Happy Birthday, Lucille Ball!
In honor of the famous comedienne, enjoy a guest post by James Sheridan, author of Lucille Ball FAQ.
Unlike many performers who began a motion picture career during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Lucille Ball did not get her start on the Broadway stage or in radio. Instead, Lucille Ball’s career as a model led her to the movie capital of the world. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Lucille Ball was a young aspiring actress from Jamestown, New York trying to find a part in New York City. Unable to secure employment as a Broadway chorus girl, Ball chose to seek modeling work.
She was soon working for the renowned designer Hattie Carnegie, but eventually moved on to a clothing store on Seventh Avenue owned by Mr. and Mrs. E.A. Jackson. One sweltering Wednesday in July 1933, Lucy was walking down Broadway in front of the Palace Theatre when she was stopped by an acquaintance, agent Sylvia Hahlo. Hahlo told Lucy that Samuel Goldwyn needed a showgirl immediately for the Eddie Cantor film Roman Scandals. Twelve girls were required, and one of the ones selected had to drop out because her mother would not let her go to California. Hahlo sent Lucille upstairs to Goldwyn’s New York representative Jim Mulvey, whose office was in the Palace building.
All of the girls were required to be poster girls, which Lucy indeed was. Lucy was the “Chesterfield Girl,” since a portrait of her painted by artist Walter Ratterman was used on billboards for Chesterfield Cigarettes. Lucy was hired as a Goldwyn Girl at a salary of $125 a week for what was originally supposed to be a six-week job. Lucy and the eleven other girls left New York for California three days later. The assignment for six weeks of work led to fifty-six years of continuous employment for Lucille Ball.
Although countless books and articles have been written about Lucille Ball, most people know only the surface details of her personal life and some basic facts about her popular television series. Lucille Ball FAQ takes us beyond the “Lucy” character to give readers information that might not be common knowledge about one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. It can be read straight through, but the FAQ format also invites readers to pick it up and dig in at any point. Background information and anecdotes are provided in such categories as:
• People Lucy found funny
• Lucy at home: her various residences throughout the years
• Movie/television/radio/theater projects that never materialized
• Lucy’s off-camera romantic attachments
James Sheridan and Barry Monush go beyond the well known facts, making this an indispensable book for all Lucille Ball fans!