Lucille Ball has made significant and positive contributions to the country with her comedy. Many consider her America’s best female actress. Kathleen Brady, in fact, says, “Lucille Ball is one of the greatest performing artists America has produced” (ix). Throughout her career, Ball has not only been a comedienne, but also a superb businesswoman, an excellent role model, and has won numerous awards.
Lucille Ball’s major contribution has been as a comedienne. Not only was she the star of the world renowned television show, I Love Lucy, but she has also performed on radio, in films, and even on Broadway. Ball had an extraordinary personality. “In short, Lucille Ball’s unique brand of wacky physical comedy made her the queen of TV. . .” (Dziemianowicz 54). Her hit television show, I Love Lucy, was one of the most watched television shows of all time. The success of I Love Lucy was due mostly to Ball’s comic brilliance (Zoglin 188). “With near perfect timing, and a genius for sightgags, red-haired Ball careened through nineteen episodes of the original sitcom as a ditzy housewife” (Biography 1). Her show was so successful and popular that, “the 1953 episode on which she gave birth to ‘Little Ricky’. . . was said to attract more viewers than the concurrent inauguration of President Dwight D Eisenhower” (Biography 1). Her impact was so great that even today, everyone knows that “Lucy Ricardo, of course, achieved eternal life” (Brady 342).
Prior to her television success, she also had much success on her radio show My Favorite Husband. The show was a comedy based on based on “the delightful stories of Isobel Scott Rorick’s gay, sophisticated Mr. & Mrs. Cugat, starring Lucille Ball with Richard Denning” (Brady 159). The show soon became a hit, thanks to Ball’s humor. “Just before Christmas 1948. . . General Foods agreed to sponsor My Favorite Husband to promote Jell-o” (Brady, 160)
In addition to radio success, Ball was also a wonderful actress. Ball was not discovered as an actress until she acted in the films Dance Girl, Dance, and The Big Street. When she did act in these movies, she played minor, serious roles. So when she was discovered, people didn’t even know how funny she was but the world would soon find out.
When Ball finished with her weekly television shows, she turned her attention to Broadway and starred in such plays as Mame, and Wildcat. After her split with Desi Arnaz, “Lucille Ball at last realized her dream of Broadway success, opening in the musical comedy Wildcat on Dec. 16, 1960” (Moritz 34). Clearly her talents were varied.
In addition to being an exceptional comedienne, Ball was a superb businesswoman. While she was married to Desi Arnaz, she and Arnaz bought out RKO radio station, and changed its name to Desilu. After she and Arnaz divorced, Lucy bought all of his shares of Desilu (Moritz 34). This was very uncommon for women to do at this time. It was very rare that women even had any say about what was going on. This proved her strength as a woman. When she was ready to sell Desilu, Ball made a handsome profit from selling the company for $17,000,000 to Gulf & Western in 1967. Obviously she knew what she was doing. In fact, Gloria Steinem said, “I admire her as a business woman. You know, she really seemed to control her entire professional life and was very, very smart” (100 Years of Great Women). She was certainly a brilliant businesswoman.
Because of her unbelievable talent as an actress, comedienne, woman, and person in general, Lucille Ball has become a role model for many people. Among these people are Rosie O’Donnell, Carol Burnett, and Bette Midler. In fact, Rosie O’Donnell said, “Lucille Ball paved the way for every female performer, I think, today. You know, you have to honor those who came before you and give a hand to those who are coming up after you, I think. Because we’re all in it together.” (100 Years of Great Women). In addition, she is someone for many young girls, whether aspiring to be an actress or not, to look up to. After all, “She was America’s Queen of Comedy” (Universal Studios 1).
As would be expected of a woman as talented as she, Ball has won many awards throughout her career. She has won 4 Emmys: Best Comedienne in 1952, Best Actress in a Continuing Performance (for I Love Lucy) in 1955, and Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series (For The Lucy Show) in 1967 and 1968. In addition, she has won Many Motion Picture Daily Awards including Best Performer and Best Comedienne. In 1975 she even won the Entertainer of the Year Award. All these awards were due to her unbelievable work as a comedienne and actress.
Throughout her life, Lucille Ball continued to amaze and surprise the country. “She was a scrabble enthusiast, a dog lover, an admirer of the painter’s Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth. . .” (Moritz 35). She has done many great things to better comedy today. To this day, I Love Lucy episodes are viewed on television. Lucille Ball will never be forgotten. “Like a few great creations, but no great directors, she beat that killer, time” (Brady 342). No one will ever forget the hilarious situations she got herself into on the set of I Love Lucy, or her famous red hair. She was such a talented actress that she has been “Variously called a ‘national treasure’, a monument, an institution, a legend, and a daily habit. . .” (Moritz 32). “Her work is on a par with that of Chaplin or Keaton. . .” (Brady ix).
Despite her few flaws, Lucille Ball was an exceptional actress. To this day, she has not been forgotten. The reason that everyone has seen the famous chocolate factory episode of I Love Lucy and the hilarious Vitameatavegamin episode is because of Ball’s superb acting ability. Her impact was so great, that even after her death, Lucille Ball is watched all over the country. The most popular I Love Lucy episodes are still shown on television to this day. Obviously, this shows that Lucille Ball has made significant, positive contributions to the world. “So what if Lucille Ball’s haircolor came out of a bottle? As a comic genius, she was a natural” (Dziemianowicz 53).
“Ball, Lucille.” Biography.com. April 1999. Biography. 15 April 1999 <http://www.biography.com/cgi-bin/biomain.cgi>.
“Ball, Lucille.” Current Biography. 1978 ed. Ed. Charles Moritz. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1978: 32-35.
“Ball, Lucille.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. 1998: 472-473.
Brady, Kathleen. Lucille. New York: Hyperion, 1994.
Dziemianowicz, Joe. “Our Favorite Redhead.” Macall’s October 1996: 53-54.
Lucy-A Tribute. MCA.com. 29 April 1999. ;http://www.mca.com/unicity/attractions/lucy.html;.
“100 Years of Great Women.” ABCNEWS Special. ABC. 30 April 1999.
Zoglin, Richard. “Lucille Ball: The First Lady of Comedy Brought us Laughter as Well as Emotion Truth.” Time June 1998: 188-191.