Lucille Ball’s First Performance Wasn’t on the Stage

She was both the star and producer of I Love Lucy, the most popular of all her shows. But she was also in The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy, and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. She later appeared in minor film roles in the 30s and 40s, cast as a chorus girl or in similar roles.

Lucille Ball, Hollywood Star, Rests Between Takes at Her Studio
Lucille Ball, Hollywood Star, Rests Between Takes At Her Studio. Photo By GBM Historical Images/Shutterstock

That’s when she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz. The two eloped and endured a long and troubled marriage. Despite the hardships, Lucille Ball made a major influence on pop culture and women. For instance, in 1962, she became the first woman to run a major TV studio, Desilu Productions.

So, maybe a look into her past might explain how she created such a bright future.

A Rowdy Little Tomboy

Lucille was born in Jamestown, New York, on August 6, 1911, to an electrician father and young mother. The eldest of two children, she saw herself as a tomboy rather than a girly girl. Still, she was her daddy’s little girl and the father-daughter pair would play fight, which created her rowdy behavior.

Ann Miller Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball Portrait For Too Many Girls (1940)
Ann Miller Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball Portrait For Too Many Girls (1940). Photo By Mediapunch/Shutterstock

Rumor has it that, due to Lucille’s energy, her mother had to wrap a leash around her to keep her close while she was doing laundry. Despite that, or because of it, the young Lucille knew how to work a crowd by the time she was four.

Her Unlikely First Performance

Full of imagination and energy, Lucille tended to wander away from home, leaving her parents constantly worried (now the leash makes more sense). Her mother struck a deal with the local butcher to allow Lucille to run up and down the street between their home and the shop.

Lucille Ball - 1942
Lucille Ball – 1942. Photo By Rko/Kobal/Shutterstock

It was on the butcher’s counter that Lucille made her debut. In her autobiography, she recalled taking the counter as her personal stage, performing for the customers. She would dance, twirl and even jump like a frog. And so, in the butcher’s shop, a star was born.

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