Lucille Ball was a television superstar who didn't rely on her looks to make her famous, though her unconventional, wide-eyed beauty certainly didn't hurt. She was instead known for her humor, physical comedy, and amazing sense of timing. Not to mention that she also had some pretty stellar business sense. The fiery redhead wasn't afraid to push boundaries, and together with her first husband Desi Arnaz became a silver screen legend and wealthy mogul. While her relationship with Arnaz was rocky, her success was not. Here are some rarely-seen images of the iconic I Love Lucy star.
This photo captures funny gal Lucille Ball sharing her time, and most likely a few laughs, with some patients at a children's hospital in New York City in approximately 1955. During that visit, she stopped in and spent some time with various patients at the hospital.
Little is known about the kids she visited and why she specifically chose to visit them, but for both adults and kids alike, laughter is also ways the best medicine. Even doctors agree that is can be an effective antidote to a patient's fear and anxiety. Ball continued to make such visits throughout her life.
At Their Film Premier
Here are Lucille Ball and her husband and partner-in-comedy Desi Arnaz, at the premiere of a film they'd starred together in called The Long, Long Trailer. The premiere took place at Radio City Music Hall and the couple got to go backstage, where they met the famous Rockettes, as we see in this photo.
When the film was released in 1954, the studio worried that people wouldn't want to pay to see the couple in the theater when they could watch them together for free on television. Arnaz bet the studio $25,000 that the film would make more money than the highest-grossing comedy at that time, and he won that bet.
The Arnaz Family
Lucy and Desi are absolutely glowing with pride at the christening of thier baby boy, Desi, Jr. Desi's mother, Dolores Lolita Arnaz, is the woman in the photo holding the baby, who was crying as most do during their baptism.
Dolores was considered one of the most beautiful and prominent women in Latin America. Her father, Alberto, was one of the three original founders of the Bacardi Rum Company. The family was quite wealthy, and owned three ranches and two mansions. Then in 1933, they lost everything to the Cuban revolution and resulting dictatorship.
There must've been a number of cameras trying to capture this moment, as both Desi's and Lucille's eyes are focused in different places. The lovely moment was the first time ever that their baby daughter, Lucie Desiree Arnaz, had her picture taken by the press. Little Lucie eventually got into acting herself, having first appeared alongside her parents on The Lucy Show when she was 12 years old.
She went on to star in such films as The Jazz Singer. She then created a genealogy software package that helped people learn how to digitize important data and documents.
Ready For My Close-Up
Here is a great close-up shot of Lucille in New York, taken around 1970. Ball continued to reign as the queen of television comedy throughout the 1960s and 1970s with two more shows: The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. Both aired on CBS and ranked among the top ten shows on TV. The Lucille Ball franchise raked in millions in revenue from advertising and merchandise throughout the years.
The success of all of her shows helped make CBS one of the leading television networks, not even taking into account the success they'd see from all of the re-runs playing on syndication.
Lucille sports a wide-brimmed hat for this promotional shot for RKO Pictures, circa 1940. She had signed a contract with RKO Studios during the 1930s. Through them, she appeared in several small roles, including in Top Hat in 1935, as well as some starring roles in mainly `B` movies. She did star in the occasional `A` film, however, such as Stage Door in 1937.
When her contract with RKO was up, she then signed one with MGM, which really helped launch her career. She went on to star in Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), Best Foot Forward (1943), and Without Love (1945) alongside Katherine Hepburn.
Lucille is captured standing between the film legend Elizabeth Taylor and her then-husband and fellow movie star, Richard Burton. They met during a 1970s episode of Here's Lucy. During the episode, movie star Burton is trying to hide from fans by disguising himself as a plumber.
Lucy mistakes him for a real plumber and has him fix a sink in her office. She finds a diamond ring in his discarded overalls, tries it on, and it of course gets stuck. The ring ended up belonging to Liz Taylor.
Growing Up In The Spotlight
Lucille and Desi, who had been married for 19 years at the time, brought along the children to a press conference at a Savoy Hotel in London. Desi Jr. was six years old and his big sister Lucie was eight. They were traveling. there to promote the release of a new I Love Lucy series on Associated-Rediffusion, Britain's commercial TV network from 1954 to1968
With both parents having to work together, the kids often accompanied them to many events. According to Lucy, they were "happy, adjusted kids" grateful to be in New York.
