Lucy at age 19, in 1930.

Lucy at age 19, in 1930.

We Love Lucy and want to wish her a happy 105th birthday! As a little girl, I spent many nights watching I Love Lucy at sleepovers long after we were supposed to be asleep. Lucy’s character was someone that we could look up to – a funny lady with a can-do attitude.

Lucille Ball was born to Henry and Desiree Ball on August 6th, 1911 in Jamestown, New York as the first of two children. As a young girl, times were often tough for Lucy. Money was scarce and her family had to move several times for her father to find work. Things got worse when her father died from typhoid when Lucy was just 3 years old – which she recalls as her first real memory. To get by, her mom got a job and a new husband. Unfortunately for Lucy and her younger brother, Fred, their new stepfather did not like kids. Lucille was sent to live with her step-grandparents while her mom and stepdad moved to Detroit. Finances were not any better with her new caregivers who could not even afford pencils to send to school with her. Her parents came back to New York when she was 11, and Lucille wanted to make some big changes in her life.

At age 15, Lucille begged her mom to enroll her in the New York City Drama School. She wanted to be a star on the stage. Despite her goals, she was very shy and struggled with acting. The drama teacher actually wrote to her family that Lucille was “wasting her time and ours.” Did Lucy give up? Of course not, that’s not the Lucy we know and love! She stuck around in New York City and found work as a model. She hit another bump in the road when she was struck with rheumatoid arthritis, which became so severe that she collapsed on the runway while modeling in a fashion show. She returned home to recover for quite some time before returning to modeling in NYC. Within a few years she moved to Hollywood to pursue her lingering dreams of acting. This time, she was successful. Throughout her career she acted in 72 movies and her hit 1950s television show,¬†I Love Lucy.

Today on her 105th birthday, Lucille Ball is still a great role model for girls with dreams. Although she had many setbacks, Lucy grew to become a star and beloved part of American pop culture. What’s not to love about Lucy?

-Hillary Hanel
Museum Education Advisor
Girl Museum Inc.

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