‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball Auditioned for First Role at Age 12

by Anna Dunn

Many actors dream of being in the spotlight from a young age. Lucille Ball was one of them. Ball had her first audition at only 12 years old. Of course, she got the part. The experience she had acting as a child made her want to pursue show businesses for good. And it’s a good thing that she did; without Lucille Ball, Hollywood would have looked very different.

Lucille Ball’s Childhood

Lucille Ball was born on August 6th, 1911, in Jamestown, New York. Her parents were Henry Dubell Ball and Desiree Ball. She had one younger brother, Fred. Lucille Ball’s family struggled to make ends meet. Her father, an electrician, relocated his family to Montana for work, only to pass away when Ball was only 3.

Lucile Ball described the tragedy as one of her first memories. She even recounted that tragic day. “I do remember what happened. Hanging by 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,” she said.

Losing her father was challenging for her mother, both emotionally and financially, as it was incredibly difficult to find work. After her father’s passing, her Mother moved back to Jamestown and landed a factory job before getting re-married to a man who wanted nothing to do with the kids. Ball’s mother and stepfather left her at her stepfather’s grandparents. Her time with her step-grandparents was difficult for her. She recalled not being able to afford a pencil.

Lucille Ball was reunited with her mother at age 11, a year before going to her first audition. She loved participating in the play so much that she convinced her mother to let her enroll in a Drama Academy in the city. The academy wrote Lucille Ball’s mother a note saying she was too nervous and shy to ever make it as an actress.

A Rough Path to Stardom

The 12-year-old Lucille Ball, who auditioned for a chorus line role in her local theater, didn’t have an easy life. Even after her childhood, Ball admitted that she was starving while living in New York, eventually becoming a model to pay the bills.

When Lucille Ball made it into Hollywood, she broke down barriers and stole the hearts of people all across the United States with her show I Love Lucy. Her journey from a nervous kid whose drama academy told her that she was “a waste of time” to Hollywood legend was paved with tragedy and difficulty. Yet, Lucille Ball brought joy and laughter to millions for many years.