timeline

born 1911

America's favorite comedian had a long road to the top. She left home at 15 to break into showbiz, but lost her first job {as a dancer} because she couldn't dance. Her looks landed her modeling work, though rheumatic fever at 17 nearly ended her fledgling career. At 20, she got a bit part in Roman Scandals, and went on to star in many B movies ~ often as a cold-hearted gold-digger! But, as 1946 newspaper story on her wartime charity work reported, "Lucille Ball Hardboiled? Why, She's a Big Softie!"

Her early roles come as a surprise to those who grew up on her clowning + mugging. Her success as a production exec is also at odds with the slapstick haplessness that so defined the iconic Lucille Ball ~ and still makes us laugh.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Lucille Ball (19)

"I think any time you give the American people the truth they’re with you."

LA Times | september 1953

"God ... how I love babies! Not just my own, but the world's babies."

Love, Lucy | early 1960s

"My mother was always willing to go into hock for a good cause."

Love, Lucy | early 1960s

"I've become a woman with a capacity for happiness again."

Love, Lucy | early 1960s

"I get my spontaneous performances out of knowing exactly what I'm supposed to do."

Lucille Ball interviews Doris Day | 1964

"I don't care if the show ever goes on, but I love rehearsals."

Lucille Ball interviews Doris Day | 1964

"I don't think funny. I can do funny things that other people write down in detail, tell me how to do them."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"I don't like anyone who can take a nap."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"I can. If I wish, I can."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"I always felt that they, the public, needed a show that had a beginning, a middle, and a happy ending. Something they could depend on."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"My success was never labeled success by anyone close to me."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"I didn't have time to think of being a success personally."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"I used [the show] when I was unhappy. It was always happy in our story. It was always happy pretending. I had to pretend, but it helped."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"We had many houses before, but we didn't have a home."

Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime | december 1977

"I tried very hard to say something but all I could do was cry with joy."

Lucille Ball and Daughter Interviewed | may 1979

"I sure as hell didn't know what I was doing when I started."

Ask Her Anything About Desi Sr., Divorce, Drugs, Gay Rights | february 1980

"They can use my name for equal rights, but I don't get out there and raise hell because I've been so liberated I have nothing to squawk about."

Ask Her Anything About Desi Sr., Divorce, Drugs, Gay Rights | february 1980

"My idea of getting high was a Coca-Cola and an aspirin."

Ask Her Anything About Desi Sr., Divorce, Drugs, Gay Rights | february 1980

"I don't think you should write a book until you tell the absolute truth. You can't do that until you're 85, and I don't want to live that long."

Ask Her Anything About Desi Sr., Divorce, Drugs, Gay Rights | february 1980
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  • Lucille Ball

curated with care by Meghan Miller Brawley {august 2014}