"Here's Lucy": Why We Still Love Lucille Ball

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Lucille Ball circa 1955.

    Madcap, hilarious, groundbreaking, enduring and magical. Those adjectives and more have been used to describe comedy icon Lucille Ball, who would have turned 103 on August 6 and whose series "Here's Lucy" debuts on COZI TV on August 11.

    A four-time Emmy winner, Ball was the star of the sitcoms "I Love Lucy" (1951-1957), "The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour" (1957-1960), "The Lucy Show" (1962-1968), "Here's Lucy" (1968-1974) and "Life with Lucy" (1986).

    Labeled America's favorite redhead, Ball had a profound effect on television: both onscreen as an actress, and behind the scenes as a business and development pioneer.

    Numerous actors and entertainers cite Ball as a major influence on their careers including Carol Burnett, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Debra Messing, and Ball's effect on television is still felt 25 years after her passing.

    In honor of her recent birthday and return to screens via NBC Universal's COZI TV, here's 10 reasons we still, and always will, love Lucy.

    1. Many think of Ball's character on "I Love Lucy" as a young housewife. In reality, Ball spent the two decades prior to appearing on the program as a Hollywood studio player, taking small roles in feature films, and even working as a Ziegfeld girl. Ball was 40 years old when "I Love Lucy" debuted in 1951.

    2. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "I Love Lucy" was the first television series to show an interracial couple (Ball and Cuban-born husband Desi Arnaz). It also was the first to feature a pregnant woman playing a pregnant woman.

    3. The birth of their son Little Ricky (Desi Arnaz Jr. in real life) on "I Love Lucy" was featured on the very first TV Guide cover in 1953.

    4. "I Love Lucy" proved more popular than President Dwight Eisenhower: 29 million viewers tuned in to watch Eishenhower's presidential inauguration on January 20, 1953. The following day, 44 million people sat down to watch the"I Love Lucy" episode in which Lucy gives birth to little Ricky. That was 72% of all U.S. homes with TVs, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

    5. Ball and Arnaz pioneered the 3-camera technique, now a standard in modern television series production.

    6. Ball was the first woman to head a Hollywood studio, Desilu, which produced "Star Trek," "The Andy Griffith Show," "My Three Sons," "My Favorite Martian," "The Untouchables" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

    7. She was born in Jamestown, New York in 1911 and the city plays host each year to a comedy festival named in Ball's honor. This year's fest runs August 6-10 and includes appearances by Jay Leno, Tom Cotter and Caroline Rhea.

    8. On February 8, 1960, Ball was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one at 6436 Hollywood Boulevard for contributions to motion pictures, and one at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard for television.

    9. Ball is only one of two television stars inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. The other is Oprah Winfrey.

    10. On what would have been her 100th birthday in 2011, Google honored Ball with an interactive doodle on their homepage. It featured seven classic moments from the "I Love Lucy" sitcom including the grape-stomping episode, Arnaz crooning "We're Having a Baby," and the hysterical chocolate factory scene also featuring actress Vivian Vance as neighbor Ethel Mertz.