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Photos: Remembering Lucille Ball

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  1. Awaiting her break

    Lucille Ball looks cautiously over her shoulder at the future in this outtake from John Florea's 1942 photo essay on the entertainer, which touted her as being on the brink of fame after a decade of kicking around Hollywood. (This photo, and the next four in this gallery, has never before been published.)

    Life.com: Lucille Ball -- unpublished photos (John Florea / Time & Life Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Sailors love Lucy

    Lucille Ball signs autographs for admiring seamen at one of the January 1944 galas celebrating President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 62nd birthday. (Thomas D. McAvoy / Time & Life Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Primping for the president

    In this outtake from Thomas McAvoy's spread on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1944 birthday bashes, Lucille Ball prepares to meet luminaries from Hollywood and Washington.

    Life.com: Lucille Ball -- unpublished photos (Thomas D. McAvoy / Time & Life Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Lucy and a fan

    LIFE's Walter Sanders photographed Ball in costume for the extravagant dream sequence set in 18th-century France at the center of "DuBarry Was a Lady." In this 1943 adaptation of Cole Porter's Broadway hit, hoofer Ball had the lead role as a golddigging nightclub singer, opposite fellow comic Red Skelton and a rising song-and-dance man named Gene Kelly. She was billed in the movie's trailer as "Queen of the Red-Heads." (Walter Sanders / Time & Life Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Got some 'splainin' to do

    Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball strike familiar poses as they survey their new empire, the Desilu Studios, in 1958. The camera set-up behind them is actually one of Lucy and Desi's greatest innovations. When they started "I Love Lucy" in 1951, most TV shows were produced live in New York, captured on low-quality kinetoscopes, then re-aired on the West Coast. The Arnazes insisted on working in Hollywood and shooting their show in advance on film.

    Life.com: Lucille Ball -- unpublished photos (Leonard McCombe / Time & Life Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Born to be funny

    Lucille Ball was born on Aug. 6, 1911 in Jamestown, N.Y. She would grow up to be one of most iconic comediennes of the 20th century, and was a pioneer of television. (Paul Popper/Popperfoto / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. On the air

    Lucille Ball on the set of "The Phil Baker Show" radio program in 1938. (Gene Lester / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Partners in life and work

    Lucille Ball and her husband, bandleader-actor Desi Arnaz, pose for this 1950s publicity shot. (Archive Photos / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Happy family

    Desi Arnaz snaps a photo of the comedienne and their infant son, Desi Jr., in their California home in January, 1953. The couple collaborated on their hit series, "I Love Lucy." (Luciano Viti / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Classic pair

    Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance, right) also seemed to end up in one wacky situation after another on the hit TV series, "I Love Lucy." (Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Iconic moment

    Amanda Milligan, left, was paired with Lucille Ball in the famous "Job Switching" episode of "I Love Lucy." The episode originally aired on Sept. 15, 1952. (CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. City girl

    The actress reviews a script in her apartment at the New York Hilton in Manhattan in 1965. (Archive Photos / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mother and daughter

    Lucille Ball and her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, pose for a portrait on October 27, 1965. (Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Comedy legends

    Lucille Ball and Buster Keaton perform a sketch for the television show "Salute to Stan Laurel" in 1965. (Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
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Video: Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday

  1. Transcript of: Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Finally tonight, a big day for a woman so many people loved. Lucille Ball , one of the funniest women ever and a shrewd businesswoman besides, would have been 100 years old tomorrow. To celebrate her centennial, the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles is taking a look back at the extraordinary life of a woman many considered a genius, even if it took Hollywood years to realize it. NBC 's Lee Cowan reports.

    LEE COWAN reporting: She was so good at cracking jokes, most people forget that it was Lucille Ball 's good looks that got her foot in the door . The mousy brunette first made her mark in Hollywood as a blonde bombshell. It wasn't until Max Factor got a hold of her in this very room that she became America 's favorite redhead.

    Mr. STEVE NYCKLEMOE (Hollywood Museum Curator): She's just Lucille Ball . She's a legend. You say her name, you just feel good.

    Mr. DESI ARNAZ: Lucille Ball .

    COWAN: Lovable Lucy would be 100 years old tomorrow and Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet, not only for Lucy , but for her Emmy -winning sitcom, too.

    Ms. LUCILLE BALL: We're trying real hard and we're going to keep it up.

    COWAN: She did. " I Love Lucy " is still in reruns and it turns 60 this year.

    Ms. ALISON ARNGRIM (Comedian): You know, when someone says, 'You have a lot of 'splaining to do,' we all know immediately what you're referring to.

    COWAN: The collection of posters, costumes and behind the scenes moments is a fitting tribute, her daughter says, to both a clown and a pioneer.

    Ms. LUCIE ARNAZ (Lucille Ball's Daughter): Sixty years later, the little show that she was hoping would be nice home movies, you know, in case it was a flop, has brought so much joy and so much healing to a planet.

    COWAN: TV immortalized her as the happy housewife, married on the show and in real life to a once unknown Cuban band leader named Desi Arnaz .

    Ms. DANELLE DADIGAN (Hollywood Museum President): Truly, without Desi Arnaz , there wouldn't be a Desilu and there wouldn't be an "I Love Lucy ."

    COWAN: But it's true the woman with a talent for timing made 40 films on her own before she ever met Ricky Ricardo .

    COWAN: But it's that humor that we'll all remember, as funny today as she ever was. In the medium that goes by in a flash, everybody still loves Lucy . Lee Cowan , NBC News , Hollywood .

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