On This Day: ‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball Dies at Age 77 in 1989

by Joe Rutland
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Lucille Ball, a legend on TV thanks to “I Love Lucy” and her keen business mind, died on this day in 1989 from heart issues at 77 years old.

Who doesn’t love Lucy? The whole world fell in love with the once-struggling movie and theater actress when she appeared on TV. Ball and then-husband Desi Arnaz started up “I Love Lucy” and, boy howdy, did viewers eat that show up. CBS hit a grand slam by having Ball as one of its biggest stars.

Lucille Ball had three other sitcom series, two of which, “The Lucy Show” and “Here’s Lucy,” aired on CBS. Her last endeavor into the sitcom world, “Life with Lucy,” aired for a few episodes on ABC before it was canceled.

Lucille Ball Played Major Role In ‘Golden Age of Television’

The land of 1950s television is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age of Television.” A solid argument could be made that two entertainers – Ball and Jackie Gleason – were the pillars of CBS’s entertainment division.

Ball and Arnaz developed Desilu Productions, a company that oversaw the taping and distribution of “I Love Lucy.” Desilu also would become the home of other shows even as Ball and Arnaz were working on their own show. “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” were among the shows using Desilu’s studios for their work.

As many know, Lucille Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960 after many years of an acrimonious relationship. Ball would take over the leadership of Desilu Productions, making it a home where two more of her sitcoms would be filmed.

Ball and Arnaz had two children, Lucie and Desi Jr., during their marriage. She remarried a year later to comic Gary Morton in 1961, whom she remained married to until her death.

Lucy died on April 26, 1989, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was hospitalized on April 18 after she complained of chest pains. The (not-natural) redhead was born in Jamestown, N.Y. Originally, Lucille Ball was buried after cremation in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles. But her children moved her remains to the family plot in Jamestown in 2002.

Ball Remains On TVs Around The World Through ‘I Love Lucy’

It probably never entered Ball’s mind that “I Love Lucy” would become a worldwide phenomenon. Thanks to the miracle of reruns, the show has never gone out of syndication.

A couple of trivia tidbits among many about Lucy. She made the most appearances on the cover of “TV Guide” with 39, including its first one with her holding Desi Jr. The Friars Club, famous for being predominantly male and hosting many roasts of entertainers, named a room in its New York club in honor of Ball. Hey, if the Friars name a room in your honor, then that’s a big deal.

Lucille Ball was a big deal during her lifetime. She remains one thanks to her TV shows, iconic red hair, and the agility to rise from struggling stage actress to TV legend.

Take a look at Lucy being interviewed by talk-show host Dick Cavett back in the 1970s. Thanks for the laughs and memories, Lucy.

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