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Overview for Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball


TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (20)

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Also Known As: Died: April 26, 1989
Born: August 6, 1911 Cause of Death: cardiac arrest after open heart surgery
Birth Place: Jamestown, New York, USA Profession: Cast ...


Inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame (1984), the founding year of the honor. A statue of Ball sits atop a fountain outside the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences headquarters in North Hollywood.

Ball was Harvard's Hasty Pudding Club's Woman of the Year in 1988

She was posthumously awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989

On August 7, 2001, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp honoring the comedienne.

Ball's greatest career threat came in the 1950s when she was investigated by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities for being a former member of the communist party. Arnaz told the press, "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and that's not even real." It was revealed that Ball's beloved grandfather, who had been more like a father in her life, was a left-winger. Communist party meetings may have been held at her home (when she was not there) by her grandfather. And, as she later told HUAC when confronted with a party membership card with her signature, she may have done that "just to keep grandfather happy in his old age." In fact, Ball was almost entirely apolitical and in the 1950s had not even bothered to vote for many years. Although the investigation caused CBS a scare--she was after all their biggest star--Ball was cleared of all suspicions and only the most fanatic anti-Communist held her past against her.

In an attempt to recreate the talent development program at RKO in which she had thrived, Ball started the Desilu Playhouse in the 1960s, gathering almost two dozen young performers to train by acting in plays. She maintained the program for about two years, when it was abandoned due to the time constraints of her career. Although no performer in the program became a "star", the list included Carole Cook, a frequently-working character player, and Robert Osborne, who later became a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and the on-camera host for Turner Classic Movies. Osborne had acted in what was to be a regular series role in the pilot of "The Beverly Hillbillies", but dropped out of that sitcom in order to participate in the Desilu talent program.

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