently, I Love Lucy is often discarded as an antique with its ludicrous plots, broad physical humor and conventional image of marriage. However, the show has been an illustration of non-evasive perfection of a crystal chalice. She was able to explore the common themes in all its comic hyperbole and the tensions of married life, the cash between the career and home, the meaning of loyalty and friendship. The serial also depicted the most important social phenomenon of the decade. In the serial the Ricardos had a positive part in the baby boom in January 1953. The fictional child Little Ricky took his birth on the same day that Ball gave birth, by caesarean to her second child, Desi Jr. The journey to California was symbolized as the turning of the nation towards west in a side-splitting series of shows that exemplified our conception of and obsession with Hollywood glamour. With the movement of nation to the suburbs the Ricardos also moved in their last season. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball)
Her skills of jesting were associated with the styles of the silent comics and Buster Keaton, with whom she was allied at the time of her incumbency at MGM. Those had a marked impact on the daring pursuits of Lucy, hang-dog expressions and direct looks at the audience. Irrespective of the fact that she personally ignited the prodigy that much of her performance was spontaneous, in reality, all her move was choreographed. She used to spend much of her time practicing a particular schedule prior to including it into her programs to become accomplished perfectionists. Her rubbery facial expressions were so distinct that the scriptwriters for I Love Lucy indicated them in terms of particular code word notations. To illustrate the prompt muddling led the star to stop for a moment with large tearful eyes and then to burst into a loud cry. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com)
The ‘Light bulb’ indicated to depict a sudden theme while the recommendations led the star to stare in astonished resentment. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) Similarly, one of the most significant things that Lucy proved was that women could be funny and attractive simultaneously which has become an innovative concept of the day. She could carry out the most disgraceful of jesting schedules and still be womanly. This was more peculiarly commendable taking for granted that Lucy was beautiful enough to become a traditional film star and really become a Hollywood movie sensation as ‘Queen of the B-Movies’. She gradually moved to become the persona of a cool beauty rather than bringing out a chance to get a laugh. She never cared to appear foolish, silly or even ugly for the sake of a good muffle and her audience loved her for it. Confirming the success of this formula she showed the path for generation of funny women to enter into. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com)
The faint red head of Ball with flexible face and saucer eyes, she was visualized as a paradigm by the number of comic TV females to patronize. She and her performance could assist in defining a still promising medium. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball) The success of Carol Burnett, Roseanne, Gilda Radner, Cybill Shepard, Mary Tyler Moore and Candace Bergen acknowledged the contributions of the amazing Lucy. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com) The extraordinary use of props and imaginative flights of Lucy from the most improbable situations tuned the prospective stars like Penny Marshall, Bronson Pinchot, Ellen Degeneris, and Robin Williams, whose styles have a marked indication of the impact of her performance. While her performance is particularly praiseworthy it was the role of Ball that restructured the television programming that emphasize its significance. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) The brand of comedy depicted by Lucy often considered being little rough. A good clout is revealed in her fake slapping fight with an associate candy wrapper in the popular episode of ‘candy factory’. A similar clash was appeared in an Italian grape stomping scene. Later on Lucy admitted of her fearfulness of drowning up in the vat of grape juice while other actress became a bit too enthusiastic. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com)
Love Lucy was considered unique in that it was one of the fist television programs to form a film live with utilization of multiple camera technique before a studio audience. The continuous attribute of the program permitted the permanency that allowed Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz to benefit from re-runs syndication and foreign distribution. The program was outstandingly successful attaining the position by February of its initial year and became a premier one during the four of six years on the air with a share of 67%. Telecasted in more than one hundred countries the serial became most lucrative in meeting the expenses of Desilu Studios, organized by Lucy and her husband as Vice President and President respectively. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) Lucy was also thus perceived to be one of the most elegant actresses in the industry of entertainment. (Lucille Ball: www.girlpress.com) It was during a time when most of the entertainers were gradually migrating to the studio or network systems that she could own and regulate one of the most flourishing television production studios in the history with her uniqueness, popularity and determination along with the technical and financial expertise of her husband. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne)