Comedian Gary Morton first met Lucille Ball in New York City in 1960, a few months before she opened up for the Broadway musical Wildcat. He claimed to know nothing of her fame because his hectic schedule had him working in the evenings, and he'd never seen an episode of I Love Lucy.
The two starting dating, and married the following year. Morton was quite different from Desi, as he was loyal, honest and didn't mind being in Ball's shadow. He even had no problem signing a cast iron pre-nup prior to the marriage.
Fellow funny gal and actress Beatrice Arthur became friends with Lucille. Here we see the duo in 1973 hanging out in Los Angeles. When the movie version of Auntie Mame was made in 1973, Ball was chosen to play the lead in place of the TV show's star Angela Lansbury.
Ball insisted that Arthur, who played the leading character's best friend in the show, was brought on to do the film as well. Soon after, Arthur was starring in her own television series (Maude) for which she eventually won an Emmy.
A first birthday is always a special day for any child's parents. The birthday guy or girl, on the other hand, never remembers any of it. Lucie Desiree Arnaz was turning one in this photo, and the trio celebrated at their North Hollywood ranch home.
Little Lucie spent her entire life being compared to her mother, especially since she followed her footsteps into show business. For example, people would often be surprised to learn that she could dance, because her mother couldn't, often forgetting that her father was a dancer. "I could be compared to worse people," Lucie once stated.
Love At First Sight
This humorous photo was circulating around 1950, showing Lucille's face appearing to her hubby through the page of a newspaper.
Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball met in 1940 on the set of the RKO Studios musical Too Many Girls, and it was love at first sight. The two lovebirds were married that same year. During the first four years of thier relationship, Ball starred in Hollywood films and a hit radio show while Arnaz toured with his band. He became known for his womanizing ways during that time, and she filed for divorce in 1944, but Arnaz talked her out of going through with it.
The Second Set Of Wedding Bells
This was taken the day of Lucille's wedding to comic Gary Morton. They had just finished their wedding ceremony in Marble Collegiate Church with an intimate attendance of 40 guests. The ceremony was delayed because a huge crowd of fans, around 1,500 people, showed up and Lucille had difficulty getting to the door. During the ceremony, they stood outside the church and chanted "I Love Lucy."
When reporters approached Ball after her marriage ceremony in New York’s Marble Collegiate Church in 1961, she told them “I look forward to a nice quiet life.”
This photo was taken at a benefit in September of 1948, put on by various Hollywood stars in conjunction with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, in order to raise money for St. John's Hospital. The man Ball is talking to is the fellow comedic actor and radio star Ed Wynn, who became famous for his ridiculous costumes and props.
The two starred together in a silent movie sketch for his show, The Ed Wynn Show. Desi Arnaz also appeared in the sketch, singing "Babalu." Arnaz and Lucy had just been recently married at the time.
Lucy was quite a stunning beauty in her early days and even had a budding modeling career. Sh turned to radio as a way to make ends meet, as there was more work there for her. Her radio show "My Favorite Husband" eventually became a TV series, and served as an inspiration to her follow up sit TV sitcom I Love Lucy.
This photo was taken in 1938, when Ball appeared on the radio program called "The Phil Baker Show." The radio show was was an extension of Baker's vaudeville career.
After eight years, Lucille finally made the decision to go at it alone, and took a role of a boxing manager named K.O. Katty in a television comedy with Aldo Ray, depicted here, and Bill Lundigan. The show was Desilu Playhouse, and it was Lucy's first television role in which she was not playing Lucy Ricardo.
Lucy's character K.O. Katty was a dance teacher who ended up inheriting a boxer. The only way he could win a boxing match was if Katty sang “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby” during the match.
Mother's Day was an important day for Lucille. She had been just selected as the "Television Mother of the Year" by a company called The Flowers-By-Wire. In this photo, Ball is seen wearing a special Mother's Day eight-rose corsage. The corsage was designed by Alyn Wayne, "official flower stylist of the 9,600 member Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association".
