Lucille Ball became one of Hollywood’s most powerful and successful actresses with the success of “I Love Lucy” in the 1950s. She could have sent her children to any college they wanted to go to, but she told her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, to skip going to a university.
Arnaz has a theory as to why.
America was a powder keg in 1970. The Free Love movement had turned sour and the Vietnam War raged on despite endless protesting and lobbying. That came to a head at Kent State. During an anti-war protest, the National Guard opened fire on a group of students. The soldiers were trying to push the demonstrators back, but they killed four and wounded nine others in the melee. It was a pivot point in American history, and it created a terrifying proposition for any parent about to send their kids to college.
That’s what Lucille Ball faced. She couldn’t protect her two children if they were far away. Lucie Arnaz believes that’s why her mother told her to skip college.
“I think she was scared that if I went to college, I’d get shot because it was the year of Kent State,” Lucie recalled to Smashing Interviews in 2013. “I’m not kidding. … when I think about it now, that’s what happened. She’d say, ‘You’re gonna get shot if you go to college! Don’t go to college! They’re going to shoot you!’ I swear to you.”
Lucie Arnaz Put Off College to Work With Her Mom
Lucie Arnaz was already a star in 1970. She was starring on her mom’s hit TV show Here’s Lucy. Arnaz believed that she thought it would be a good idea to stay on and set aside her dreams of college. For now. She had intended to go eventually.
“(Ball) was changing her format and asked us to go on the show, and I thought, ‘Well, it’s a live audience, and I like live audience stuff, so maybe I can learn something,’” Arnaz said. “‘Then I’ll go to college. I’ll go to Northwestern, and I’ll study theatre.’ That was the plan. And the show went well.”
Arnaz never made it to a university. Not that it dampened her career in any way. She remained a working actress and producer on Broadway and television for years. She eventually followed in her father’s footsteps and began performing music shows.
“I went back to Broadway every once in a while for a small period of time,” she said, “but basically, my heart was in concerts, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.”