Lucille Ball knew what it took to entertain and sometimes it meant trading beauty for laughs.
That’s one of the reasons why she is regarded as a legend and pioneer in comedy, several of her friends reveal. She broke barriers for women, and also for the entertainment industry, with her innovative ideas.
Her friends will always remember her for her willingness to "go to the mat for the funny," as they told Fox News during a weeklong tribute to the Queen of Comedy recently.
"The paramount thing for her was making people laugh. So whatever it took to get the laugh," said "General Hospital" mainstay Carolyn Hennesy. "And if that meant, you know – covering yourself with egg yolks, if that meant stomping on wine and being blue in the face, if that meant having a putty nose with Bill Holden and pulling it off and these crazy glasses – if it meant putting a bull's head on her. I mean, just whatever it took."
Hennesy pointed out that Ball was one of the first women who "did not mind being ugly for funny" and it was this that put her at the forefront of comedy. Hollywood historian Geoffrey Mark Fidelman, author of "The Lucy Book: Her Life in Television," noted that Ball was a source of inspiration and empowerment to women across the world because of what she accomplished not only in front of the camera but also behind the scenes.
"Ms. Ball was a trailblazer. She was the first woman to own a studio,” Fidelman said. “She did it before anybody else. So she’d be happy that women are directing, that women are producing and writing well," he said, adding that Ball was not just pushing boundaries for women but paving the way for comedians as well.
"I think how much hard work went into putting on this show every week and that it's impossible. It is impossible that they got these scripts Monday morning, and after the first season they were filming it Thursday night," Fidelman explained. "All of it – memorizing it, working out all the stuff, all of the music, the singing, the dancing for days and yet we're still talking about it. Nine hundred years later. These people were geniuses."
After her death in 1989, Ball's legacy lived one. According to the Natural Women's History Museum, she mentored several women throughout her career to ensure future generations carried her flame of comedy. Her work continues to influence other female comedians across the world.
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