Desilu studios continued to become the centre of production for greatest hits of television programs during 1950s and 1960s that incorporates Our Miss Brooks, Make Room for Daddy, the Dick Van Dyke Show, the Untouchables, Mission Impossible, Mannix and Star Trek. Of course, it was the clout of Lucille Ball with the CBS network that influenced them to pick up the latter three pilots. The success of Ball in her debut serial I Love Lucy gifted her with enormous energy which most of the contemporary entertainers were denied of. She was one of the few television stars of 1950s succeeded in struggling against the Communist witch hunts of HUAC while her career was tried to be destabilized by a program of Walter Winchell in1953. The celebrated film stars like Orson Welles, William Holden and Joan Crawford those previously avoided television started to appear in guest appearances with a view to working with the Queen of prime time. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne)
The reputation of Lucy at the press and her fans compelled CBS authorities to agree to her decision to bring out her real life pregnancy in the second phase of the show. The television was first watched meticulously by a trio of clergy those oversaw each of the script. The timorous CBS authorities were emphasized on using the word ‘expectant’ instead of ‘pregnant’ the seven episodes narrated about the pregnancy of Lucy illustrating her own physical conditions. Accumulating the five more episodes for use after her recovery from delivery the program concentrated on her due date, so as to coincide her television program delivery with her real life Caesarean delivery. The episode had a rating 71.1 attracting the viewers compelling to tune their TV sets to witness the birth of fictional Lucy Ricardo considered even greater in number than that of the Eisenhower’s inauguration. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) By the mid 1970s she had appeared in three additional series for CBS. The third serial-‘The Lucy Show’ could able to earn the highest bid of $2.3 million for a thirty minute series ranging to the total of 30 episodes. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne)
Lucille is acknowledged to be the hardest working person on the stage. She exhibited a form of comedy regarded as highly energetic and required a great deal of physical efforts. Even at her pregnancy her fellow actors could recall her leaving of stage for a few minutes and returning back to start again. She was regarded as far more than a clown. Her flexible facial expressions stored the whole record of emotions, her comic timing was matchless, and her devotion to the truth of her character never was highlighted. She depicted herself to be a relentless perfectionist. To illustrate, even in trivial scenes like popping of a paper bag, she used to spend about three hours examining the bags so as to ensure the appropriate size and sound. (Zoglin, Lucille Ball) Lucille attained four Emmy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Citation from Kennedy Center and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an Emmy Award winner for five times she became the first actress to be incorporated in the Hall of Fame of the Television Academy. She was awarded with Genii Award and a Kennedy Center Honor and with all these awards she became the most beloved star of the small screen and also was acknowledged the most. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com)
With a successful telecast of ten years she felt the pressures of the industry and public life to a great extent that resulted in closing down of the show by Arnaz and Ball and ultimately their separation. She became the president of Desilu instantly and within a short span of time revived to come back to television. Firmly committed to remain attached to her well loved character she created a new serial-‘The Lucy Show’ where she got an opportunity to work with Vivian Vance a co-star of I Love Lucy. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) It is felt quite impossible to undermine the significance of the Lucille Ball to the new medium. With her profound experience in Hollywood, she could generate great enthusiasm in the artists having on-screen and off-screen talents to be inducted in her show, that included, Karl Freund, the cinematographer for ‘Metropolis’ of 1926 and Oscar-winner for ‘The Good Earth’ of 1937. Freund contributed a lot for their utilization of film on the show along with the 3-camera technique later introduced in films by Hitchcock. Lucy could succeed in convincing the Hollywood actors and actresses to appear on her program irrespective of their hostile attitude towards television shows facilitating such migration of other stars. (A Tribute to Lucille Ball)
The Lucy Show could succeed in running successively for twelve years even though could never able to accomplish the heights of I Love Lucy. Ball could search out the key to success of televisions and generated a character that the Americans found indispensable. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) While ‘The Lucy Show’ was telecasted, Ball was engaged in reformulating the show and starring in yet another series concentrating on the same character. “Here’s Lucy,” was immediately approved by the networks and became prime time telecast up to 1974. At this moment Ball found it worthwhile to divert and began performing outside lines of comedy. She was rewarded with enthusiastic reviews for her acting on Broadway in ‘Wildcat’ of 1961s. With continuance of the success Ball co-starred Bob Hope for two feature films and acted with Henry Fonda in the critically acclaimed, “Yours, Mine and Ours” (Lucille Ball biography) Thus the accomplishments of Ball in form of more than seventy films, hundreds of television appearances and struggle of running a studio that could succeed in producing major television series like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek, depicts her true understanding of the potentialities of television even prior to the understanding of itself. She could visualize that the TV show could be able to entail the excitements of the variety show and the wonder of movies and is in direct intimacy of the homes of people with the intimacy of radio. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org)
