September 21st, 2006
Lucille Ball
Finding Lucy

For more than thirty years, Lucille Ball was one of the most recognized and loved entertainers in the world. Known to all simply as Lucy, she portrayed a scatterbrained housewife with the ability to turn simple chores into unparalleled fiascoes. Clumsy and unsophisticated at nearly everything she tried (and she tried nearly everything), the television Lucy won the hearts of average Americans across all social and cultural lines with her wacky schemes. Ironically, it was Ball’s wide range of experience and talents that made her such a success in this role.

Dropping out of high school at the age of fifteen, Ball moved to New York to study acting and found her first stage work as a chorus girl in 1927. She had her first break as a poster-girl for Chesterfield cigarettes and soon found herself in tinsel town as one of twelve slave-girls in the Eddie Cantor film, Roman Candles (1933). By the mid-1930s, if you went to the movies (and in the 1930s everyone went to the movies) you would be certain to see Lucille Ball. Sometimes a nurse or a dancer, sometimes a flower clerk or a college girl, but always there. By the end of the decade she had been in forty-three films and was known as “Queen of the B Movies.”

Though universally recognized as a true talent and charismatic performer, Ball had yet to find the niche that would shoot her to super-stardom. From one film to the next her roles would change from the seriously dramatic to the light-hearted romantic lead. Dramas, Comedies, Musicals, she would and could do anything. But it wasn’t until her part on the radio show “My Favorite Husband” that her true genius appeared. “My Favorite Husband” was a situation comedy about a housewife who was always getting into trouble. Over the airwaves, Ball’s beauty and grace were invisible and what was left was that perfect comic timing and tone. With a pause, a stutter or a firmly asserted absurdity she could express all of the quirky awkwardness of physical comedians like Keaton, Chaplin, or the Marx Brothers, and the audiences ate it up.

After two successful years of “My Favorite Husband,” Ball moved her act to the new medium of television, bringing along her husband, the Cuban band leader Desi Arnaz, as a co-star. Together they created the most popular television show of the 1950s. I Love Lucy was the perfect home for Ball – a place where she could return to the physical comedy she was master of, while working alongside the man she loved. This love, of the work and the people, came through and created a unique, more personable kind of star, one unknown before television. For many Americans, tuning in every week was a way of seeing what an old friend was up to. Each new show looked at a different aspect of everyday life, finding humor in our dreams and frustrations.

Removing herself almost completely from the big screen, Ball embraced television and became a master of the medium. With Arnaz she formed Desilu Studios to gain greater control over her work, and with it pushed television into its golden years. She cultivated a personal image that corresponded to that of her television characters and in doing so broke down one of the most profound barriers between actor and audience. Like no one before or since, she seemed a part of the family. When she was pregnant with her second child, her character became pregnant, and on the day she delivered Desi Junior, her on-air persona did the same. For many she was a great symbol of the changing times and letters and gifts arrived from around the country celebrating this personal and public occasion.

After a successful ten year run, the pressures of the industry and public life became too much and Arnaz and Ball canceled the show and were divorced. Soon Ball became president of Desilu and within a short while returned to television. Deciding to stick with her well-loved character she developed a new series called The Lucy Show in which she worked with former I Love Lucy co-star Vivian Vance. Though never to reach the heights of I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show (and later Here’s Lucy) ran for a combined twelve years with a great deal of success. Ball had found the key to television — she had made a character Americans could not live without.

More than her seventy plus films, her hundreds of television appearances, her work running a studio which brought us such major television series as Mission: Impossible and Star Trek, Ball’s true legacy can be found in her understanding of the possibilities of television before it understood itself. She saw that it could have the excitement of vaudeville, the wonder of the movies, and come directly to people’s homes with the intimacy of the radio. Since the premiere of I Love Lucy in 1951, Lucille Ball’s oh-so-human character has graced the small screen, and it is a testament to her visionary talent that it is hard to imagine television without her.

  • John anderson

    Is this episode available for purchase?

  • john anderson

    Is the episode “Finding Lucy” available for purchase?

  • michael

    what year did Lucille Ball died

  • person

    Lucille Ball died at age 78 year1989

  • person

    who was lucille balls husband

  • smiley

    did lucille smoke???

