Costume Inspiration: Lucille Ball

Yes, Lucy was around in the 20’s and 30’s, well mostly the 30’s. Long before television and I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball began her career as a model in 1929. She began her stage career on the school stage as well as productions she put together at home. Her grandfather introduced her to Vaudeville at a young age and she was hooked. Ball lost her father in her youth and her mother did remarry. For a short period she and her brother even lived with their step-grand parents. They were a puritan Swedish couple ,who had no mirrors in their house except for one above the bathroom sink. The grand parents were so strict, when they caught a young Lucille admiring herself in the one mirror, she was punish greatly for her sin of vanity. 

Ball’s first fore on the stage was at the age of 12. By age 14 Ball was dating a man almost twice her age, her mother struggled to break the couple apart. She finally won the battle by paying for Lucille to attend the Murray Anderson school for Dramatic Arts in the New York City.  While at the school she became friends with fellow classmate Bette Davis. After a few years modeling, Ball made her way to the Broadway stage under the name Diane Belmont. 

By 1933, Ball was now settled in Los Angeles and appearing in Motion Pictures. She appeared in the supporting cast of many films during the mid-1930’s. Some are well known today, from the Marx Brothers “Room Service and a Three Stooges short. She also appeared in 3 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies and along side Katherine Hepburn in “Stage Door”. Ball grew tired of her typecast in supporting roles, so she branched out to radio and even returned the to the stage. 

In 1936, Ball registered to vote under the Communist party. After decades of investigations by the government and journalists, it turned out that Ball’s socialist grandfather had registered Ball as a communist. Hedda Hopper was one of many celebrities that came running to Ball’s defense, she was quoted “The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate”. Of coarse Ball survived the McCarthy era and went on to become the greatest pioneer of television.

Great Couples: Elsa Lanchester & Charles Laughton

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