‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball Said She Was ‘Forced’ into Modeling Before TV Success

by Anna Dunn

Few names are more iconic in Hollywood history than Lucille Ball. But even Lucille Ball got her start somewhere. In Ball’s early days, she was determined to make it in New York. This is partially because during her time at the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City, her teachers told her she’d never make it in the industry. Boy, would they be wrong.

Ball, determined to prove them wrong, headed back to New York. At this time, Ball started working as an in-house model at Hattie Carnegie, but it wasn’t exactly by choice.

A Young Lucille Ball Needed To Pay the Bills

Lucille struggled to find work as a performer, so she was forced to turn to modeling to pay the bills. “I literally starved.” She once said.

“I was young, very backward and awkward. Vaudeville was the only thing I knew, so I tried to break in. Unfortunately for me, vaudeville was already dead and gone. The lack of food and work forced me into modeling.” Ball continued, noting that modeling definitely wasn’t her desired career path.

Lucille Ball’s Modeling career started at Hattie Carnegie, a salon where she worked as a hat model. Soon after, she modeled as the Chesterfield Cigarette Girl. Lucille Ball was able to land many different modeling gigs before eventually making it into an acting career.

Hat Model To Icon

Once Ball did make it into Hollywood, her presence would change the industry. Not only did Lucille Ball go on to do wonderful things as an actress, producer, and comedian, but she also became the first female head of a major Hollywood studio.

She starred in and produced the hit sitcoms I Love LucyHere’s Lucy, and Lucy’s ShowI love Lucy was arguably one of the most beloved television shows in history. Ball also produced not only TV but also a Broadway show called Wildcat.

She became the first woman to own and lead a Hollywood studio in the 1960s with her husband, Desi Arnaz. She bought out her (then ex) husband in 1962, becoming the sole owner. The studio, Desilu productions created TV shows such as Star Trek, Mission Impossible, and The Untouchables. Lucille Ball truly did take Hollywood by storm, from the massively successful I Love Lucy to approving shows like Star Trek, her talent and drive made her an icon.

Lucille Ball went from a hat model struggling to pay the bills to a legend. She passed away from an aneurism in 1989 at 77 years old. She never retired.