  • knowitall

    her husband was Desi Arnaz and she did smoke

  • sindy

    its a very good material

  • vanessa

    How crul was Ricky ti Lucy? Really?

  • jesse

    im doing a paper on Lucille Ball and your information helped alot on how i should make it all flow together.

  • Samantha

    Is this video available for purchase? I thought it was very good! I really want it! :)

  • a personage

    Go Lucy!!! I have to do a report to this helped soooo much?

  • sydney

    lucille ball is so amazing i love her!!

  • Joe G

    Is finding lucy available for purchase?

  • Wren

    I Love Lucy is one of my fave shows. Finding Lucy (I think) is available to purchase somewhere, though I don’t know where. We have a copy, but I don’t know where we got it.

  • robert

    i am doing a report on lucille and this info. helped out a lot. thanks to everyone who contributed! history is around the corner and i know ill be ready!

  • Elaine

    I friken love her

  • Taylor

    I A m Doing A Report on Lucille Ball!!!!
    YaY!!!!

  • Sydney

    I am doing a report on her do u know any interesting facts about her?

  • Deidara

    I’m doing a HUGE porject on Lucille Ball. EVERYONE LOVES LUCY!!! :3

  • meg

    Lucille Ball died April 26, 1989.

  • rosa

    i wish lucy was still alive so that there would be more photos of her and so that her children have a mother

  • lala

    i’m doing a report on lucille and i need to know who the author is

  • Madison

    Hey! Im do’n a biography on Lucille Ball. So who ever created this website, thanx! This is really good reaserch! ~Maddie

  • Juliene

    does anyone know the piano music in the documentary? i could really use that music for my documentary

  • Lucy

    Who is the author of this so i can cite it for my report. this helped so much!!!

  • ..alkdj

    hi i’m doing a report on Lucille Ball and I need to know who the author of this artical is.

  • Jessika

    im doing a research project on her and i am trying to find out a hole bunch of stuff about her

  • Ione Causing

    i love lucy!!:)

  • maymay

    i love lucy and this website helped so much. i hope these facts are right!

  • susan

    what happened to her if she quit the show?

  • Sarah

    I am doing a report on Lucille Ball. Thanks for the great info!! :] God bless you!!

  • jessika

    this episode is sssssoooooooooooooooooo funny

  • Jordan

    Lucy is great! She is soooo funny!

  • megan

    hey im doing a report on lucille ball and im learning alot!!!! form what i read from this site i found out that lucille smokes!!! thanx for alll the help with the imformation!!! luv yas!!!

  • kgizzle

    i love lucy. who couldn’t?

  • Nicole

    What kind of a women was Lucille Ball?
    You should put the most important parts about Lucille Ball so it can be more helpful if people have to make a report about her!

  • a. lindsay

    I’m doing a research paper on Lucille Ball and this was helpful for my bibliography, but I need to know who the author is for my citations.

  • Kirsty

    hey i am doing a research paper…. can you help meeeeee???

  • Desi

    “I Love Lucy” was never just a title.

  • ELLEE

    I’M DOING HER AS MY PROJECT, I EFFIN’ LOVE HER. WOOT :D

  • huqman

    I am doing her for my project to .I love her

  • Cassie

    I am doing a report on Lucille Ball

  • Tiffany Sharma

    I love you Lucy, u r just too adorable, please come back next time, next birth.

  • Sharon

    Lucy made a speech about today’s youth quoting an ancient philosopher,Socrates or Plato? Could have been an acceptance speech don’t know. Anyone know where I can find out more?

  • Benjamoon

    The 1933 Eddie Cantor film should be “Roman Scandals” not candles.

  • yafa

    lucille ball is the best comedian,i love her

  • Sydney

    I love Lucy! she the best commedian ever!

  • Sydney

    I love Lucy!

