In 1940, Lucille Balled married her Cuban born husband Desi Arnaz. Together they developed the I Love Lucy show, which became one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.
Although Lucille and Desi were set on doing the program, they had to overcome a few obstacles first. For instance, a woman had never had the starring role in a television sitcom and the networks were not sure that Lucille could carry the show. The major obstacle, however, was her marriage to a Cuban. This would be the first time on a network television that a couple would be inter-racial. The networks were positive that no one would believe that Lucy was married to a foreigner. Lucille and Desi had to go on tour the summer before the show started to prove that the American public would receive them. Contrary to the networks belief, the public did accept them and the show began in 1951.
The I Love Lucy show also had a couple of other “firsts” in network programming. Lucy and Desi decided to film the series instead of doing it in front of a live audience. Because each episode was on film, they could reshow any episode at any time. They basically invented the term “rerun”. When the series ended, they sold the show to independent stations and made millions. This set the pattern for all of television. Also, for the first time ever on small screen, the lead character became pregnant. This worried the network superiors a lot. They were again afraid of the reaction of the American public. They felt that people would not want to see a pregnant woman on television. After consulting with censors and several clergymen, the network decided to go ahead with the show. The only affect it had was to bring in an even larger audience. It was a national event, on January 19, 1953 when Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky on television and Lucille Ball gave birth to her second son on the same night.
The success of the show was unparallel. On the nights I Love Lucy aired, the bulk of Americans stayed home in front of their television sets. The show was never ranked lower than third in the ratings. The I Love Lucy Show ended in 1957, but because of the rerun system that Lucille Ball and Desi created, it has never been off the air since. 2
In 1960, Lucille and Desi divorced. She went on to star in several films and also in two more television series, The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. Although both shows were very successful, they never quite reached the popularity of I Love Lucy.
Lucille Ball also made a difference in the business world when she became one of the first female heads of a production company. She headed Desilu Studios from 1962-1967 and Lucille Ball Productions form 1967-1989.
Even when she did not have a current series on T.V., Lucille was still well loved. Lucille Ball died on April 26, 1989 and the world lost an exceedingly accomplished actress. Lucille’s fervent work ethic and passionate fortitude to succeed took her very far through life and she paved the way for many women in the acting industry today. Throughout her life she had used her talent to make millions laugh and even after her death she still maintains the respect that she warranted while she was living.