Today would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday, so it would be O'Bvious to salute her with an ASOTV spotlight. But while it may have been easier to use a picture of Rachel York in "Lucy" (because there are plenty of pictures to be found), I decided to focus on her early life.....
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Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American comedian, film, television, stage and radio actress, model, film and television executive, and star of the sitcoms 'I Love Lucy', 'The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour', 'The Lucy Show', 'Here's Lucy' and 'Life With Lucy'. One of the most popular and influential stars in America during her lifetime, with one of Hollywood's longest careers, especially on television, Ball began acting in the 1930s, becoming both a radio actress and B-movie star in the 1940s, and then a television star during the 1950s. She was still making films in the 1960s and 1970s.
Ball was born to Henry Durrell Ball (September 16, 1886 – February 19, 1915) and Desiree "DeeDee" Evelyn Hunt (September 21, 1892 – July 20, 1977) in Jamestown, New York. Although Lucy was born in Jamestown, New York, she told many people that she was born in Butte, Montana. At age 3, her family moved to Anaconda, Montana and then to Wyandotte, Michigan. Her family was Baptist; her father was of Scottish descent, and his mother was Mary Ball. Her mother was of French, Irish and English descent. Her genealogy can be traced back to the earliest settlers in the colonies.
Her father, a telephone lineman for Anaconda Copper, was frequently transferred because of his occupation, and within three years of her birth, Lucille had moved many times, from Jamestown to Anaconda, and then to Trenton. While DeeDee Ball was pregnant with her second child, Frederick, Henry Ball contracted typhoid fever and died in February 1915. Ball recalls little from the day her father died, only fleeting memories, a picture fell and a bird got trapped in the house. Ever since that day she had an intense bird phobia.
After her father died, Ball and her brother Fred Henry Ball (July 17, 1915 - February 5, 2007) were raised by her mother and grandparents in Celoron, New York a summer resort village on Lake Chautauqua just west of Jamestown. Her grandfather, Fred Hunt, was an eccentric who also enjoyed the theater. He frequently took the family to vaudeville shows and encouraged young Lucy to take part in both her own and school plays.
Four years after the death of her father, Ball’s mother DeeDee remarried. While her new step-father, Edward Peterson, and mother went to look for work in another city, Ball was left in the care of her new step-father’s parents. Ball’s new guardians were a puritanical Swedish couple who were so opposed to frivolity that they banished all mirrors from the house except for one over the bathroom sink. When the young Ball was caught admiring herself in it she was severely chastised for being vain.
This period of time affected Ball so deeply that in later life she claimed that it lasted seven or eight years, but in reality, it was probably less than one.
One good thing did come out of DeeDee's new marriage. Her new husband Ed was a Shriner. When his organization needed female entertainers for the chorus line of their next show, he encouraged his twelve-year-old stepdaughter to audition. While Ball was onstage she began to realize that if one was seeking praise and recognition, this was a brilliant way to receive it. Her appetite for recognition had thus been awakened at an early age. In 1927 her family suffered misfortune when their house and furnishings were taken away in a legal judgement after a neighborhood boy was accidentally shot and paralyzed by someone target-shooting in their yard, under Ball's grandfather's supervision. The family then moved into a small apartment in Jamestown.
In 1927, Ball dated a gangster's son by the name of Johnny DeVita. DeDe was unhappy with the relationship, but did nothing about it. She expected the romance to burn out in a few weeks. When that didn't happen DeDe took advantage of Lucille's desire to be in show business and "allowed" her to go to the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City. There, Ball attended with fellow actress Bette Davis. Ball went home a few weeks later when drama coaches told her that she "had no future at all as a performer."