Lucille Ball’s Mother Once Sent Her to Live With Her 2nd Husband’s Parents After Her Husband’s Death—Here’s Why (2023)

She may be a Hollywood icon, but to Lucille Ball’s parents, she was just their daughter. Lucille—whose full name is Lucille Désirée Ball—was born on August 6, 1911, in Jamestown, New York, to Henry Durrell Ball and Desiree Evelyn Hunt. (Her middle name was inspired by her mother’s first name.)

She started acting at the age of 12 years old when her stepfather encouraged her to audition for his Shriner’s chorus line. In 1926, Lucille enrolled at the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City (where Bette Davis was also a student). Lucille said in a later interview that “all I learned in drama school was how to be frightened.” In 1940, Lucille met her future husband, Desi Arnaz, while filming the stage show, Too Many Girls. The couple married that same year.

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In 1948, Lucille was cast as Liz Cooper, a wacky wife in the CBS Radio comedy show, My Favorite Husband. The show ran for 148 episodes. After the success of My Favorite Husband, Lucille was asked by CBS to develop it for television, which she agreed if she could work with her real-life husband, Desi. Unimpressed by the pilot episode, CBS turned down a show with Lucille and Desi, which led them to hit the road as a vaudeville act in which Lucille played a zany housewife who tried to get into her husband’s show. After the success of the tour, CBS greenlit I Love Lucy, which went on to run for more than 100 episodes and be one of the most-watched shows in TV history.

Lucille and Desi’s marriage was portrayed in the 2021 movie Being the Ricardos, in which Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem starred as the couple. The film was written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. In an interview with Extra in December 2021, Kidman opened up about why she wanted to play Lucille. “That is something that Javier and I want to honor,” she said. “But at the same time, you want it to be a true depiction of who they are so that people watching it go, ‘Oh, OK…’ Aaron’s really gone in there, he’s done them proud, but at the same time he has been very true to their spirits… They’re compelling, fascinating… people and at the same time—they are human.”

The story of Lucille and Desi’s relationship was told in Amy Poehler’s 2022 documentary, Lucy and Desi, which dove into who they were as people in addition to Hollywood stars. “I knew about them as performers, not as people,” Poehler told Variety in 2021. “These two incredible outsiders worked hard to become powerful, influential figures at a time when women and immigrants were not running the system. But at the end of the day, the attempt was to tell a love story: Their long journey of falling in love, working, and staying in love with each other through thick and thin was echoed in their show.” Poehler continued, “And then to watch America’s most powerful couple — they created the idea of a power couple — split up after being on TV, as this example of how things will always be OK, it was interesting. So much is made of their work and comedy, and it should be. But I also think it is also an equal triumph to have a relationship that was the kind that they had. It is hard to maintain a working relationship, as well as a relationship with someone you love and is your partner in raising kids.”

So who are Lucille Ball’s parents, Henry Durrell Ball and Desiree Evelyn Hunt? Read on for more about Lucille Ball’s parents and how her father’s death as a child set into motion the events of her childhood that would affect her for years to come.

Who was Lucille Ball’s father, Henry Durrell Ball?

Lucille Ball’s father was Henry Durrell “Had” Ball. Soon after Lucille’s birth, Henry and his wife, Desiree Evelyn Hunt, moved from Jamestown, New York, where Lucille was born and where Henry worked as an electrician, to Montana for Henry’s work. The Balls didn’t stay there long as Henry was soon offered another job as a telephone lineman at the Bell Company in Michigan. A few years later, in 1915, when Lucille was three years old, Henry was diagnosed with typhoid fever and died. “I do remember everything that happened,” Lucille once said. “Hanging out the window, begging to play with the kids next door who had measles, the doctor coming, my mother weeping. I remember a bird that flew in the window, a picture that fell off the wall.”

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Who was Lucille Ball’s mother, Desiree Evelyn Hunt?

Lucille Ball’s mother was Desiree Evelyn “DeDe” Hunt. After the death of her husband and Lucille’s father, Henry Durrell Ball, Desiree—who was pregnant with her second child at the time, Fred—moved their family from Michigan back to Jamestown, New York, where she found work in a factory. and met her second husband, Ed Peterson. Ed and Desiree married four years after Henry’s death. According to, Ed wasn’t a fan of children, and convinced Desiree to move with him to Detroit without Lucille and Fred. Fred went on to move in with Desiree’s parents, while Lucille lived with Ed’s parents. Lucille once recalled what it was like to live with her stepfather’s parents (including his strict mother), and how the household often didn’t have enough money to buy Ball’s school supplies. When Ball was 11 years old, she reunited with her mother and Ed after they moved from Detroit back to New York. Four years later, when she was 15, Lucille moved out of her parents’ home after she convinced her mother to quit high school and enroll at John Murrary Anderson-Robert Milton Dramatics School in New York City. “I was a tongue-tied teenager spellbound by the school’s star pupil, Bette Davis,” Ball said of her time at the program. She also recalled the school writing to her mother, telling her “Lucy’s wasting her time and ours. She’s too shy and reticent to put her best foot forward.”

