Happy 100th birthday to Lucille Ball! Lucy is easily one of the most beloved pop culture icons of all time. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who can’t recognize her picture, name one of her films, or describe one of the many classic scenes from I Love Lucy. Everyone has their own reasons why they love Lucy, here are just a few of mine:
1. Plain and simply, she’s hilarious!
2. She was the first woman to own her own studio. When she and Desi divorced, she bought out his half of Desilu studios and continued to run the studio very successfully on her own. Lucy had a very keen eye for shows that she thought would have a lasting appeal and she’s the one to thank for green-lighting classic shows like Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and The Untouchables.
3. Television simply wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for Lucy. I Love Lucy was the first show filmed in the multi-camera style to be filmed in front of a live audience and the first show to prove that there is a market for reruns. Lucy and Desi didn’t want to move to New York to do the show, they wanted to stay in Los Angeles. At that time, most prime time shows were broadcast live from New York, recorded by a kinescope, and then the kinescope recordings were aired on the west coast. Since the quality of kinescope recordings were far inferior to the live broadcast quality, the only way to do a show in Los Angeles and have it look good in east coast airings would be to actually film the show and edit it. Lucy and Desi offered to take pay cuts to cover the extra production costs, but only if Desilu could keep the rights to each episode after it aired. At the time, nobody saw the potential value in re-running shows, so they got their wish. Of course, Lucy and Desi got the last laugh because they went on to make a fortune in syndication.
4. Lucy has a history of getting the last laugh. When she was young, she went to a dramatic school in New York and was told that she was too shy to have any future in showbiz. And after being dubbed the Queen of the B Movies, Desilu studios went on to buy the old RKO backlot where she made a lot of those B movies.
5. Lucy got the best classic film guest stars for her shows. Who can forget the Harpo Marx and John Wayne episodes of I Love Lucy? I remember liking the Betty Grable episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. She also got Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Jack Benny, and Ginger Rogers for episodes of Here’s Lucy as well as Joan Crawford for an episode of The Lucy Show.