Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American comedienne, model, film and television actress and studio executive. She was star of the sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy and Life with Lucy, and was one of the most popular and influential stars in the United States during her lifetime. Ball had one of Hollywood's longest careers. In the 1930s and 1940s she started as an RKO girl, playing bit parts as a chorus girl or similar roles and becoming a television star during the 1950s. She continued making films in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1962, Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu, which produced many successful and popular television series such as "Mission Impossible" and "Star Trek".
Ball was nominated for an Emmy Award thirteen times, and won four times. In 1977, Ball was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Award. She was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989.
In 1929, Ball landed work as a model and later began her performing career on Broadway using the stage name "Diane Belmont". She assumed many small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures. Ball was dubbed the "Queen of the Bs" (referring to her many roles in B-films). In 1951, Ball was instrumental in the creation of the television series I Love Lucy. The show co-starred her then-husband, Desi Arnaz, as Ricky Ricardo, Vivian Vance as Ethel Mertz, and William Frawley as Fred Mertz. The Mertzes were the Ricardos' landlords and friends. The show ended in 1957 after 180 episodes.
The cast remained intact (with some additional cast members added) for a series of one-hour specials from 1957 to 1960 as part of The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. Its original network title was The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the first season, and The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Presents The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the following seasons. Later reruns were titled the more familiar Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, which was a perennial summer favorite on CBS through 1967. The specials emphasized guest stars such as Ann Sothern, Rudy Vallee, Tallulah Bankhead, Fred MacMurray and June Haver, Betty Grable and Harry James, Fernando Lamas, Maurice Chevalier, Danny Thomas and his Make Room for Daddy co-stars, Red Skelton, Paul Douglas, Ida Lupino and Howard Duff, Milton Berle, Robert Cummings, and, in the final episode, "Lucy Meets the Moustache", Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams. Ball went on to star in two more successful television series: The Lucy Show, which ran on CBS from 1962 to 1968 (156 Episodes),
and Here's Lucy from 1968 to 1974 (144 episodes). Her last attempt at a television series was a 1986 show called Life with Lucy – which failed after eight episodes aired, although 13 were produced.
On April 18, 1989, Ball was at her home in Beverly Hills when she complained of chest pains. An ambulance was called and she was rushed to the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was diagnosed with dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours, receiving an aorta from a 27-year-old man who had died in a motorcycle accident. The surgery was successful, and Ball began recovering very quickly, even walking around her room with little assistance. She received a flurry of get-well wishes from Hollywood, and across the street from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Hard Rock Café erected a sign reading "Hard Rock Loves Lucy". On April 26, shortly after dawn, Ball awoke with severe back pains and soon lost consciousness. All attempts to revive her proved unsuccessful, and she died at approximately 05:47 PDT. Doctors determined that the 77-year-old comedian had succumbed to a second aortic rupture, this time in the abdominal area, and that it was unrelated to her surgery the previous week. Her cremated ashes were initially interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, but in 2002 her children moved her remains to the family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where Ball's parents, brother, and grandparents are buried.