Happy 100th Birthday, Lucille Ball! 15 Things You Never Knew About TV's Funniest Lady
by Kim Potts, posted Aug 5th 2011 12:30PM
I love Lucy, you love Lucy, we all love Lucy! And in honor of what would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday on Aug. 6, here are 15 Lucy facts that might surprise you.
Betcha didn't know that:
1. After two decades spent trying to become a movie superstar, Lucille Ball was 40 years old when she finally became a Hollywood player with the debut of 'I Love Lucy' in 1951.
2. Lucy was not only a genius performer, but a smart, innovative businesswoman: she and husband/co-star Desi Arnaz introduced the idea of syndicating TV shows, and she was the first woman to own her own film studio (Desilu).
3. Among the other TV series produced by Desilu: 'Star Trek,' 'The Untouchables' and 'Mission: Impossible.'
4. She attended acting school in New York City ... with Bette Davis.
5. Like most other actresses in Hollywood, Lucy auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in 'Gone With the Wind.' But on her way to audition for producer David O. Selznick, she got caught in a rainstorm, was drenched, and had to audition wearing nothing but a long sweater she'd borrowed from Selznick's assistant.
6. Lucy was not only the Chesterfield cigarette girl, but also a Ziegfield Girl and Goldwyn Girl.
7. One of the most beloved episodes of 'I Love Lucy' -- 'Harpo Marx' -- guest-starred Harpo Marx and found Lucy and Harpo re-creating the Marx Brothers' famous mirror scene from 'Duck Soup.' Earlier in her career, Ball had starred with the Marxes in the big-screen comedy 'Room Service,' and with another famous comedy group, the Three Stooges, in the comedy short 'Three Little Pigskins.'
8. The birth of Little Ricky on 'I Love Lucy' -- and of Desi Arnaz Jr. in real life -- was featured on the very first TV Guide cover in 1953.
9. Desi Jr. dated the offspring of another Hollywood diva: Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli.
10. Lucy was a big fan of the sitcom 'Three's Company.' She even hosted a clip show special of the series in 1982.
11. In 1986, Lucy attempted a comeback with the dismal Aaron Spelling-produced ABC sitcom 'Life With Lucy' in 1986. The show, which found Lucy playing Lucy Barker, a widowed grandma who helped run her late husband's hardware store, also featured her 'The Lucy Show' and 'Here's Lucy' co-star Gale Gordon, but the rest of the cast was so forgettable that the comedy only aired for eight episodes before plummeting ratings led to its cancelation.
12. Lucy's last public appearance was in March 1989, at the 61st Oscar ceremony. She died the next month.
13. Lucy is in the National Women's Hall of Fame, which includes just one other TV star: Oprah Winfrey.
14. Lucy was a big fan of Betty White and 'The Golden Girls,' and appeared with White on various versions of the game show 'Password.' Lucy's mother, DeDe, was a close friend of Betty White's mother, Tess.
15. Lucy was an uncredited producer on the 1983 Tom Cruise football drama 'All the Right Moves.' Her second husband, Gary Morton, had co-produced the film via Lucy's Lucille Ball Productions.