Monday, December 26, 2011

Inspirational Icon Monday: Lucille Ball

I was so taken by Lucille Ball as a child. During school breaks, every morning at 10 am I would watch the back-to-back episodes of I Love Lucy that showed on Fox. I loved curling up in the pink and blue quilt my Mom made me with some hot cocoa, and dreaming about the day when I turned 23 (the age that I thought you were really an adult) and could wear all the beautiful full skirted dresses and pencil skirts with secretary blouses that this pretty redhead cloaked herself in while scheming with Ethel. Lucy was always complaining to Ricky that she didn't have any nice dresses, but I would have given anything to have her wardrobe be in my dress-up box.

I no longer cover my bedroom walls with calenders, 8x10 glossy photos or have little I Love Lucy trinkets sitting here and there, but...I might still wear purple I Love Lucy pajamas. I can't help loving her. She is a woman deserving of admiration.  It took her years to make it in show biz. Many disappointments of hopeful projects failing. Even I Love Lucy wouldn't have aired if she wouldn't have taken it on tour to the Vaudeville stage and proven to CBS that she could gather an audience for a sitcom about a kooky red head and her Cuban nightclub singing husband. I Love Lucy topped the ratings during its 1950-57 run and was the first show to ever have a pregnancy storyline. She believed in this story and it's relatability, and pushed for it to happen until the network finally was worn down.

Although she played a silly housewife on the small screen, she was anything but silly off. She took her career, her marriage, and her role as a mother seriously. Sometimes failing, but always striving for success. Married to Desi Arnaz in 1940, she developed I Love Lucy to save this marriage that was strained by his alcoholism, womanizing, and careers that kept them physically apart. Ball created a way to keep them in the same place so they could work on their marriage. She finally had a child at age 40 (unheard of in the 1950's) and another one a year and a half later. Motherhood and being a committed wife didn't slow down her career, however. She became the first woman to ever head a studio in 1962 with Desilu Productions.

Although her production company was a success and she went on to produce many other shows aside from I Love Lucy, and even star in several others, her marriage to Desi wasn't able to stand his continued infidelity and excessive drinking. They divorced in 1960 after 20 years of marriage, and they never had a bad word to say about the other whom they both always labeled, "the love of my life." Immediately after her divorce, Ball entered into another marriage with commedian Gary Morton that lasted the remaining 27 years of her life. She was a passionate woman. Devoted to everything she deemed important--family, friends, her career...and laughter. I don't know if there could have been a better television hero to have as a child: a woman who believed through all her set backs that anything was possible and did all she could to make those dreams come to fruition.

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