Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York.  From a young age, Ball had an interest in performing. In fact her first stage was the counter of her local butcher!  Here she would entertain incoming customers with her dancing, twirling and her (personal favorite) rendition of a jumping frog. While Ball was exuberant and full of spirit, she was actually incredibly shy.  In fact this affected her in acting school as well.  Ball’s instructors even expressed their thoughts as to how they thought “Lucy’s wasting her time…and ours. She’s too shy and reticent to put her best foot forward.”  Although the words hurt, Ball never quit, as her legacy shows.

Despite the trials and tribulations that Lucille Ball faced, she continued to pursue her dreams.  Chasing her dreams not only lead to her success with the show “I Love Lucy,” but it also led to love.  Lucy met Desi Arnaz, a Cuban singer and performer on the set of “Too Many Girls.” Here is where their relationship began.  As their relationship developed they became inseparable; six months later they got married in 1940.  Later in 1951, they had their first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz.

Their family and marriage would help revolutionize television for multiracial people and families to come.  Not only did they feature their real-life, interracial marriage on TV, they broke the barriers of hiding pregnancies on television as well.  In the ‘50s, discrimination against minorities including Latin-Americans and multiracial people was tense. So being in an interracial marriage with a Latin-American definitely wasn’t easy for Lucille,  When acting in “I Love Lucy,” Ball wanted Arnaz to play as her TV husband.  The network pushed for it to be someone else for they feared that no one would want to watch an interracial couple on TV.  Boy, were they wrong!  Through Ball’s persistence she gave the multiracial community a platform in showbiz.

Not only was this interracial couple on stage, but they were also behind the scenes. With all the success of “I Love Lucy,” Desi Arnaz decided to establish a production studio of his own: Desilu Productions.  With Lucille as vice president and Desi as president, this power couple was having success after success.

While the Arnazes marriage came to an unfortunate end in 1960,  Lucille and Desi were able to still be friends.  Eventually Lucille bought out all of Desi’s holdings in the company, and she became president of Desilu.  Ball was the first woman to head a major production company.  What I love about Lucille Ball is that she was very persistent and hardworking, no matter what was thrown at her.  Ball fought for what she believed was right and that would change history for women and multiracial people in television business forever!



Madelyn Rempel, President of Project RACE Kids


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