the great Lucille Ball

Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American actress , comedienne, model, film -studio executive, and producer. She was best known as the star of the self-produced sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy.

Ball’s career began in 1929 when she landed work as a model. Shortly thereafter, she began her performing career on Broadway using the stage names Diane Belmont and Dianne Belmont. She later appeared in several minor film roles in the 1930s and 1940s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures, being cast as a chorus girl or in similar roles. During this time, she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, and the two eloped in November 1940. In the 1950s, Ball ventured into television. In 1951, she and Arnaz created the sitcom I Love Lucy, a series that became one of the most beloved programs in television history. The same year, Ball gave birth to their first child, Lucie Arnaz, followed by Desi Arnaz, Jr. in 1953. Ball and Arnaz divorced in May 1960, and she married comedian Gary Morton in 1961.

In 1962, Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which produced many popular television series, including Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. Ball did not back away from acting completely, appearing in film and television roles for the rest of her career until her death in April 1989 from an abdominal aortic dissection at the age of 77.

Ball was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning four times. In 1977, Ball was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Award. She was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1984, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989.

On April 18, 1989, Ball was at her home in Beverly Hills when she complained of chest pains. An ambulance was called and she was rushed to the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was diagnosed with dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours, including the transplant of a new aorta. The surgery appeared to have been successful, and Ball began recovering very quickly, even walking around her room with little assistance. She received a flurry of get-well wishes from Hollywood , and across the street from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Hard Rock Café erected a sign reading “Hard Rock Loves Lucy”. However, shortly after dawn on April 26, Ball awoke with severe back pains and soon lost consciousness.

Attempts to revive her proved unsuccessful and she died at 5:47 a.m. PDT. Doctors determined that Ball, who was 77 years old, had succumbed to a second aortic rupture, this time in the abdominal area, and that it was not directly related to her surgery the previous week. Her body was cremated and the ashes were originally interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. However, in 2002, her children moved her remains to the Hunt family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where her parents, Henry and Desirée (Hunt) Ball, his sister, Lucille Ball, and her grandparents are buried.

Finding Lucy | Lucille Ball Documentary (PBS)

From her struggling early days to her successful heyday, you’ll see the Lucy you love and meet the Lucy you never knew — the incredible woman behind the …

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