“I’m not funny. What I am is brave.” -Lucille Ball
For the first of our new monthly Lydia Icons series, we knew we had to start with the incredible Lucille Ball. This world-famous comedienne has been bringing laughter into our homes for so long (62 years to be exact) that it can be hard to imagine a time when Lucy wasn’t the queen of the sitcom. But, did you know that she was something of a late bloomer? She was already 40 years old when her classic television show, I Love Lucy, first premiered. We take a look at some other little known facts about everyone’s favorite redhead, and more, after the jump.
- Lucille Ball was loyal to the brand of Chesterfield Cigarettes, but I Love Lucy was famously sponsored by Philip Morris Cigarettes — so Lucy used to hide her own brand in Philip Morris cigarette boxes.
- Lucy is one of only two television stars to be named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame — the other is Oprah Winfrey.
- After their divorce in 1961, Lucy bought out Desi Arnaz’s share of Desilu, making her the first woman to head a production company.
- She was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — one for her contributions to television and the other for her work in film.
- During the investigation of “Hollywood Radicals” by the HUAC (House on Un-American Activities Committee) in 1947, Lucy was blacklisted for having registered with the Communist party back in 1936. She claimed that she “knew nothing about politics” and only registered with the party to appease her grandfather, who was a zealous Socialist.
- She considered Desi Arnaz the love of her life, even after they divorced and both remarried. When Lucy passed away in 1989, her husband Gary Morton is said to have stated just minutes after her death, “I guess she’s happy now; she’s with Desi.”
- In 1986, Lucy attempted a television comeback with the Aaron Spelling-produced ABC sitcom Life With Lucy. 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 (along with former child star and ex- Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis) but the comedy only aired eight episodes before plummeting ratings led to its cancelation.
- It’s no secret that Lucy was a natural brunette; but she first dyed her hair red in 1942 when Technicolor films were introduced at MGM so she would stand out more on screen.
- Though Lucy has often been called “The Queen of Comedy” she was quoted as saying that the comedienne Carole Lombard was her idol, and was much more deserving of the title.
- Lucy has never been off the air since her television debut in 1951. In fact, it was she and Desi who were instrumental in creating the now well-known success of syndicated television.