‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball’s Final Show Was a Flop, Was a ‘Major Burden’ on Comedy Icon

by Quentin Blount

Years after Lucille Ball starred on the hit show I Love Lucy, she continued her career in television with her own sitcom, Life with Lucy.

However, Life with Lucy did not take off the way that Ball had hoped. Unlike her sitcoms that came before, Life with Lucy was a failure in basically every category. It received poor ratings among both critics and viewers, ranking it as one of the worst sitcoms in broadcasting history.

In an interview with Closer Weekly back in 2019, Ball’s former publicist, Thomas Watson, told the outlet that the show became a burden for Lucille Ball.

“The ‘I Love Lucy’ legacy allowed ‘Life with Lucy’ to happen, but it was a terrible burden,” Watson told Closer Weekly.

Ball played a widowed grandmother on the show who inherited her husband’s half-interest in a California hardware store. Watson said that the show’s writers worked with Ball in I Love Lucy.

“The show was written by the same people that worked on the original ‘I Love Lucy,'” he said. “They were still writing for that Lucy, instead of a ‘Golden Girls’ kind of character or grandma.”

Lucille Ball Was Not Ready for Negative Reviews

As optimistic as she was about Life with Lucy, Lucille Ball was not ready for the negative attention that came soon after.

“They were so bloody,” recalled Ann Dusenberry. Dusenberry played Ball’s daughter in the show. “So bad and disrespectful. I was hurt for her. They showed no regard that she was an icon.”

Life with Lucy aired for one season on ABC from September 20 until November 15, 1986. Despite being supposed to run for 22 episodes, ABC canceled the series after just eight.

“It was so sad and disappointing,” Thomas Watson admitted.

Meanwhile, Closer Weekly said that Michael Stern saw that Ball was heartbroken over the news. Stern and Ball were very close friends.

“After an hour, I walked out with her,” he said. “She started bawling.”

The show was Lucille Ball’s last official role before she passed away at 77-years-old. For more on Lucille Ball and other classic TV stars, be sure to follow along here on Outsider.