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Explore the timeline of the life and career of Lucille Ball.


Lucille Désirée Ball is born in Jamestown, New York. She often described her childhood in idyllic terms, but, truthfully, it was marred by multiple tragedies.


After a devastating accident, Lucy’s family loses their home, and the family is split up.

During this period, Lucy goes back and forth from Jamestown to New York City, trying to become an actress and surviving as a model.


Lucy achieves her first success on stage in the Jamestown Players production of Within the Law.


Lucy is offered the opportunity to work in Hollywood and makes her film debut as a Goldwyn Girl in Roman Scandals starring Eddie Cantor.


Lucy accepts a contract with Columbia Pictures but is laid off after working there only a few months. Just a few hours later, she gets a job at RKO as a model in Roberta.


Lucy receives notice for her supporting role in Stage Door, which she calls her “big break.”


Lucy earns leading lady status in the comedy Go Chase Yourself and gives herself the moniker “Queen of the B’s,” referring to the lower budget films in which she stars.  

Lucy hones her comedy skills on radio’s The Wonder Show starring Jack Haley. This is the beginning of a long and happy working association between Lucy and Gale Gordon.


Lucy plays the lead in the film version of the Broadway hit Too Many Girls. Among the stage performers who appear in the Hollywood version is 23-year-old Desi Arnaz. After a much-publicized whirlwind romance, Lucy and Desi marry on November 30.


Newlyweds Lucy and Desi buy a five-acre ranch in Chatsworth, California and christen it “Desilu.”


Lucy wins rave reviews for her portrayal of paralyzed nightclub performer Gloria Lyons in The Big Street, which she always calls her favorite of her films.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signs Lucy to a contract and her hair is dyed a vibrant red for the Technicolor production Du Barry Was a Lady.


Lucy files for divorce, but she and Desi reconcile before it is finalized.


Lucy tours the United States and Canada in the stage play Dream Girl and earns outstanding reviews.


Lucy stars in the radio situation comedy My Favorite Husband.


Trying to get CBS to buy them as a team for a television show, Lucy and Desi go on a multi-city vaudeville tour. The couple also forms their own production company, Desilu.


After years of trying to have a baby, Lucy gives birth to daughter Lucie Désirée Arnaz twenty days before her fortieth birthday.

On October 15, I Love Lucy premieres on CBS and revolutionizes the emerging television industry.


On January 19, Lucy gives birth to Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, better known as Desi Arnaz Jr., and that night, a record number of television viewers watch the birth of Little Ricky on I Love Lucy.  The following month, Lucy wins her first Emmy Award.

In September, Lucy is accused of having registered as a member of the Communist Party in 1936. After several days in which the fate of her career is held in the balance, Lucy is cleared of any wrongdoing.


Lucy and Desi’s film Forever, Darling has its world premiere in Jamestown, New York and the city goes all out to provide Lucy with a grand homecoming.


I Love Lucy ends its run still at the top of the ratings and the characters continue in occasional one-hour installments on The Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Show.  Later that year, Lucy and Desi buy RKO, the studio where they first met, and it becomes Desilu.


The Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Show ends and Lucy files for divorce from Desi after 19 years of marriage. Lucy throws herself into her work; earning great acclaim for the movie The Facts of Life co-starring Bob Hope and tackling Broadway with the musical Wildcat.


Lucy marries stand-up comic Gary Morton.


Lucy returns to television in The Lucy Show, in which she is joined by her I Love Lucy co-star Vivian Vance. Shortly afterwards, Lucy buys out Desi Arnaz’s share of Desilu Productions and becomes the first female studio head; solidifying her position as the most powerful woman in Hollywood.


Adding to her already busy schedule, Lucy hosts Let’s Talk to Lucy, a daily ten-minute talk show on CBS Radio where she interviews some of show business’ biggest stars.


Lucy sells Desilu, then producing such classics as The Lucy Show, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek, to Gulf + Western for $17 million.


Lucy ends The Lucy Show at the peak of its success and begins a new sitcom, Here’s Lucy, with her real-life teenaged children, Lucie and Desi Jr., as her onscreen kids. That same year, she has a major hit on the big screen with Yours, Mine and Ours.


Lucy ends Here’s Lucy and her final big screen movie, Mame, is released.


Playing an elderly bag lady, Lucy makes her first made for television movie, the dramatic Stone Pillow.


At the age of 75, Lucy returns to series television in Life with Lucy. ABC pulls the plug on the sitcom after filming 13 episodes; only eight of which aired. On December 2, Desi Arnaz dies at the age of 69. The day after attending her former husband’s funeral, Lucy flies to Washington, D.C. to receive the Kennedy Center Honor.


Lucy undergoes major heart surgery, which leads to an outpouring of love from all over the world and doctors are optimistic about her recovery. On April 26, 1989, after eight days in the hospital, Lucille Ball unexpectedly passes away of a ruptured aorta.