Lucille Ball’s daughter Lucie Arnaz has a thoughtful message for everyone on Mother’s Day: celebrate your mothers, but also your mentors. And conveniently for Arnaz, Ball was both.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!” Arnaz posted to Instagram on Sunday. “You did your best under insane circumstances and I will always be grateful. I love you. I want to wish all the mentors in my life a happy Mother’s Day!!”
Lucille Ball Was a Trailblazer for Working Women
From its inception, “I Love Lucy” tackled issues such as women in the workplace and childbirth like no show before it had dared to do. Ball became the first actress to play a pregnant woman on television. In fact, according to Biography.com, Lucy gave birth to Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy” on the same day that Ball delivered Desi Jr. – January 19, 1953.
And audiences loved it. For four seasons, “I Love Lucy” was the top-rated show in the country. Its audience share for the episode featuring Little Ricky’s birth outstripped the ratings for President Eisenhower’s inauguration.
That would not be the only time that Ball made television history. “I Love Lucy” was also the first sitcom to use the three-camera format before a live studio audience, per The Hollywood Reporter. And “I Love Lucy” also made Ball and her then-husband Desi Arnaz the first television millionaires in America.
Further, Ball became the first female studio head in 1962 when she bought out Desi Arnaz’s share of Desilu Productions, the TV production studio the two of them had started together, and decided to run it.
Lucie Arnaz Remembers Her Mother
Arnaz’s favorite memories of her mother are of mundane moments, like when her mom made her a grilled cheese sandwich and they sat in the living room and talked. But Lucille Ball was often juggling work and motherhood, and she also dispensed a lot of pragmatic wisdom as she raised her kids.
“She was very nuts and bolts,” Arnaz told Good Morning America in 2019. “[She’d say], ‘You’ve got to take care of business and you’ve got to brush your teeth and you’ve got to do your homework.’ My father [would say], ‘Let’s have a fiesta. Let’s cook and let’s have a good time.’ I have a responsible side… but I’m also very much like my father.”
“She was very focused on, ‘Take care of yourself first. Put your oxygen mask on before anybody else,’” Arnaz added. “And I think about that a lot. And [she gave] very practical advice like, ‘Never leave your luggage.’ That pops into my mind a lot.”
That relentlessly practical image of Ball may clash a bit with Ball’s harebrained “I Love Lucy” character, but unlike audiences, Arnaz got to watch her mother when the cameras were off. Still, on Mother’s Day, Arnaz is lucky to have something most people don’t: a trove of “I Love Lucy” episodes in which she can see and hear her mother all over again.