Lucille’s love of performing came from her grandfather (her mother’s father), who bought Desiree a home in the country so they could be a family again. After the family reunited, Lucille’s grandfather would often take her to vaudeville on Saturday nights, where she got her introduction to comedy. After the vaudeville shows, Luille would often stage plays at home with her family as the cast, crew and audience, and in high school, she performed in a production of Charley’s Aunt, which inspired her to pursue acting as a career.

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Lucille Ball’s Mother Once Sent Her to Live With Her 2nd Husband’s Parents After Her Husband’s Death—Here’s Why (1)

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Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball

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For more about Lucille Ball, read her autobiography, Love, Lucy. The book—which was published after Ball’s death in 1989 and is her only autobiography—follows the comedienne’s career and life, from her childhood in Jamestown, New York, to her dreams on Broadway and her marriage with Desi Arnaz. Written by Ball herself, the autobiography also includes intimate memories of her and Desi’s children, what led to the end of their marriage and how Ball found love again with her second husband, Gary Morton. Told in her own words, Love, Lucy is a must-read for anyone who loves Lucy.

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What did Lucille Ball's mom do? ›

Lucille Désirée Ball was born on August 6, 1911, at 60 Stewart Avenue in Jamestown, New York, the first child and only daughter of Henry Durrell "Had" Ball, a lineman for Bell Telephone, and Désirée Evelyn "DeDe" (née Hunt) Ball. Her family belonged to the Baptist church.

What happened to Lucille Ball's second husband? ›

And despite the alleged heartache Ball endured over the years, her letters hinted she found peace in the years before her passing. “With Gary, I've become a woman with a capacity for happiness again,” she wrote. Morton passed away in 1999 at age 74.

What did Lucy say when Desi died? ›

Their daughter Lucie Arnaz, now 70, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue about witnessing her dad's final exchange with mom Ball over the phone. "I could hear her say, 'I love you. ' She said it five times in a row. And he was nodding and saying, 'I love you too, honey,' " recalls Lucie, adding, "He died in my arms.

What kind of mother was Lucille Ball? ›

Lucille Ball was “flying blind” as a mom

According to Arnaz, Ball used the interviews to gauge how well she was taking care of her kids. “She was always searching for answers herself. So she would talk to Jeanne Martin … or Debbie Reynolds, other women who had children, and she asked them, 'How do you do it? '”

Did Lucille Ball get along with her mother? ›

Lucille's own childhood wasn't the easiest. After her father died when she was just 4 years old, she lived with her grandparents while her mother worked. “She didn't have much of a happy-go-lucky, bonded childhood with her own mother," Lucie later explained to

Did Lucille Ball have a child she gave up for adoption? ›

Lucille and Desi divorced, and Ball went on to marry Gary Morton in 1960. On April 26, 1989, Lucille Ball died from a ruptured aorta. In 2014, a woman named Cassandria Carlson came forward claiming the Lucille Ball was her grandmother. Carlson claimed that she was given her up for adoption in 1947 by Ball.

Who did Lucille Ball leave her money to? ›

Ball had put an estate plan in place and created a trust naming her daughter (Lucie -that's not confusing or anything) as her Trustee with the trust assets split three ways, to her husband (Morton) and two children.

Did Lucy and Ricky divorce? ›

The pair were married in real life when they played everyone's favorite TV couple Lucy and Ricky Ricardo from 1951 to 1957. They divorced three years after the original show ended in 1960, but they remained business partners for years following their divorce.

What were Lucille Ball's last words? ›

When she called her mom to let her know the end was near, she put the phone up to Arnaz's ear so Ball could talk to him. "I could hear her say, 'I love you. ' Like, five times in a row," Lucie said. "And he was nodding his head and saying, 'I love you too, honey.

Was I Love Lucy a mom? ›

Kathryn Card (October 4, 1892 – March 1, 1964) was an American radio, television, and film actress who may be best remembered for her role as Mrs. McGillicuddy, Lucy's mother on I Love Lucy.
Kathryn Card
Years active1933–1964
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Who plays Lucy's mother on I Love Lucy? ›

Kathryn Card (October 4, 1892 – March 1, 1964) was an American radio, television, and film actress who may be best remembered for her role as Mrs. McGillicuddy, Lucy's mother on I Love Lucy.

Did Lucille Ball hide her pregnancy? ›

It's true that when Ball got pregnant with her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr., during the production of the sitcom's second season, CBS executives immediately ordered that she conceal her baby bump on TV by hiding behind sofas, boxes and other objects.

