More than 65 years after I Love Lucy debuted on TV, Lucille Ball's star continues to shine bright.
As Desi Arnaz once wrote: "I Love Lucy was never just a title."
As true as that sentiment was for Arnaz at the time, it continues to hold true for the millions of fans—spanning multiple generations—who follow the hilarious antics of one of TV's brightest and wittiest stars.
Although Lucille Ball appeared in 72 films over the course of her lengthy career, the stunning model-actress with the flame-red hair remains best known for her iconic title role in I Love Lucy. The half-hour CBS sitcom (which aired between 1951-1957, with 180 episodes) served as a launchpad for a new generation of TV stars and set Ball on her path as one of Hollywood's trailblazing women.
From the moment the series first aired on October 15, 1951, Ball became an instant household name thanks to her utterly unique and daring brand of physical comedy. Lucy, which centred around Ball's quirky housewife (and her far-fetched aspirations of fame) and her Cuban-born husband, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), left audiences in stitches each week. Throw in TV veterans Vivian Vance (as Ethel Mertz) and William Frawley (as Ethel's husband, Fred) and you have a recipe for success.
And all the while—as the series demolished competition in the ratings—Ball was doing more behind-the-scenes for women and people over 40 in Hollywood than she's often given credit for. Here, five reasons why we'll always love Lucy...
...She broke down social barriers
Remember when the word "pregnant" couldn't be uttered on television? According to site The A.V. Club, "CBS deemed [it] too vulgar." Yes, really! Well, Ball went on to become the first pregnant woman to actually play a pregnant woman on TV. The iconic 1953 episode when Lucy gives birth ("Lucy Goes to the Hospital") was watched by more than 44 million people. In fact, it aired the day before President Dwight D. Eisenhower's inauguration—and drew more than double the viewers than those tuning in to his swearing-in. Ironically, Ball gave birth to her son, Desi Jr., the same day the episode aired.
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