Lucy's character was an admirable and influential figure to mothers around the country. A woman who balanced a career while being a housewife and mother was a completely new concept for most of the mothers in society at that time.
The Dogs Love Ball
Who can get enough of dogs? No one can, that's who. With the sight of her gorgeous home as the backdrop, Lucille Ball is living it up here with her pups in clear view.
As the dogs seem to be more focused on their mom than taking the picture, Ball steals the show as she poses elegantly next to her outdoor set. Few others had the grace that Ball emits just by being herself.
Heart Of Gold
Ball once again visited patients at a children’s hospital, this time in Los Angeles in 1980. There she met Tony Jacobsen, a nine-year-old boy born with a genetic disorder that made his bones vulnerable to breaking. He was in the hospital waiting for a surgery for a fractured leg.
The boy's mother was a huge fan of Ball's and had passed along that adoration to her son. “I remember her being so nice and sweet and just very comforting, very interested in what was going on with me,” Jacobsen said. "I was just so happy to have met her, and I do think that happiness brought on faster healing."
Award Ceremony For The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
A legendary actress, this photo was taken the year Lucille Ball won the Governors Award from the Television Arts & Sciences. It isn't the only prestegious award she recieved during her career either.
During her time in Hollywood, Ball was the recipient of two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors, as well as an induction into the Television Hall of Fame.
In honor of Mother's Day, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz took a snuggly snapshot beside their beloved mothers. Mrs. Desiree Ball is next to Lucille, and Mrs. Lilita Arnaz beside her son.
After her father died when she was three, Lucy and her brother were raised by their mother and maternal grandparents. Lucy's mom, who went by DeDe, was her greatest supporter and would visit her regularly on her film and television sets. She too was in show business at one time, starring as a concert pianist in Jamestown, N.Y.
Who knew Lucille Ball could do other's makeup too? Here she is penciling the brows of American boxer Maxie Rosenbloom. The two were on set of director Charles Vidor's movie, Muss 'em Up.
The two are both all smiles and for a good reason. Who wouldn't be happy to have Lucy do their makeup on for them? The comedian and actress was beautiful so to help beautify another person is a bonus for them.
Vintage Bathing Suit Look
If there is anybody that can look spectacular in anything, then it's Lucille Ball. Here she is in 1940 sporting a nice vintage one-piece bathing suit. She also has the classic hairdo we all came to love.
Either she was having fun, or the star had a photoshoot that day. Why else would she be hanging from a rope that way? We don't exactly know, but she looks darn good while doing it.
Stylish In 1941
If there was one thing for sure about Lucy, it's that she was funny. However, we can also throw in that she was quite stylish. Here she is in 1941 with a pretty neat outfit.
The shimmery coat decked out with dark stripes on top of the all black top and bottom is the perfect compliment. The shoes match the jacket. Lucy stares off like she knows her outfit is all that. We're sensing a bit of sassiness here!
Your Move, Lucy
By now, you know how multitalented Lucille Ball was. The star actress is here dancing with coach Charles Walters. This moment happened in 1944 while Ball practiced for a film.
The film was DuBarry was a Lady. By the looks of the motion captured in this picture, the dancing had to be some good. To be so funny and even have a list of great dance moves to break out is something she should have felt accomplished about with herself.
Riding With The Top Down
Who doesn't love this match made in heaven? These two were gold on the screen together and are still great in photos. Here the two are in 1950 with the convertible top down. Ball has her fancy hat on, and Desi has his slick hair to complete the scene.
It doesn't matter where they were going, all that matters is that they were going. Seeing two people happy together is a pleasurable experience to witness.
It's A Bird, It's A Plane!
Even the mighty Superman succumbed to the charm of Lucille Ball. George Reeves towers above Ball in this picture from 1956. This picture took place during the episode "Lucy and Superman."
This is an iconic photo for sure. It's not every day you get to see two nostalgic legends exchange glances. This picture would be perfect for any young Ball fan out there. Having a poster of this on your bedroom wall would be a lovely sight every day.
Pretty In Green
Everyone knows that when it's time to step out to the nightclub, you wear your adventurous outfits. Or at least, the outfits you wouldn't usually wear. Here, Lucille Ball does just that.