What happened to Lucy's daughter? ›

Both Lucie and Desi Jr. remained in show business after the series, and at 70, Ball's daughter has acted on TV, in films, on stage, and in her own touring show. She's also involved with controlling her parents' estate and has commented on the new biopic about them, Being the Ricardos.

Did Lucy like Ethel in real life? ›

' Frawley and Vance played Fred and Ethel Mertz — Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's landlords and best friends — on the beloved 1950s sitcom, which aired from 1951 to 1957. But it was well-known that they despised each other.

How many babies did Lucy have? ›

Lucille and Desi got married in 1940, before divorcing 20 years later in 1960. The frequent collaborators and I Love Lucy stars had two children together; Lucie, 70, and son Desi Arnaz Jr., 69.

How many biological children did Lucille Ball have? ›

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz have two children.

On July 17, 1951, just shy of her 40th birthday, Lucille gave birth to the couple's first child, Lucie Désireé Arnaz. A year and a half later, she gave birth to the couple's second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, also known as Desi Arnaz Jr.

Why did Vivian leave the Lucy show? ›

Vivian Bagley was the first regular character on television who was a divorcée. Vivian Vance left the program after the third season, because she lived in Connecticut and tired of commuting and leaving her husband.

How much did Lucy make per episode? ›

According to Bart Andrews' 1985 book, The I Love Lucy Book, Ball and Arnaz were paid a joint salary of $4,000 per episode ($2,000 each) for I Love Lucy. The book reports that the couple originally asked for $5,000 per episode, but CBS and Arnaz agreed to $4,000 for complete rights to the show.

Are Lucy and Desi buried together? ›

Lucy and her mother are interred in a mausoleum at the famed Los Angeles cemetery, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Hollywood Hills.

Who inherited Lucy and Desi money? ›

(Arnaz's mother, who was 91 years old at the time, was also left $250,000.) According to the Associated Press, Arnaz's will stated for his estate to be divided between Lucie and Desi Jr. equally. Per Celebrity Net Worth, Arnaz was worth $20 million at the time of his death.

What is the most famous I Love Lucy episode? ›

Lucy Goes to the Hospital” (Season 2, Episode 16)

The show more than delivered with “Lucy Goes to the Hospital,” which remains the most-watched sitcom episode of all time.

Was I Love Lucy pregnant on the show? ›

Lucille Ball was the first woman to appear pregnant on one of the three major television networks. Desilu Studios consulted with network censors and leaders from different religious organizations to determine that Lucy Ricardo would be described as “expecting” rather than “pregnant.”

Is there anyone left from I Love Lucy? ›

Now, only one cast member who had a regular, credited role on I Love Lucy is still alive: Keith Thibodeaux, who played Little Ricky. Or, you could say, he played one of the Little Rickys. The character of Lucy and Ricky's son was played by six different actors: Thibodeaux, another child actor, and two sets of twins.

Did Desi remarry after Lucy? ›

They divorced in 1960.

I Love Lucy wrapped up in 1957, and the real-life Lucy and Desi divorced three years later. They both ended up remarrying—Lucy married comedian Gary Morton in 1962 and Desi married Edith Hirsch in 1963, Biography says.

Did Lucy and Ricky have a baby on I Love Lucy? ›

Lucy Ricardo gave birth to "Little Ricky" in season two. But real-life Lucy and Desi didn't want their baby on screen for obvious reasons, so they cast a wide net in search of a set of similar-looking twins.

Did Lucy and Ricky sleep in the same bed? ›

On I Love Lucy, Lucy and Ricky, a married couple both on-screen and off, famously never shared a bed. Instead, they slept in side-by-side single beds. As it turns out, their TV sleep style may have been an unwitting precursor to a 21st-century trend: the sleep divorce.

How old was Lucy when she died? ›

Why did Lucille Ball throat surgery? ›

Wise said then that doctors had removed a small cyst from her throat beside her thyroid gland. He said the operation was performed while she was in the hospital for her annual physical examination. Ball appeared on television March 29 with comedian Bob Hope during the Academy Awards ceremony.

Why did Lucille Ball go red? ›

Lucille Ball

Her hair apparently got its color from a henna dye, which was a closely guarded Hollywood secret — so closely guarded, in fact, that according to Huffington Post, the dye was kept under lock and key.

Does Lucy have a baby? ›

"Lucy Goes to the Hospital" is an episode of the 1950s American television show I Love Lucy in which the title character, Lucy Ricardo, gives birth to a baby boy after a chaotic sequence of events.

Who was Lucy pregnant with? ›

Lucille Ball's Pregnancy Changed the Face of Television

Because the pilot episode never actually aired, Lucy Ricardo was only ever pregnant once within the show's script. However, when filming season two, Lucille Ball became pregnant with the couple's second child, Desi Arnaz, Jr.

