Lucille Ball dazzled fans for years during her stint in television and films. After gaining fame and notoriety during her time on “I Love Lucy,” her worldwide fans recognized her as an American icon and pop culture sensation.
But before being thrust into global stardom, Ball was your average, aspiring superstar looking to make it in Hollywood. Born on August 6, 1911, in Jamestown, New York, she was born to Henry Durrell Ball and Desiree Ball. Even though her life was filled with accolades and accomplishments, her childhood was marred with tragedy and financial hardship.
Her father, Henry, worked as an electrician. Shortly after their daughter’s birth, the family moved from New York to Montana for Henry’s job. Once there, they didn’t stay long; Henry was offered a job as a telephone lineman with the Michigan Bell Company. Tragedy struck the family when, in February 1915, Henry was diagnosed with typhoid fever and died.
At just three years old, Lucille Ball was without her father. However, this would be just one of many hurdles Ball would have to overcome in her childhood. Ball once revealed that one of her earliest memories included seeing her mother grieve after losing her husband.
“I do remember everything that happened,” she said. “Hanging out 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.”
Lucille Ball Left Without Family at Young Age
Her mother, who was without her husband and pregnant with her second child, Fred, packed up her family and returned to New York. Once there, she found work in a factory. She also remarried a man named Ed Peterson.
However, her second husband wasn’t fond of young children. As a result, Peterson and Desiree move to Detroit without the children. Lucille Ball’s younger brother moved in with Desiree’s parents, and her mother and Peterson forced her to move in with her stepfather’s parents. Without her family, Lucille Ball had to live with Peterson’s strict mother, who could barely afford to buy Ball school supplies.
When Ball was 11, she was reunited with her mother when her mother and Peterson moved from Detriot back to New York. At 15, with her mother’s permission, she enrolled in a New York City drama school. By the 1930s, Ball moved to Hollywood to begin her pursuit of creating her legacy that would last generations.