Ball was hanging out at Ciro's nightclub located in West Hollywood. This 1950 photo showcases her with a simple yet outgoing all white strapped dress with green floral designs on it. The gold chain and pearl necklace make the outfit complete.
Doggy Time With Ball
What's better than two Cocker Spaniels? The answer is three and Lucille Ball knew that. Imagine coming home to three of these precious little characters. If your mood doesn't shift to positive immediately, then you had a rough day.
Ball and Desi were here playing with them on the sofa back in 1950. You can tell by Ball's face that she was excited to be in the presence of these pups. Can you blame her?
The TV series always portrayed Desi as your typical working man. Head over heels with his wife Ball; he had to find some ways to spend more time with her. Why not read a little with her?
Even in the picture he looks stressed. Meanwhile, Ball seems genuinely interested in what she's reading. She also has a cigarette in her hand enjoying the tobacco. Sure, what they're viewing might be different, but as long as they're reading together.
What's Better Than Breakfast In Bed?
After you've spent a long day and night working hard, a good night's rest is one of the best feelings. Getting a chance to sleep in a while would be even better. The best would be getting great sleep with some extra time and having breakfast delivered to you.
In 1955, it looked like that may have been what Ball did during her stay at the Hilton Hotel. She's all cozy with the paper in her hand ready to get in motion so that she can begin her day.
Kisses From Mamma
A mother's kiss is unmatched. It carries all the love she has built up for you every time so each kiss is better than the last. Her son Desi Arnaz Jr felt the love on this day in the late '50s.
The picture happened in the backyard of her Los Angeles home. Desi Jr is dressed up as a drum major, fully equipped with a baton. And if you look close enough, you can see the little doggo.
With a busy life, it can be hard to sit down and reflect. Moments of introspection are replaced with fans screaming your name. Whether or not this picture is candid doesn't matter. Lucille Ball had at least five minutes to think to herself with a view like this. At least we hope.
This picture happened in 1965 on the balcony of her apartment at the New York Hilton Hotel. Located in Manhattan, this apartment provides glamourous visuals.
That's right, what you are now seeing is Betty White and Lucille Ball pictured together. Two of the most respected comedians in the business hugged up close. Some may say these ladies helped open the door for other women comedians.
Betty and Lucille had a special friendship for 30-plus-years and considered each other family. These two were snapped together in this photo in 1987, at a book signing for Betty's new autobiography.
Family Portrait Status
Family pictures always will make your insides feel warm and cozy. You don't need much to take one either. Something scenic like a tree in the background works well. Lucille Ball and her kids have the right idea here.
The 1965 image puts Ball in a beautiful family element that we might not have seen in her TV show. Lucie Arnaz looks just like her mom in this picture even without smiling. Desi Jr is just hanging around.
A Night With The Stars
We all need some time for fun, right? Whether that leisure time is going to the movies and relaxing or getting dressed up for a night on the town, it needs to happen. It looks like Ball chose the latter on this day.
Standing alongside Gary Morton, Ball is also next to one Sammy Davis Jr. This happened at a Friars Club benefit. The two are all smiles as it looks like they heard a funny joke.
Always Look Sharp At Your Own Party
Even as she got up there in age, Lucille Ball always knew how to look great. Here she is in 1974 donning an all-red outfit with the ruby-encrusted diamond rosary around her neck. Her lips and nails are also a matching red.
What was the occasion? Ball was attending a party thrown for her. They were celebrating her lead role in the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Mame in New York, New York at Sutton Place townhouse.
After The Los Angeles Premiere
Sticking with the fashion trends, Ball did not disappoint with this look. PETA might have had some words for the actress, but fans probably couldn't get enough of this.
Decked out in a massive fur coat, Ball was pictured here back in 1974. The previous slide showed her at her New York party for the Mame film. This picture takes place in Los Angeles after the premiere. She had to stay cozy in the night.
Up For A Game?
Gambling and having a good time seem to go hand in hand. You could be gambling for fun, or you can put your money where your mouth is. For Ball, it looks like she might have done both.
Her big smile indicates that she's having a good time. It could also mean that she just won a lot of money. Either way, it goes, the only time gambling ends badly is if you lose your whole savings account.
