Remembering Lucille Ball 27 Years After Her Death, 'I Love Lucy'

On April 26, 1989, 77-year-old Lucille Désirée Ball passed away after undergoing heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center approximately a week before. The world lost one of its foremost comedians and Lucille "Lucy" Ball left a legacy that would touch the lives of generations to come. Though best known for her television program I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball started in show business as a model, Chesterfield cigarette girl and as an actress in plays. She appeared in a number of movies, sometimes cast in comedic, zany roles; other times as a more serious, glamorous woman. It wouldn't take long, however, for the public to recognize Lucille Ball's natural flair for comedy. After marrying Desi Arnaz, the two traveled in a vaudeville act. The couple would later take their vaudeville act to television studios with the I Love Lucy show.

Watch as Barbara Walters interviews Lucille Ball in the video below.
You can learn more about Lucille Ball, watch interviews, and hear her biography in the following video playlist.
While Lucille Ball is continually remembered for her wit, comic antics, and popular shows like I Love Lucy, there are many who always remember Lucille for her glamour, style, and grace.Born on August 6, 1911, in Jamestown, New York, Lucille's father died from Typhoid fever when Lucy was only 4-and-a-half-years-old. Her family (consisting of her mother, and also her brother Fred Ball) moved to Celoron, New York, and stayed with her grandparents. Lucy's mother remarried several years later and the family eventually moved back to Jamestown. Lucille eventually took acting classes at the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts where Bette Davis also attended classes. In the late 20s, Lucille was modeling. In the 30s, she had secured much work as an actress. Lucille Ball starred as the Chesterfield Cigarette girl in a number of print ads. However, it would be through her work on stage and screen that Lucille Ball would ultimately leave her mark.Lucille Ball had 5 television series including I Love Lucy (1951-1957); The Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Show (1957-1960); The Lucy Show (1962-1968); Here's Lucy (1968-1974) and Life with Lucy (1986). She made three, made-for-TV movies, had three television specials and appeared in more than 70 movies. You may see a complete filmography for Lucille Ball at the Museum of TV's Lucille Ball page.

Lucille Ball was a ground breaker as she appeared in her own television show that bore her name from 1951-1974. When she and her husband Desi Arnaz divorced, she bought the TV studio Desilu and became the first woman in history to own her own production studio. It might come as no surprise that she was a tremendous inspiration and role model to fellow female comedian and actress Carol Burnett.

Speaking to People magazine earlier this year, Carol Burnett told a story of how her friendship with Lucy helped her take control of her own show. Carol stated the following in the interview.

"Lucy told me when she got a divorce she had to do all the stuff that Desi did and the first table read on the Lucy Show stunk." After the disastrous table read, Ball went into her office and realized at that moment she had to be bold and take charge.

"She said to me, 'Kid, that is when they put the 'S' on the end of my last name." Carol Burnett continued to explain how the advice helped her with the Carol Burnett show.

"If I spoke up or did what Jackie Gleason did... Men could get away with it. But in my era, I would have been labeled a [expletive]."

Burnett quickly learned how to tip-toe around a work problem.

"Instead of saying, 'guys this stinks we've got to fix it,' I would say, 'I am not doing this right, can you help me out here?'"

Something Carol Burnett once shared about Lucille Ball's death has resonated with many fans. According to Carol, Lucy always made certain to send her flowers on her birthday. Carol Burnett's birthday is April 26, the same day that Lucille Ball died. Carol said that she found out her good friend had passed away, and later that afternoon received her traditional birthday flowers that Lucy had prearranged to send.What are your favorite memories of Lucille Ball?

[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]