Today is Lucille Ball’s birthday. I’ve always admired her. I think her red hair reminded me of my grandmother and since I was little, the two women were inextricably linked in my mind. One summer, I spent a good portion of my time reading books about her, researching her, and putting together a presentation and speech to deliver to inform others about her (it was for a class, I wasn’t just preaching to people on the sidewalk!) To say I’ve become familiar with her work is an understatement. In honor of Lucy, here are five things I love about (and learned from) Lucy.
- She knew what hard work and motivation would do. Lucille Ball started out as a model, worked on Broadway (under a pseudonym), and then “Queen of the Bs” as a B-List contract actress. From there, she worked her way up to having an integral role in creating I Love Lucy (and a handful of other shows later). That was a time when women just didn’t do that. They didn’t sit in business meetings and negotiate contracts, but she did. Further, after her divorce from Desi Arnaz, she bought out his share of Desilu and worked as a very active studio head. Lucy knew what her purpose was, what she wanted to do in life, and she followed her ambition to make herself the icon she is today. Know that you are capable of making your dreams happen, as long as you’re willing to work for it.
- She made a fool of herself when women were just supposed to “look pretty.” Lucy wasn’t afraid to go the distance to get a laugh, whether it was falling, making faces, or attaching bulbous noses to her normal one. First woman to really portray pregnancy and having a baby on a sitcom? That would be Lucy. Beating a dead horse from above, she wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done; neither should we. It’s more acceptable today for women to be funny (or CEOs or engineers) than it was in the past, but there’s still that barrier between men and women. Adopt her fearlessness and do what you need to do to get the job done.
- She cared about other people. When Lucy was younger, she cared for her stepfather’s parents (and her own brother). When she later moved to Hollywood, her family came too. She took care of them and helped to provide for them. Even after her divorce, she and Desi remained close. This is what you do for family and people you care about. Never lose that compassion.
- She was afraid of birds. Lucy said that she remembers little from the day of her father’s funeral when she was a young girl, but she did recall a bird getting trapped in the house. Since then, she was afraid of birds. She even went as far as removing wallpaper with pictures of birds that she just had hung (not realizing when she purchased the paper that birds were pictured). We all have those irrational fears; it’s perfectly acceptable to give in to one (just not all of them, because then you’re just a nutcase).
- She left a legacy. I can only hope to be so memorable one day.