I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball was much more than just the star of the popular 1950s sitcom. She also directed some of the episodes herself.
Ball spoke to members of a live audience at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) during an episode of America Alive in 1978. It was there that one of the audience members asked her if she ever had any interest in directing after her acting career was over.
“I had to direct a lot of the ‘I Love Lucy’ shows,” Ball explained. “But I haven’t been too interested in directing anyone else’s show. But I have had to direct some of our shows because we never put anyone under contract.”
Ball explained that a lot of the employees that worked on the set of I Love Lucy were not under a typical contract. As a result, she says that they had to constantly train new talent. That way, if anyone were to leave for a new gig, there was always someone ready to step up.
“We always had an open-end if they wanted to move onto something else,” she continued. “We had to train people. The technique started with us.”
The star actress talked about what made the structure of I Love Lucy different compared to most.
“Three cameras moving back and forth. And if you saw our show, there were 300 people in the audience. Everything was done just like a stage play. These camera and cable men were all brand new 25-something years ago. And as much as we were innovators, we had to keep training new people.”
In the end, Lucille Ball said that she was never interested in directing. But she was very proud of the fact that she had directed her own.
‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball Directed Her Kids at Home, Too
Hearing Lucille Ball explain that she has experience directing definitely makes a lot of sense. In fact, she used to inadvertently direct her own kids at home.
Another audience member during the interview on America Alive had a question for Ball. This time, it was about how her kids, Lucie and Desi, got into the business. She says that both children showed an “early inclination to perform.” However, while she says that she never made her kids practice, she did find a way to encourage them to hone in on their performing skills.
“Aunt Helen is coming on Thursday and she’d love to hear your little number,” Ball used to say to her children. “You know, that thing you were playing the other day. I heard you on the drums, Desi, and I heard you on the piano, Lucie. She’s coming Thursday if you feel like it.”
That’s all it took to jumpstart little Lucie and Desi. In the background, Lucille Ball says that she would hear her kids gearing up to practice their performance.
“That’s the way I got the practicing done for years, and years, and years,” she said.