“You cannot teach someone comedy; either they have it or they don’t.” – Lucille Ball
When I think of women in film history my thoughts inevitably turn to the queen of comedy, Lucille Ball. I grew up watching reruns of I Love Lucy with my mom, and I think it’s because of her that slapstick seems so funny to me. She was the best.
Lucy and her production company, Desilu, have established milestones in television history, being the first to air rebroadcasts of I Love Lucy, making syndication a profitable new way for viewers everywhere across the country to watch the show, and bring new life to old material. I Love Lucy has never gone out of syndication and has been viewed by millions, spanning the globe and generations, and Desilu’s gamble was instrumental in drawing television production from New York to Hollywood for the next several decades. The show also dominated the ratings for almost the entirety of its run.
Lucy had one of the longest running careers in Hollywood, both in television and radio. She became the first woman to run a major television studio and Desilu has produced numerous popular TV shows.
Lucy was one of the first to receive the Women in Film Crystal Award; was nominated for an Emmy thirteen times and won four; was honored with the Cecil B.DeMille Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Lucille Ball has been seen in films with stars such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (my personal favorite dance team), Katherine Hepburn, the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges. She’s been a Goldwyn Girl and a Ziegfeld girl and owned the crown for Queen of the B’s, taking that title from Fay Wray.
In Lucy’s personal life, while she and Desi Arnaz had a strained marriage ultimately ending in divorce, they remained close friends until Desi’s death in 1986. They had two children, Lucie Desiree Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Lucille Ball paved the way for the Carol Burnette’s and the Tina Fey’s, elevating them to something more than funny ladies. They are intelligent and business-minded – and they make us happy.
Lucy was Desi’s favorite red-head, but she’s my favorite Nice Girl in History.