  • Kayla Lauren and Hannah in computer lab

    I lov Lucyy im doing a report on her soo helpfull thanks soo much

  • Charlie

    I’m a huge Lucy/Desi fan and have read may book on their lives there are a few facts on here that are not accurate. First Lucy dies when she was 77 years old not 78. Second I love lucy did not have a ten year run. It ended in 1957 and then there where the one hour lucy desi special that run until 1960. So I Love Lucy ran from 1951 to 1957 and the Lucy/Desi Comedy Hours ran from 1957 to 1960. So a total of 9 years if you count the Lucy/Desi Comedy as a part of the I Love Lucy franchise. If any of you doing a report need more details facts I suggest you check out the book “Desilu”. It is a great resource and feel free to ask me. I know almost everything!!!

  • I love Julian

    Lucy is da best!!!! I Love Lucy!!!!!

  • allison

    i love it when Lucille,s eyes are big open with wrinkles !!!!!! there are so beautiful !!!!!! i love Lucille Ball !!!!!! God bless you Lucy !

  • c jay

    Lucy was the queen of Henna Dye (her fire colored hair). love you Lucy.

  • peter

    Who sung the verson of My Funny Valentine

  • lisa

    i like ethel better… Ricky is a jerk!!!1

  • juliet

    thanks, i have 2 do a timeline on her, did u know she wrote an autobiography!?!?!?!

  • jeffry

    i am Jeffry and i think Lucille ball is a nice woman and she was a good person to have a friend like her

  • lucy rocks

    She did write a autobiography called: love, lucy

  • wonder

    why was lucille ball so important to the U.S.A????

  • lindsey

    she is so amazing. i just found out she dyed her hair. i cant believe she wasnt a true red head. Why did she dye her hair? And why did she drop out of high school at age 15?! i wonder if she would have done something different if she would have stayed in high school and not have gone to New York.

  • monty

    lindsey-
    lucille was a brunette at columbia and rko in the 1930s. when she got to mgm in 1942, sidney guilaroff, who did the hairstyles there, decided there were enough blondes and brunettes around-so he gave her red hair. her first movie for mgm was also her first in color-and the red hair helped make her stand out. best biography for those studying her-’lucille-the life of lucille ball’, by kathleen brady (1994)

  • Lindsey

    Monty-
    Thank you so much for your help. I am a confused person and this helped me a lot to understand why exactly she did that. I watched a whole marithon on the show but, it was in black and white of course but why did she dye it if its not in color anyway??

  • Megan

    Lucy is my number one role model, I love her so much!! I want to be just like her, I even dyed my hair red. Not only that I also married a Cuban named Kenny. We want to start a show some day called “I Love Megan”. It is going to be a great sucess.

  • Magan

    I LOVE LUCY SO MUCH! SHE IS MY HERO!!

  • Brian Perdue

    My name is Brian Perdue and I am the Director of Programming for a new Canadian channel called The Accessible Channel. The first in the world, our mission is to make media accessible to all Canadians, and to do so we offer all our programs 24/7 with open description and closed captions for those who are blind, low vision, deaf or hard of hearing. We are a national English digital channel.

    I would like to discuss purchasing for broadcast the American Masters: Finding Lucy/
    Perhaps we could discuss other acquisitions as well.

    Have a great day
    Brian Perdue

  • MrsMikey

    Does anyone know the name of the made for TV movie that was made about Lucy and Dezi’s life together?

  • John Holmes

    I know the movie you are talking about but I cant quite remember the name…. Does anyone know the name?

  • brittany

    Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter……………………that is the name of the movie

  • DeeDee

    My question is, what is the address to the apartment, Lucy and Ricky rented from the Mertz’s, _______East 68th St.What area of New York is this.

  • Anne

    I Love Lucy was before me time, actually Lucille Ball died the year I was born but I use to love watching I Love Lucy re-runs with my grandmother.

    I’m just starting to invest in all the I Love Lucy Seasons, & I have a few books that I want to pick up Love Lucy by Lucille Ball, A Book by Desi Arnaz & Desilu. How can you not fall in love with Lucy!?

    Lucille Ball there is truly noone like her and there will never be again, comedy today is EXTREMELY different but I prefere the comedy of the “I Love Lucy” time period.

  • Denise Carnine

    I have an original portait paintng of Lucille Ball painted in 1988. It is known that this was her last painting done before she died. I have had an apprasial done, and found it to be a very high valued painting. This painting was painted in Europe. There is a signature and date on the back of the painting. This painting is approx. 6′ x 6′ including beautiful wood frame. Can anybody give me ideas on how to proceed in selling this painting?

