77. Lucille Ball: America's Sweetheart


Lucille Ball was the most beloved television personality in the early years of the medium. Her hit show I Love Lucy is the most watched show in the history of television. Ball was a comedienne who starred in radio, theater, and TV, as well as being a singer, and a model during her career.

Ball was born in Jamestown, New York on August 6, 1911 into a modest family. Her father was an electrician by trade, and shortly after her birth, moved the family to Montana to find work. The family eventually made Michigan their home after her father found work with the Michigan Bell Telephone Company. When Ball was just three years old, her father died unexpectedly. This put a series of tough financial times into motion for the now single parent family.

Ball's mother remarried after their return to Jamestown, but her step-father did not like children, so Ball was forced to live with her step-grandmother. Life with her step-grandmother was not easy. They often had little to eat, and couldn't afford the most basic needs. She was eventually reunited with her mother, and things got better for the teenager. Ball developed an interest in entertainment at this time, and tried modeling before moving to Los Angeles to hopefully start a career.

Ball was successful in landing acting jobs, almost immediately. She starred in a series of "B" movies, and met her first husband, Desi Arnaz, while filming Dance, Girl, Dance. This was the start of a film career that included 72 movies. Her biggest role came on TV though. Her show I Love Lucy debuted in 1951, and depicted the couple's life in New York City. It was one of the most popular shows in the history of television. Ball had become a bona fide star, and I Love Lucy is also the most syndicated show in history.

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