As Classic TV history has shown, I Love Lucy has ended up being one of the most enduring sitcoms ever, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley and Vivian Vance bringing Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel to life for one generation after another. Although all of them, particularly Lucille, went on to enjoy further success after the show ended its run, nothing could quite compare to what they achieved on it.
Part of the reason for its success is undoubtedly because of the body of work that Lucille brought to it, honing her natural abilities as a comedian — as well as a dramatic actress — over the course of some 70 movies as well as her own radio show. By the time she reached television, she was more than ready to skyrocket as a star, bringing the audience along for the ride.
The question as far as Lucille is concerned, is how did it begin? Michael Karol, an expert on all things Lucille Ball, and author of Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia, The Lucy Book of Lists, The Lucille Ball Quiz Book, Lucy in Print and The Comic DNA of Lucille Ball, detailed to Closer in an exclusive interview regarding her rise in Hollywood: “The legend is that on the film Roman Scandals, one of the girls refused to take a mud pie in the face, fearing it would hide her beauty on screen. Well, Lucy stepped up and took her place. The director was Busby Berkeley who is said to have told Eddie Cantor to get that girl’s name; that she was the one who was going to make it. While you can’t deny that Lucy’s natural beauty at the time was her ace in the hole, Hollywood was, is and always will be filled with beauties ready for their close-ups. But Lucy was a comedian that combined looks and slapstick comedy so effectively. So her bit parts in movies turned into supporting parts and then starring roles in the late ’30s when she became known as the ‘Queen of the Bs.’”
There is so much more to Lucille Ball and how she ended up on I Love Lucy, which is discussed in this week’s episode of our Classic TV podcast above.