  • Marcus

    There’s also an artist in California who’s got a brilliant artwork of Lucille Ball at 23 years old, I think she was in the Follies or a dancer around that time.

    The artists name is Melvin Hale, but many call him ArtistLA because he’s so focused on vintage LA culture, and his work is digitally painted from vintage black and white photographs or real photo postcards (rppcs), I think it’s at http://www.artistla.com or just search by his name.

    But I just wanted to also say that Lucy has such a following that it is amazing and I am glad that pbs has spent time showing her real class.

  • amber

    i love lucy and desi no matter wat happen between them

  • kelly

    WHERE IS THE EPISODES!!!!!????? I WANT TO WHACH ONE SOOOOOO BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1248/OMG, George! This is exactly what I do! Thank you for simply pointing out the one easy way to fix the problem. Ill have to utilize ___ in my. . . crap, now what what that thing Im working on called?

  • rose

    Lucille Ball was one of the best ever! here’s another site… http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000840/bio

  • David Atkins

    Lucille Ball was a B grade movie actress on the RKO lot that had Irene Dunne, Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn. In the end Miss Ball became the most famous of them all, and was the first woman to head a major studio since Mary Pickford. Miss Ball was a comedic genius and her invention of Lucy Ricardo is one of the more famous roles of any actress anywhere, In real life Miss Ball and her first husband Desi Arnaz created Desilu Productions and that fabled studio produced I Love Lucy, Our Miss Brooks and The Untouchables. Arnaz departure, Miss Ball helmed Desilu and along with producing her famous Lucy TV Shows, Desilu produced Mannix and two series now part of iconic history: Mission Impossible, and Star Trek. As Ms. Ball was selling Desilu Miss Ball filmed Yours Mine and Ours a smash hit that moved Desilu into the movie business. Desilu was acquired by Paramount and making Ms. Ball a very very rich woman. While her TV image was that of a scatterbrained woman, in her real life she was anything but. Kudos to Lucy Ball

  • Lewis

    FYI: Lucy and Desi did divorce, but only because the marrige was strained between the couple’s performance schedules. The two, although both remarried, remained on good terms and often talked with one another over telephone every other week. Both Lucy and Desi still loved one another even after the divorce.

  • taylor lackie

    i love lucy babbbyyy

  • taylor :)

    i love this girlll. anyone know other good sources i could use for my paper?

  • Elizabeth Chapman

    Lucille Ball died April 26th, 1989.

  • sbmsalz2

    This episode is/was available on VHS only. It turns up on ebay from time to time but may be for sale other places. It’s worth it to buy as it is very well done. It contains a lot of rare LUCY footage and back story. It’s a little bit of a downer at times (depressing) but still worth watching. Hopefully it will be released on DVD! It’s great that Lucy has so many fans still watching her amazing shows and movies. I’ve read (and reread) many books on Lucy and there are feel like a minor (amatuer) authority on Lucy. I’ve met her daughter and once took a trip to Jamestown, NY (her home town) for a comedy festival. I believe that was in the late 1990s. Lucy died at age 77 (four months before her 78th birthday, though it was published in one book that she was 78 yrs old..not true).

  • Maxine

    She is one of my favorite actresses, the best stories of her occured when she was living with Desi in San Fernando Valley. If you ever want to know anything about Lucille Ball read it directly from the source, her autobiography titled Love, Lucy.

  • Lauren

    hi im just wondering if anyone knows what her inspirations were because im doing a school project and i cant find them anywhere

  • loren

    Lucille Ball Ia An amazing person and i dont think any one iwll forget her(:
    i just wished she lived a little longer so ic ould meet her(:
    She was a very down to earth person who like us had her fears and did what she kloved to do with out anyone stopping her(:
    iv Learned about her soo much and i know there is a whole lot more about her that not everyone knows mayb one day someone that really knew her or that had a relative that was really close to her can tell us more then whats onthe internet.

  • mels

    i really love her so much she is my hero

  • Gail

    Where can I watch this show?

  • Tony J

    Is there any way that this will re-air on PBS again or it will be available to buy.

