‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball Used a Very Strange Technique to Develop Her Vocal Cords

by Clayton Edwards
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Many fans of classic TV know Lucille Ball for her many television shows. First and foremost among those is I Love Lucy. That show was a hit while it was on the air. It remains a favorite of nostalgic viewers today. At the same time, it changed the landscape of television altogether. They introduced the three-camera format. The I Love Lucy team was also responsible for inventing reruns and syndication. It was a groundbreaking show to say the very least.

However, Lucille Ball’s favorite place to be was on the stage. She loved being in front of a live audience. This is part of the reason why her classic sitcom was filmed in front of an audience. It is also what drove her to chase a career in musical theater.

For instance, Lucille Ball was in a stage production called Wildcat in 1960. She enjoyed being in front of the audience. However, many criticized her performance in the play. Their biggest criticisms were of her singing.

Lucille Ball’s voice came up in an interview that her daughter did with KMC Chat last year. Lucie Arnaz talked at length about her parents during the interview. At one point, she discussed how Ball developed her vocal cords early in her career.

The Weird Way Lucille Ball Developed Her Vocal Cords

The conversation about Lucille Ball’s voice started when the interviewer brought up Carole Cook. They spoke briefly about Cook’s connection to Arnaz’s documentary Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie. Then, the interviewer pointed out that Cook sang some of Ball’s parts for her in the television show.

Lucie Arnaz said that Lucille Ball sang “one or two,” parts on her own. Then, decided to have someone dub her singing parts for her. Then, Arnaz explained how Ball developed her vocal cords

She explained that Lucille Ball spent many years screaming in an “Odd, high-pitched voice,” on I Love Lucy. Before that, she was told that her voice was unpleasant. In the 30s and 40s, studio execs gave her a tip on deepening her voice so it would be “more dramatic.”

They told Lucille Ball to go out in a convertible with the top down and drive 80s miles per hour while screaming into the wind. This, they said would help develop her voice and strengthen her vocal cords.

“Well,” Lucie Arnaz said, “it did.” With the last two words, she put on a deep gravelly voice. Then, she added that the technique didn’t help her singing voice.

Then, Arnaz mentioned Lucille Ball’s performance in Wildcat. “She did okay in Wildcat. She sang her own stuff and I thought she did pretty good.” So, the critics may not have like Ball’s live singing, but her daughter didn’t think it was bad.

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