Posted by: Ron DuBour | August 14, 2020

Knowing your American Heroes ~ Lucille Desiree Ball (1911-1989) ~ by rldubour


Friday! Time for an American Hero! Today is:

 

Knowing your American Heroes

Lucille Desiree Ball (1911-1989)

Ball, Lucille - National Women's Hall of Fame

 

Born in nineteen-eleven

To Henry and Eveline Ball.

A drama coach once told her

She had no future at all.

 

Her Dad had died from typhoid

Mom was pregnant with her brother.

Raised by her Grandparents

Mom became a working mother.

 

Her Grandfather Fred C. Hunt

Was an eccentric socialist.

Encouraging young Lucy

In school plays she should enlist.

 

At John Murray Anderson school

For the Dramatic Arts.

With her mother’s approval

For Ball thought this was where it starts.

 

In thirty-two moved to New York

Used the stage name Diane Belmont.

In thirty-three to Hollywood

Her goal for acting she did want.

 

Nineteen-forty signed by MGM

In films would not achieve success.

That same year met Desi Arnaz

In love eloped for happiness.

 

A program “My favorite husband”

On CBS radio where it was at.

Lucy played a wacky wife

By the name of Liz Cugat.

 

Changed the name to “I Love Lucy”

Was brought to television.

This show created a dynasty

That no one could envision.

 

She formed Desilu Productions

The first woman to head this task.

Dominated weekly TV

Success was at her grasp.

 

In two-thousand and two inducted

Into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

By President Bush in her name.

 

AUTHOR NOTES: Lucille Désirée Ball was born to Henry Ball (1886–1915) and Desiree “DeDe” Eveline Hunt (1892–1977) in Jamestown, New York, and grew up in the adjacent small town of Celoron, a suburb of Jamestown. Although Lucy was born in Jamestown, she told many people that she was born in Butte, Montana. Her family was Baptist; her father was of Scottish descent. Her mother was of French, Irish and English descent.  Her genealogy can be traced back to the earliest settlers in the colonies. One ancestor, William Sprague (1609–1675), left England on the ship Lyon’s Whelp for Plymouth/Salem, Massachusetts. They were from Upwey, Dorset, England. Along with his two brothers, William helped to found the city of Charlestown, Massachusetts. Other Sprague relatives became soldiers in the US Revolutionary War and two of them became governors of the state of Rhode Island. Her father was a telephone lineman for the Bell Company, while her mother was often described as a lively and energetic young woman. Her father’s job required frequent transfers, and within three years after her birth, Lucille had moved many times, from Jamestown to Anaconda, Montana, and then to Wyandotte, Michigan. While DeDe Ball was pregnant with her second child, Frederick, Henry Ball contracted typhoid fever and died in February 1915.

After her father died, Ball and her brother Fred were raised by her working mother and grandparents. Her grandfather, Fred C. Hunt, was an eccentric socialist who enjoyed the theater. He frequently took the family to vaudeville shows and encouraged young Lucy to take part in both her own and school plays. In 1925 after a romance with a local bad boy (Johnny DeVita), Ball decided to enroll in the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts with her mother’s approval. There, the shy girl was outshone by another pupil, Bette Davis. Ball went home a few weeks later when drama coaches told her that she “had no future at all as a performer”. She moved back to New York City in 1932 to become an actress and had some success as a fashion model for designer Hattie Carnegie and as the Chesterfield girl. She began her performing career on Broadway using the stage name “Diane Belmont” and was hired—but then quickly fired—by theatre impresario Earl Carroll from his Vanities and by Florenz Ziegfeld from a touring company of Rio Rita. She was let go again from the Shubert brothers production of Stepping Stones. After an unaccredited stint as one of the Goldwyn Girls in Roman Scandals (1933) she permanently moved to Hollywood to appear in films. In 1948, Ball was cast as Liz Cugat (later “Cooper”), a wacky wife, in My Favorite Husband, a radio program for CBS. The program was successful, and CBS asked her to develop it for television, a show that eventually became I Love Lucy. I Love Lucy made them the biggest stars in the nation, even among the Hollywood elite. Desilu produced several other popular shows, most notably Our Miss Brooks, The Untouchables, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible. Many other shows, particularly Sheldon Leonard-produced series like Make Room for Daddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and I Spy, were filmed at Desilu Studios and bear its logo. On July 17, 1951, just one month before her 40th birthday and after several miscarriages, Ball gave birth to her first child, Lucie Desiree Arnaz. A year and a half later, Ball gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr. On April 18, 1989, Ball complained of chest pains and was rushed to the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was diagnosed as having a dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent surgery for nearly eight hours. The surgery was successful and Ball was recovering; she was walking around her room with little assistance. On April 26, shortly before dawn, Ball awoke with severe back pains. Her aorta had ruptured in a second location and Ball quickly lost consciousness. All attempts to revive her proved unsuccessful and at approximately 5:17 a.m., Lucille Ball died at the age of 77. She was initially interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, but in 2002 her ashes were moved to the family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York where Ball’s mother, father, brother, and grandparents are buried. On July 6, 1989, Lucille Ball was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush. In 1990, Lucille Ball was posthumously awarded the Women’s International Center’s Living Legacy Award.  The Little Theatre in Jamestown, New York was renamed the Lucille Ball Little Theatre in 1991. In 2000, Lucille Ball was among Time magazine’s 100 Most Important People of the Century. On August 6, 2001, on what would have been her 90th birthday, the United States Postal Service honored her with a commemorative postage stamp as part of its Legends of Hollywood series. In 2002, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. On July 6, 1989, Lucille Ball was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush. In 1990, Lucille Ball was posthumously awarded the Women’s International Center’s Living Legacy Award.  The Little Theatre in Jamestown, New York was renamed the Lucille Ball Little Theatre in 1991. Lucille Ball has appeared on the cover of TV Guide more than any other person; she appeared on 39 covers. In 1996, TV Guide voted Lucille Ball as the Greatest TV Star of All Time. In 2001, it commemorated the 50th Anniversary of I Love Lucy with eight collector covers celebrating memorable scenes from the show. In 2002, TV Guide named I Love Lucy the second most influential television program in American history. In 2007, she was posthumously awarded the Legacy of Laughter award at the 5th Annual TV Land Awards. And  I Love Lucy was named the Greatest TV Series by Hall of Fame Magazine.


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