Born August 6, 1911 –Jamestown, New York
Known as both The First Lady of Television and The Queen of Comedy, Lucille Ball was both television’s biggest star and, at the same time, one of its greatest trailblazers.
Initially a contract player at both RKO Radio Pictures and MGM, her first real success came in radio when she was hired to play the wacky wife on My Favorite Husband. The show became a hit and CBS wanted to bring it to television, but Lucy maintained she wouldn’t take it unless the husband role could be played by her real-life husband Desi. The network relented and that became one of the most celebrated and revered sitcoms of all time, I Love Lucy. Each Monday night millions of viewers would tune in to see what hair-brained situation Lucy had gotten herself into. Not only did Lucy and Desi star in the runaway hit, but their new company Desilu became its producers. Desi would later pull out of the production end leaving Lucy as the sole head of Desilu Productions, the first woman to ever run a studio.
I Love Lucy would run for six seasons, being the most popular show on television for four of them. At the end of the sixth year they would stop production on I Love Lucy, being the first series in history to go off the air while being TV’s Number One show.
Divorced from Desi by this point, Lucy would be behind the helm for two additional successful sitcoms, The Lucy Show, which would also run for six seasons and leave the air as the #2 show in the country, and Here’s Lucy, co-starring her two children Lucie and Desi Jr. That series would spend four years in the top 10 and by the time it went off the air, Lucy had starred on television for the better part of two decades.
In recognition of her achievements, she would be presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes, the Governor’s Award from the Emmys, and be the first female comedy performer to be celebrated at The Kennedy Center Honors.
Died April 26, 1989 – Los Angeles, California