Lucille Desiree Ball (August 6, 1911 - April 26, 1989) was an American actress, comedian and star of I Love Lucy. A second rank movie star of the 1940s, she became one of the best and most popular stars in television history.
She was born in Jamestown, New York and after her father died, was raised by her working mother and grandparents.
She moved to New York City to become an actress and had some success as a fashion model and chorus girl. She moved to Hollywood in 1933 to appear in films. She appeared in many small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO. She switched to MGM in the 1940s, but never achieved great success in films.
In 1948, she was cast as a wacky wife in "My Favorite Husband", a radio program. The program was successful, and CBS asked her to develop it as a television program. She agreed, but insisted on working with her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz.
"I Love Lucy" was not only a star vehicle for Lucille Ball, but a way for her to try to salvage her marriage to Desi Arnaz, which had been badly strained by the fact that each had a hectic performing schedule.
"Lucy Ricardo" was a friendly, ambitious and somewhat naive housewife who was constantly getting into trouble of one kind or another. "Lucy! You got some 'ess-plainin' to do!" became a famous cry of Ricky Ricardo. The setup provided ample opportunities for Ball to display her skills at physical comedy, at which she is regarded as one of the best-ever in the history of film and television.
Along the way, she pioneered the television sitcom, and was among the first stars to film before a live audience. The use of actual film during production, instead of making just an inferior-quality kinescope as most other TV shows did at the time, paved the way for rebroadcast through syndication.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz founded Desilu Productions.
Lucille Ball died on April 26, 1989 and was interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, but was later moved by her children, Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Lucie Arnaz to the Lake View Cemetery, in Jamestown, New York.
There is a Lucille Ball museum located in the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida.