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Television Legend Lucille Ball Didn't Like Direction Television Was Turning

Lucille Ball was told by her early acting teachers that she would never find much success in the entertainment business. The famous redhead didn't give up, however, and she began taking modeling jobs.

She then started acting in films, mostly 'B movies', in small roles. She never found fame in films, but then she made a smart move: she went to television. Not only did she become a household name, but she transformed what television was.

Ball is a household name to this day. She is instantly recognizable to almost anyone who has ever seen television. A few years before she died, she gave an in-depth interview to David Fantle and Tom Johnson.

Fantle and Johnson picked up as teenagers and began traveling around the country to interview their favorite Hollywood actors. They've now put 75 of those powerful interviews together for their book, “Hollywood Heydey." They sat with Ball to talk about her career in 1980, just nine years before the legend died.

Ball is best known for playing a screwball red-headed housewife in the 1950's black-and-white sitcom, "I Love Lucy." She played opposite her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz, a Cuban band leader. Arnaz's character Ricky Ricardo was a band leader in the show with aspirations of becoming a Hollywood star, and his wife Lucy was always trying to get into the show.

The pair were balanced out by the Fred and Ethel Mertz, their best friends (and sometimes frenemies) and landlords who lived downstairs, and former vaudeville performers.

"I Love Lucy" was not expected to be a success. In fact, the network turned the show down at first after seeing the pilot, but Ball and Arnaz took the skit on the road and it was a smash.

The show was made, and the rest was history. It ran from 1951 through 1959. Ball went on to star in a string of other television shows, including 'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour', 'The Lucy Show', 'Here's Lucy', and 'Life With Lucy'.

Lucy was a groundbreaker. She was one of the first women to breakout as a Hollywood star on television. She was one of the first women to star in a television show. She was one of the first women to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which went on to produce such huge hits as 'Star Trek' and 'Mission: Impossible'.

"I Love Lucy" was a television pioneer for television production. It was one of the first to film in front of a live audience with multiple cameras, with distinct sets, and with sets adjacent to each other. It was the first show to feature Ball’s real-life pregnancy, and the episode in which Lucy Ricardo gave birth to ‘Little Ricky’ garnered 40-million viewers.

After all her experience in television, Ball didn’t have much hope for where TV was headed by the 1980s.

“She used the term ‘downhill’ and ‘leaving us,’” Fantle recalled. “She was very cynical about the state of television back then we interviewed her… She was no-nonsense. She was not funny. Instead, she was all business."

"She was really the first woman superstar to break the glass ceiling in Hollywood as not just as a performer, but as a movie mogul and executive," he added.

“She said the only person she would really watch when she ever looked at her own TV shows was Vivian Vance,” said Johnson.

Vance was Ball’s co-host in ‘I Love Lucy’.

“She always watched her. She said, ‘God bless her.’ She loved working with her… She genuinely thought Vivian Vance was a crackup. She loved her. Probably second only to Dean Martin as someone who could make her laugh.”

Source: Fox News
Photos: YouTube, Wikimedia Commons/LA Times, Alan Light

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