During the mid 1960s the Desilu was sold to Gulf and Western for $17 million and she formed Lucille Ball Productions with her second husband, Gary Morton as vice president. Her final CBS series, Here’s Lucy, however, was not viewed as successful as her earlier was responsible for debut of her children Lucie and Desi Arnaz, Jr. And for attracting Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton into the situation comedy. By the mid-1970s the soft lighting, the surgical tape ‘face lifts’, the skilled makeup and bright wig could not conceal her reducing physical flexibility or her enhanced reliance on cue-cards. The series ‘Life with Lucy’ of 1986 by ABC was perceived to be reinforced and filling and continued for a mere 13 weeks. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne)
However, in her decline also there were indications of sparking brilliance. She astonished the critics and fans in 1985 by appearing as a homeless woman in the CBS made-for-TV movie Stone Pillow. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) Eventually, Lucille was a premier actress in the television world and became one of the premier stars to record before a live audience. ‘The Lucy Show’ was her next TV Program after ‘I Love Lucy’. ‘The Lucy Show’ was renamed as “Here’s Lucy.” Later in 1986 she acted in ‘Life with Lucy’ that was unfortunately a serious and popular flop. Lucille Ball had spent much of the rest of her life out of the focus. Her appearance in 1989 Academy Award was regarded as the last public appearance. (Lucille Ball biography) Lucille died on April 26, 1986 and was buried in the Forest Lawn — Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, and her children, Desi Arnaz, Jr. And Lucie Arnaz later shifted to the Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York. (Lucille Ball: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Lucille was praised by her fans, network executives, and even the President of United States at her death in 1989. Taking into consideration influence in restructuring the television production, Ball was most flamboyantly recalled as a series of black and white images. Remembrance of Lucile Ball involves an abundance of universal images of magical mayhem- like a losing struggle with a candy conveyor belt, a blazing nose, a slippery vat of grapes — the images that contradict the most American situational comedy excelling nationalities and generations in an absolute model of side-splitting jesting. (Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne) Thus withdrawing her almost completely from the cine world, she shifted to the small screen and became a dominating figure in the medium. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org)
The role she played in all her television programs was perceived to be beautiful, zany, inept and talented. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com) Lucille cultured a personal outlook that was consistent with the television characteristics and in doing so cracked down one of the most remarkable impediment between actor and audience. She became attached to the network so intensively as to become unique among the actresses before or after her. Being pregnant of with her second child she preferred to act a role of pregnant women and on the delivery day of Desi Junior she could deliver her fictional child on the TV serial. Most regard her as a great symbol of the changing times and showered her with gifts and letters on her personal and public accomplishments. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org)
To conclude, the accomplishment of Lucille Ball made her known as an era of entertainment. The classic TV and movie features that she generated were regarded as her most significant bequest. This is the reason which made her beloved even after half a century. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com) Ever since the debut of I Love Lucy in 1951, oh-so-human role of Lucille Ball had enchanted the small screen and it was become a testimony of her imaginative talent which made the television serials unthinkable without her. (Lucille Ball: www.pbs.org) She demonstrated the rise of a crowd leggy starlet to become the owner of a film studio initially being a Ziegfeld Girl and a Goldwyn Girl. (A Tribute to Lucille Ball) On the path of her accomplishments she made herself exhibit as an excellent comedienne, constructed a small Hollywood empire, and even brought to the screen some obsolete notions of women. However, it has hardly been observed of any of that amidst our preoccupation in laughter. She left with a huge fan that venerated her as an American icon at her death in 1989. (Lucille Ball:www.girlpress.com)
‘A Tribute to Lucille Ball” Retrieved from http://www.classicmovies.org/articles/aa080501a.htm Accessed on 11 December, 2004
“Ball, Lucille: U.S. Actor/Comedienne” Retrieved from http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/B/htmlB/balllucille/balllucille.htm Accessed on 11 December, 2004
“Lucille Ball biography” Retrieved from http://fl.essortment.com/lucilleballbi_rtkn.htm Accessed on 11 December, 2004
“Lucille Ball” Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/ball_l.html Accessed on 11 December, 2004
“Lucille Ball” Retrieved from http://www.girlpress.com/lucille_ball.htm Accessed on 11 December, 2004
“Lucille Ball” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_Ball Accessed on 11 December, 2004
Zoglin, Richard. “Lucille Ball” Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/time100/artists/profile/lucy.html Accessed on 11 December, 2004
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