Are You Afraid Of Roller Coasters?
Many are afraid of roller coasters. A lot are petrified of ghosts as well. Well, Lucy puts both of those fears to rest in one picture from 1955. Here Ball is seated and ready for takeoff.
She was at an amusement park in Paris with her daughter Lucie. You can't see her daughter, but rest assured Ball isn't enjoying this roller coaster by herself. However, that smile she has is telling. It almost looks like she's a bit afraid of the ride.
The Most Experienced Woman In The Industry
The general public might have already known, but it didn't become official until the Guinness Book of Records acknowledged it. Yes, there is a record for Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female). White claimed this title way back in 2014.
White started her career in 1939, the same year as British TV host Bruce Forsyth also began his. Had there not been categories divided by gender, they would have tied for the record title in a neck-and-neck race.
She's The Oldest To Host Saturday Night Live
Buckle up and get ready for many accomplishments from White. Not only does she hold the Guinness World Record for women with the most extensive TV career, but she also holds the title for the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live.
After turning producer Lorne Michaels down three times, White finally accepted the duty. At 88, she called it the "scariest thing she's ever done." The second oldest to host was Miskel Spillman, but she beat him by eight years.
Keep The Awards Coming!
When it comes to awards, White is no novice. She might as well have a room dedicated to all the trophies she's earned in her long career. The number of her nominations alone will make you say wow.
White has 18 Emmy nominations to her name and six Emmy's she gets to call hers. She was inducted into the Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1995, and has a star on the infamous Hollywood Walk of Fame next to her late husband Allen Ludden- more on him later.
When Duty Calls...
The journey is just as important as the destination. And for White, that couldn't be closer to the truth. Before she became the star that America loves and cherishes, she was doing her part serving her country.
That's right, animal activist, comedian, and actress White enlisted as a member of the American Women's Voluntary Services. She drove a PX truck in the heat of WWII. This was something that prolonged her overall success she would later obtain.
Humble Beginnings For White
Piggybacking off the comment that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination, White's early career was humbling. She started out as an assistant for her local TV station. No one knew what that would turn into for her.
It wasn't until the early '50s that White would see herself in a big TV role on Life With Elizabeth. Thanks to her work prior to that, co-hosting Hollywood on Television, the ball really got rolling for White. Up next, White was the first woman to do a lot! See what all the firsts led to for her...
White Becomes Honorary Mayor
If there's one thing that you say White is famous for then that's being first. White was one of the first women to earn an Emmy nomination, and the first woman to have full creative control over her own TV show.
All of those first's led to another milestone for White. She was the first woman to produce a sitcom, and Hollywood decided to tip their hat to her, naming White the honorary mayor of Hollywood back in 1955.
For The Love Of Animals
If there's anyone who loves animals more than White, point them out. We find it hard to believe that there is a human who cherishes the animal kingdom as much as she does. White won't even accept movie roles if there is any animal abuse.
When she says she prefers animals over humans, you had better believe her. White turned down the part of Helen Hunt's mom in As Good As It Gets because Jack Nicholson's character put a puppy down the laundry chute (more on this soon.)
First Time Meeting Obama Led To Zoo Talk
White's affinity for pets doesn't take a back seat when meeting the president. When she met Obama for the first time in 2012, the presidential dog, Bo, spent half an hour in White's lap.
They asked White what she would do if she wasn't in entertainment and her answer, without hesitation, was "zookeeper." That job was unavailable to her when she was growing up so that probably adds to her desire. White and puppies are a great mix.
Marriage Was For Fun Until...
One of the many characteristics that White is known for is her raunchiness. The queen of comedy is also a romantic, but early on she was marrying for the thrill of it all. Just ask her first husband Dick Barker. The two got married primarily to sleep together.
She says they spent six months in bed together before the divorce. She got married again, but it wasn't until her third marriage when things got serious with Allen Ludden.
What's A Good Diet Anyway?
You would think that someone who has aged so gracefully and still kicking would have a great diet. That isn't the case for White. In fact, that's the complete opposite of how she's living. And you won't believe what she chooses to eat.
