‘I Love Lucy’: What Was Lucille Ball’s Natural Hair Color?

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Richard Nairin/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Lucille Ball is defined by many characteristics, yet the “I Love Lucy” star’s red hair stands out. Is it naturally red?

Well, the question is always around. What was Lucille Ball’s natural hair color? Is it naturally red? Actually, the answer is no.

Ball was a brunette through most of her early career, which was spent playing bit parts in movies. Early headshots of Lucy show her with brown hair.

People have been fascinated with Ball’s hair color for “I Love Lucy” since she first appeared on their TV sets. Good Housekeeping even did an article focusing on a younger Lucille Ball and that magical head of hair.

‘I Love Lucy’ Hairstylist Drops Some Lucille Ball Hair Knowledge

One person who could offer the best answers about her hair is Irma Kusley, the hairstylist for “I Love Lucy.”

“A lot of people think of it as red – it’s not red at all,” Kusley said in an interview for the Television Academy Foundation. “She met a very wealthy sheik and he had heard about her problem (getting the right coloring), he said he would send her a lifetime supply of henna, which he did!

“(We kept it) in my garage, locked away in a safe,” Kusley said.

So, if you’re keeping track, then Ball’s original hair color is brunette. Kusley used regular hair dye, which made it red. But it didn’t have that right color, so toss in henna hair coloring and that’s it.

That is the secret ingredient that made “America’s favorite redhead” into a household name.

Ball Did More With Her Career After Iconic Sitcom Ended

Many people know that Lucille Ball did have a career after “I Love Lucy” and its follow-up show, “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” ended.

But what did she do? First off, she tried her hand at a Broadway show called “Wildcat.” It ended up being a flop because Ball was ill. She even attempted to come back to the show just two weeks after taking time away to recover. Ball collapsed on stage and the show itself received harsh reviews from Broadway critics.

“Wildcat” closed up after 171 shows. Ball, though, wasn’t done at all. She took over sole ownership of Desilu Productions after her 1960 divorce from Desi Arnaz. Seven years later, she sold the rights to “I Love Lucy”and the company for $17 million.

Her fire for TV sitcoms didn’t fade away. She did “The Lucy Show” for six seasons starting in 1962, then followed that up with “Here’s Lucy” in 1968. Ball was able to have her children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr., play roles on the latter sitcom.

Fans wanted the same magic from “I Love Lucy” to be in both shows, but they reached moderate success levels.