Lucille Ball was a leggy showgirl, model and B-grade movie queen whose pumpkin hair and genius for comedy made her an icon of television.
A tough-talking woman, Ball used her stardom and show business savvy to become, with her then-husband, the late Desi Arnaz, head of one of Hollywood's major studios, Desilu. Despite her business acumen, she remained the unquestioned queen of television comedy.
From her star-struck childhood through her struggles as a wisecracking movie actress in the 1930s and '40s to the television career that made her a legend, Ball's life was in the best show business tradition of rags to riches.
Almost humbly, she liked to say she owed her enormous success not so much to talent but to a magical combination of guts and good supporting players. Her greatest achievements, she always would add, were not any milestones in her career but ranked somewhere under the birth of her two children, Lucie in 1951 and Desi Jr., two years later.
"I Love Lucy," a product of TV's Golden Age which Ball co-created and starred in, continues via syndication to be viewed by millions around the world.
"I am not funny," Ball told an interviewer for Rolling Stone magazine in 1983. "My writers were funny. My directors were funny. The situations were funny. . . . What I am is brave. I have never been scared. Not when I did movies, certainly not when I was a model and not when I did "I Love Lucy."