According to her co-star Jane Leeves, "She eats Red Vines, hot dogs, French fries, and Diet Coke. If that's key, maybe she’s preserved because of all the preservatives." Her other co-star Wendie Malick agreed with that statement by saying she "seems to live off hot dogs." Up next, White's biggest regret.
White's Biggest Regret
When they say its best to give flowers to those while they can still smell them, you had better listen. White's biggest regret in life stems from her late husband Ludden, her third husband. He passed away in 1981 due to stomach cancer.
While on Oprah's show, White revealed that she wishes she would have married Ludden a year earlier. They were together for 18 years prior to his passing. She had wasted a whole year of them not being married when they could have been.
In Love With Parades
Add one more thing to White's list of affinities. White is a huge fan of parades. Any and all parades are on her list. Hop in the time machine and you'll be able to see her host the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade between 1962 and 1971. She hosted that one alongside Lorne Greene.
To up the ante, White spent 20 years working as a color commentator for the Roses Parade tournament. Both of these parades were hosted by NBC.
All For Equal Rights
Not only does she support animal rights, but White also sides with the LGBTQ community as well. Perhaps she doesn't support them as much as her animals, but she does stick up for them when asked.
"I don't care who anybody sleeps with," White said. "If a couple has been together all that time -- and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones -- I think it's fine if they want to get married."
America Loves Betty!
It's not a mystery that America loves Betty White. What's not to love? In 2011, a poll was created to prove White's fan base. 2,000 U.S. citizens answered that White was the most trustworthy celebrity. What a title to hold.
To make things better, 44% of those 2,000 Americans revealed they would be more inclined to use a product if it were backed by White. That goes for companies as well.
Lifetime Achievement Award
It took some time, but it finally happened. Betty White received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award at the 42nd Daytime Emmy Awards. This was just another achievement to add to her long list. The praise she received is always well warranted.
NATAS president Bob Mauro said, "Betty's career as a female pioneer has followed television from literally the beginning of the medium. She is one of the most beloved female performers in the history of television, and the National Academy is proud to be honoring her."
Speaking Up For Cecil The Lion
The animal activist in White came out full throttle when a Minnesota dentist killed Cecil the lion during a hunting trip. Even if you aren't an activist when an innocent animal gets killed, it can strike a nerve in anybody, but especially White.
"You don't want to hear some of the things I want to do to that man," White said. "It's such a heartbreaker. You can't even talk about it, and to see this king of the jungle and personifying it in every way, this gorgeous creature. How can somebody do that?"
Her First Sitcom
White's first sitcom started in the early '50s. The show's title was Life With Elizabeth, produced by White and George Tibbles. Tibbles also worked on shows such as Leave It To Beaver and The Munsters. The two made TV magic together.
"He wrote, and I produced," White said to The Hollywood Reporter. "I was one of the first women producers in Hollywood." The premise of the show stemmed from a sketch White had done on local TV.
She Originally Auditioned For Blanche
Oh, how things could have been different on The Golden Girls. The producers originally wanted White to play the role of the promiscuous party animal thanks to her character from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Conversely, Rue McClanahan had considerations for the part of Rose Nylund thanks to her role from Maude.
In the end, director Jay Sandrich became afraid of typecasting. He eventually asked the two to switch during the audition. Thus, The Golden Girls came about.
She Turned A Film Down Because Of An Animal Cruelty Scene
Producers should already know if an animal getting hurt is involved, then White probably won't be a part of it. We mentioned earlier how she turned down the role for As Good as It Gets. White explained in detail why she stepped away from the opportunity.
During The Joy Behar Show, White said, "All I could think of was all the people out there watching that movie … and if there's a dog in the building that's barking or they don't like—boom! They do it." White complained to the director so that he could have the scene removed, but he kept it and cast Shirley Knight instead.
She Still Wants One Thing...
It's almost like White has done everything you can possibly do as an entertainer. With more than 110 film and television credits on her belt, and the numerous awards. And even becoming the honorary mayor of Hollywood, what else could she want?
Well, she has a cheeky answer for that in case you were wondering. "My answer to anything under the sun, like 'What have you not done in the business that you've always wanted to do?’ is ‘Robert Redford.'"