Was Marilyn Monroe on I Love Lucy? ›

In “Lucy Gets Ricky on the Radio” (1952), the June 3, 1952 of Look Magazine actually had Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe on the cover! Monroe was promoting Clash by Night, and Desi had written a feature on his wife for the magazine. So Marilyn actually did appear on “I Love Lucy” - if only in a still photo.

What did Lucy's mother call Ricky? ›

About Lucy's mother

She calls her son-in-law "Mickey" instead of "Ricky", never bothering to learn his name! She and Ricky don't get along.

What is Lucy's maiden name? ›

Lucy's full name (Lucille Esmeralda Ricardo née McGillicuddy) is given in the Season 1 episodes "Fred and Ethel Fight" and "The Marriage License," and "The Passports" in Season 5.

What is I Love Lucy real name? ›

Lucille Ball, in full Lucille Désirée Ball, (born August 6, 1911, Jamestown, New York, U.S.—died April 26, 1989, Los Angeles, California), radio and motion-picture actress and longtime comedy star of American television, best remembered for her classic television comedy series I Love Lucy.

What was Lucille Ball accused of? ›

Lucille Ball was accused of being a communist in 1953 by the media. Her daughter Lucie Arnaz said she was "scared" of losing her career and that Desi Arnaz "took charge." Desi Arnaz really did phone former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who publicly cleared Ball.

How did Lucille Ball hide her pregnancy? ›

It's true that when Ball got pregnant with her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr., during the production of the sitcom's second season, CBS executives immediately ordered that she conceal her baby bump on TV by hiding behind sofas, boxes and other objects.

Why did Lucille Ball have children so late in life? ›

Zany comedienne Lucille Ball delayed having her first child Lucie Arnaz until she was 40 years old, and she was 42 when she gave birth to her son, Desi Arnaz Jr. Women today seem to be following in Ball's footsteps as they delay childbirth into their 40's mainly because of career constraints.

Why couldn t you say pregnant on TV? ›

"Pregnant" was considered too suggestive.

When I Love Lucy was on the air, it was still extremely rare for a pregnant character to appear on screen. In fact, Ball was only the second actor to do it. And while Ball was pregnant during the start of Season 1, her character wasn't.

What episode of I Love Lucy is in being the Ricardos? ›

Being the Ricardos follows one week in the lives of Lucille Ball (Kidman) and her husband Desi Arnaz (Bardem) as they film the first-season episode of I Love Lucy called "Fred and Ethel Fight." The title pretty accurately describes what happens in the episode, as the Ricardos' neighbors are in a marital spat, and Lucy ...

Who made Lucy pregnant? ›

Randy is the biological son of Lucy and Randy, who was conceived after Randy and Lucy had sex a couple of times the Saturday when Ricky and Ray spent the weekend in the drunk tank (the second time).

What was the first TV show to show a pregnant woman? ›

Broadcast history

Mary Kay and Johnny was the first program to show a couple sharing a bed, and the first series to show a woman's pregnancy on television: Mary Kay became pregnant in 1948 and after unsuccessfully trying to hide her pregnancy, the producers wrote it into the show.

How many miscarriages did Lucy have? ›

Sadly, Ball had multiple miscarriages, and was essentially forced to keep it to herself. According to People, Ball may have experienced as many as three miscarriages early in her marriage to Desi Arnaz before the couple had their two children, Lucie and Desi Jr.

Did Lucy have a miscarriage on 7th Heaven? ›

It is revealed that Kevin and Lucy were expecting twin boys; however, Lucy has a miscarriage over the summer. In the series finale, Lucy tells him that she is pregnant again.

What episode does Ricky find out Lucy is pregnant? ›

On Dec. 8, Lucy's character breaks the news to Ricky in an episode titled “Lucy Is Enceinte,” using the French word for pregnant.

Was Little Ricky their real son? ›

Enrique Alberto Ricardo IV, better known as Little Ricky, is a fictional character from the American television series I Love Lucy (1951–57, with Ricky Jr. becoming a part of the show as of his birth in 1953) and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957–60). Little Ricky is the son of Lucy Ricardo and Ricky Ricardo.

Why did Cate Blanchett pull out of Lucille Ball? ›

As the story goes, Blanchett was attached to play Ball in the film, but the actress left the project due to “scheduling conflicts.” And according to one of the film's producers, Lucie Arnaz (daughter of Ball and Arnaz), that took the winds out of their sails. “It just took too long and we lost her,” Lucie Arnaz said.

Did Lucille Ball have false eyelashes? ›

False lashes were originally created by makeup artist Max Factor in 1919 for a starlet named Phyllis Haver. They were popularized by Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn in the 1930s and got a big wink from Lucille Ball in the 1950s.

Who is buried with Lucille Ball? ›

In 2002, however, her children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., decided to move her remains to the family plot at Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown. Ball's parents and grandparents are also buried in the plot.


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