Comedienne Lucille Ball was a trailblazer in the world of television and comedy, treading a path for generations of women in the entertainment industry to follow. Saturday (Aug. 6) marks what would have been her 100th birthday and to celebrate, Life has released a series of never-before-published photos of Lucy.
The above photo is captioned: In 1958, on the set of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour — a collection of occasional lavish specials that followed the adventures of the Ricardos and the Mertzes after I Love Lucy — Ball does a comedy bit as a wisecracking clerk. As in real life, the fictional Lucy seemed to have tried every job in the want ads in the hope of eventually becoming famous and successful. Watching her fail spectacularly every week (even as the actress who played her showed off her unparalleled comic skills) made Lucy Ricardo a success — at becoming one of TV’s most unforgettable characters.
The below photo, with husband Desi: Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball strike familiar poses as they survey their new empire, the Desilu Studios, in 1958. The camera set-up behind them is actually one of Lucy and Desi’s greatest innovations. When they started I Love Lucy in 1951, most TV shows were produced live in New York, captured on low-quality kinetoscopes, then re-aired on the West Coast. The Arnazes insisted on working in Hollywood and shooting their show in advance on film. They invented the three-camera staging so they could shoot from multiple angles and distances simultaneously while performing the show before a live audience in the studio. The couple also got CBS to let them keep the filmed episodes, which ended up making them a fortune in syndication before reruns had become commonplace. The three-camera set-up became the standard for shooting sitcoms (and it remains so today), and it began the shift of TV production from New York to Hollywood.
And below the second photo is our very favorite Lucy moment ever seen on screen. Happy Birthday, Lucille Ball.