Lucille Ball – Wikipedia

With any good Biography/Documentary, there are many stories underneath the story. Besides the obvious comedic brilliance, Lucy was a savvy businesswoman with impeccable instincts. Desi too, in real life, was the architect behind the duo’s production company, Desilu, taking steps to ensure the enterprise continued to make money long after the show’s run ended.

This is only one “small” part of their legacy. Both contributed much to their 40+ years in ‘showbiz.” The new movie “Being the Ricardo’s” is a glimpse in into how their collaboration worked. The movie takes place during a single week, just after hugely popular radio host Walter Winchell outed Ball for her Communist affiliation, despite that she had just testified to the HUAC and been cleared. The accusation could have killed not just the show but Ball’s career. Being the Ricardos shows how Arnaz took quick, shrewd action and saved the day.

Another way Desi supported his wife is when she was pregnant with their second child. Arnaz stood with Ball before a group of white advertising and television executives and shamed them into acknowledging the reality of an experience that many of their own wives had gone through. The decision to “allow” Lucy to be pregnant on national television was a huge one.

Reading further into the biography of this duo was an inspiration in itself. Lucy took care of Desi in his final years too. Quite the woman, quite the pair!

Now back to the “Godmother” of Sci-Fi in Television.

This story from Entertainment Weekly tells -How Lucille Ball saved ‘Star Trek’


This article originally appeared in Entertainment Weekly’s Ultimate Guide to Star Trek.

Lucille Ball, the undisputed queen of television in the 1950s and 1960s, had already earned a place in television history with her immortal 1951-57 sitcom I Love Lucy. The financial success of her blockbuster hit, costarring then-husband Desi Arnaz, allowed the couple to buy the former RKO Studios adjacent to the Paramount lot in Los Angeles in 1957.

They named their new company Desilu Productions, and it quickly became one of the largest independent production companies in Hollywood. Lucy had a good eye for spotting proposals with mass appeal, and their company was responsible for producing or filming series like The Andy Griffith Show, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and The Dick Van Dyke Show. When Lucy bought her ex-husband’s share of the firm in 1962 (they divorced in 1960), she became the most powerful woman in television.

While many series were being shot at Desilu, the studio was in dire need of original programming of its own following the end of The Untouchables in 1963. Herbert Solow, hired to help locate new projects for the studio, brought two notable proposals to Desilu in 1964. One was Mission: Impossible; the other was Roddenberry’s quirky sci-fi idea. When Lucy’s longtime network CBS said no to Trek, Solow and Roddenberry took it to NBC. Science fiction was alien to the network’s schedule, but it ordered a pilot.

According to Solow in Marc Cushman’s history These Are the Voyages, Lucy initially thought Star Trek was about traveling USO performers. But her support for the show was necessary as it became clear how expensive the pilot would be. Lucy overruled her board of directors to make sure the episode was produced.

Her support was even more critical when NBC rejected the initial pilot, “The Cage,” in early 1965. NBC ordered a second pilot—introducing Shatner as Kirk—which Lucy agreed to help finance, again over her board’s objections. Star Trek made the fall 1966 schedule, and the pilot won its time slot (though it later suffered in the ratings). “If it were not for Lucy,” former studio executive Ed Holly told Desilu historian Coyne Steven Sanders, “there would be no Star Trek today.”

Star Trek had been on the air less than a year when Lucy sold her studio to the new owner of Paramount Pictures, and it later became Paramount Television. (It’s now part of CBS Television Studios, connected to the same network that gave Lucy her start.) Meanwhile, the executive who bought Star Trek for NBC, Grant Tinker, went on to create the next big husband-wife TV-production company with his famous spouse, Mary Tyler Moore.

Lucile Ball, The Godmother of Modern Science Fiction, Who Knew?
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