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  • ERIC STEPHEN JACOBS

    I purchased a pre-recorded VHS of this episode because there was nothing else available commercially out there — but can’t help but wonder why it is not available on DVD? Given that this is the 100th anniversary of Ms. Ball’s birth and the 60th Anniversary of “I Love Lucy”, what better time to release this wonderful documentary on DVD. I know it would be a big seller, as there are so many millions of fans out there who would gladly and gratefully purchase this episode on DVD. Please, the powers that be, consider releasing this on DVD asap. It would be most appreciated. The most recent airing on PBS of this program was riddled with pledge breaks — and while I am a supporter of PBS, I would love to see it in it’s entirety without interruptions. Please, please consider releasing it on DVD. Thank you.

  • Bill

    Is the American Masters episode “Finding Lucy” available for purchase?

  • Evan

    I love her soooooooooooooooooooooo much!!!!! She is my role model, and now i get to do a research paper on her! ‘m so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) <3 (:

  • aerobaby

    when did she get divorced?

  • robertpri

    I once read that either Lucy or Desi or a combination of both, created the three camera method for TV that is used by all TV shows today. Previously, the camera stayed in one spot, never moved, although it could zoom.

    The idea was the single camera would be similar to you if you were sitting in the audience.

    Three cameras operating at once, was a revelation. Desilu believed the audience wanted more, and they were right. It was a nightmare for the control room, deciding which camera view to broadcast, but it was adopted by all.

  • Manuel Michelena

    LOL. This is so true. it’s amazing how the little things can be a pain in the backside.

  • Rhi-Bea

    Loving Lucy doing her as a project for school loving every minute of research she’s so entertaining. Also a pro at what she does

  • Becky

    I am doing a commemorative paper on Miss Ball and this has helped a lot. I still watch I Love Lucy and never get tired of seeing the show.

  • David Atkins

    Lucille Ball was a comedic genius and a great Businesswoman. The only Woman up to today ( July 1, 2012)
    that ran a Hollywood studio. Ms. Ball co founded Desilu and when her husband Desi Arnaz left Ms. Ball bought out his shares and as she said to Rex Reed, “I Ran My Studio Like I Ran My Home” Brilliantly Ms. Ball approved Mission Impossible, Star Trek two of Televsions most iconic series. On her tenure Desilu produced another smash hit Dramatic series Mannix and as Ms. Ball was selling her studio to next door neighbor Paramount Ms. Ball and Desilu produced the smash hit film Yours Mine and Ours.

    A truly brilliant woman, and great star.

  • Delanne Benford

    Hi,
    I’m 10 years old, and I’m doing a history project theme of “Turning Points in History” for National History Day (www.nhd.org) I have chosen to do my project on my absolutely favorite actress, Lucille Ball. I loooovvve Lucy! I’ve seen every I Love Lucy episode and some of her other movies. Is this “American Masters” Finding Lucy available for purchase? I would really love it if it is. It would really help my research for National History Day.
    Thank you!

  • Sheena Marie

    Who sings this version of my funny valentine?

  • Teilia Snowden

    Hi i am a 15 year old in the city of mullins. i love lucy so much, you guys i cry every night because i know that i will never meet her. I love her sooooooooooooo much, like a mother. i would absolutly feel more than happy to say that even though that lucy is not in this life to say the so loving words ” I love you too.” i know that she loves all of her fans young and old, we are her fans, her family, and her friends. to desi and my sweet lucy to both i wish a pleasent eternal slumber, i love you both. But i really honest to god Love lucy

  • Michaela Cook

    thanks to you i get to do a project about you in music instead of reading a book and trying to do a test

  • Zina C.

    I Love Lucy…ha…She is one of my favorite actresses but i can hardly find a family tree. Is there a website where i can look her family tree for free? I have looked all over, but either i have to subscribe to a site, or it refuses to load and the information is sketchy…
    Thanks! :)

  • Joe

    Job switch is the most funniest show ever

  • sandra

    I Love, I Love Lucy. She is one of my favorite T.V Idols ever, she inspires me to always do my best and makes me laugh no ,atter what. I Love Lucy is my favorite show ever, I still watch it everyday rain or shine, she is one of my hero’s.

Salinger

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