Lucille Ball loved to challenge herself beyond sitcom work in “I Love Lucy.” For one TV movie, Ball wasn’t even recognized in New York City.
Back in 1985, Ball stopped by “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and appeared on there with then-guest host Joan Rivers. Ball had just finished filming “Stone Pillow” in which she plays a homeless woman named Florabelle.
“We were on 33 days on the streets of New York,” Ball said on “The Tonight Show.” “Not one person stopped in front and went ‘You’re Lucy, arent’ you?’ Not one person.
“And I sat in one spot for 15-20 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half,” Ball said. “Not one person. They have a way of not seeing bag women or the men, the winos, the weirdos, or the bagmen. You can go any place you want except in to eat or a restaurant.”
‘I Love Lucy’ Star Tries Going Into New York Restaurant With Homeless Look
Rivers asked the “I Love Lucy” star if she tried to do that.
“Yes, I forgot one day, yeah I forgot how I looked and I said, ‘Oh let’s go to that place, I’ve heard about it,'” Ball said. “And I went and they wouldn’t let me in.”
“And you told them that you were Lucille Ball?” Rivers asked.
“No, I left,” Ball said. “I wasn’t going to prove it. With the makeup I had on, I couldn’t prove it.”
The audience laughs and Ball replies, “Well, you don’t think I did it without makeup?”
“Stone Pillow” originally aired on Nov. 5, 1985. It looks at the plight of homeless people surviving on the streets of New York. The role is definitely not in the comedic wheelhouse of Ball, who took up the challenging role.
Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Were Television Pioneers In Interesting Way
Speaking of Ball’s comedic wheelhouse, there’s no doubt that she and Desi Arnaz blazed trails through television.
They also were pioneers in the industry for an interesting reason. Ball and Arnaz were the first interracial couple to appear on TV.
Ball and Arnaz worked well on “I Love Lucy” even with their real-life marriage less than stellar.
Ball knew she was taking a risk with her insistence, especially in the 1950s. But Ball had some pull with CBS executives to make it work and “I Love Lucy” became a hit. One other point: Ball wanted to keep her eye on Arnaz, who had a reputation for having affairs during his marriage.