Television audiences always remember Lucille Ball as the titular character she plays in the hit 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy. Lucy on the show is bubbly and innocent, it appears as if Lucille is a demanding figure behind the scenes. Some claim that the comedic actress can be a bit of a monster when she is working on set. Her demanding nature is only in pursuit of comic perfection, making her various shows so successful. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at how Lucille Ball was a monster on set, according to costars.
Since I Love Lucy first airing in the 1950s, Lucille Ball downs in history as one of the most legendary and inspirational comedic stars! Struggling to find fame in Hollywood for many years and ends up on the radio. Lucille receives the opportunity to star in her very own television sitcom. As a consummate professional, Lucille took the job very seriously. From the very first episode of I Love Lucy, Lucille put a lot of work into honing her comedic performances. She expects everybody else on the set of the series to be working just as hard as she is.
I Love Lucy becomes one of the most popular television series of all time, Lucille must’ve been doing something right! However, the star’s demanding nature behind the scenes of the series rubbed a lot of her coworkers the wrong way. I Love Lucy comes to an end, with many horror stories about working with Lucille on the show’s set.
One of the coworkers that Lucille could often found butting heads with on the set of I Love Lucy was Vivian Vance; who portrayed the character of Ethel. Although Lucille Ball felt more professional respect for Vivian than she did arguably any other coworker on the set. The two still found themselves butting head numerous times due to creative differences. Lucille and Vivian were the same age. Though Vivian often done up by the makeup department to look a bit older and frumpier than Lucille was.
The purpose of Vivian Vance looking the way that she did when portraying the character of Ethel was for comedy. Of course, Lucille’s real-life husband, Desi Arnaz, was playing her husband on the screen. Desi Arnaz played the fictional Ricky Ricardo. He was as suave and charming on the series as Desi was in real life. Meanwhile, the character of Ethel had a husband played by William Frawley; a much older and far less attractive screen presence than Desi Arnaz. For these reasons and more, the comedy of I Love Lucy simply necessitated Vivian not looking quite as attractive on the screen as the character of Lucy did.
Understandably, the pain of having to look less attractive than Lucille started to wear on Vivian Vance during the filming of I Love Lucy. Although Lucille and Vivian were the same age, Vivian’s character married a much older man than Lucille was. Not only that, but Vivian’s character routinely made the butt of the joke for how unattractive she was supposed to be. With her still not apparently being good enough for her husband Fred, despite the age gap.
Vivian Vance’s distaste for performing in I Love Lucy was also worsened by her poor relationship with actor William Frawley. He played her aforementioned on-screen husband, Fred. Fred and Ethel Mertz proved the perfect counterpoint to Ricky and Lucille Ricardo. Despite the tension that occurred between the stars on set. Lucille always remained happy with Vivian’s performance, even though Vivian might not have been content with her role.
Although Vivian Vance may have grown to consider Lucille Ball a bit of a monster during the time that they worked together on I Love Lucy; The two maintained professional respect for each other and continued to work together over the years. Led up to Vivian’s death at the age of 70 from cancer. Vivian understood that Lucille was simply trying to make the best comedy possible for the television audience at home. And that she never intended to make her feel bad about herself.
Even though Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance didn’t always see things the same way while working together on I Love Lucy; Lucille claimed that Vivian was the costar that she had the most professional respect. According to the late Lucille Ball, no one could make her laugh on the set of one of her shows quite like Vivian Vance. Although Vivian is always relegated to playing second fiddle to Lucille; she was an integral part of what made her comedy work.
Besides Vivian Vance, many other stars came out after I Love Lucy’s end with stories about how hard it could sometimes be to work with Lucille Ball. Former child actor Keith Thibodeaux played the character of Little Ricky on the series. And he has some memories of how demanding Lucille Ball could be to others on the set of the show. While Keith claims that Lucille was always kind towards him. He also remembers feeling a little bit intimidated by the beloved comedic actress due to how seriously she took her work.
Another person that worked with Lucille Ball and claimed that she wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with was fellow female comedian Edie Adams. Edie Adams worked alongside Lucille Ball on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Which was the real-life husband and wife duo’s follow-up to I Love Lucy. Lucille’s quest for comedic perfection continued on the series, and arguably continued for many years after that!
According to the late Edie Adams, Lucille wasn’t quite as easy to work with as many other comedians of the time. While many comedians of the day liked to keep things simple and easy on the set of their shows; Lucille was a much more authoritarian ruler on her sets. However, this attitude from Lucille was simply a result of her workflow being different than the majority of her fellow comedians. Whereas other comedians of the time had a much more lackadaisical approach to their comedy; Lucille was more of a stickler.
Part of the reason that Lucille Ball could be such a monster on the set of her shows was that she hated improvisation. Lucille needed lots of rehearsal in order to get her comedic performances exactly the way that she wanted them to be. This required everyone who was working with her to be able to say every single line exactly the way that she needed it to be said. This insistence on perfect delivery led to rehearsals for Lucille’s shows being much more demanding than rehearsals for other programs of a similar nature. And this didn’t go unnoticed to her variety of costars.
Lucille Ball was a very physical comedic actress. She put a whole lot of care into every one of her comedy bits. During the days of I Love Lucy, this often meant going out of her way to become an expert on seemingly unrelated skills, such as rolling pizza dough. If the character of Lucy was going to have to roll pizza dough. Lucille was going to make sure that she knew how to do it in real life! According to Lucille, she couldn’t figure out how to make rolling pizza dough funny unless she really understood the art.
While Lucille Ball’s demanding nature on the set of her shows certainly paid off in terms of success. It still rubbed some of her coworkers the wrong way. Another thing that made the environment on the sets of I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour difficult was the real-life relationship between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had been married for over a decade before starring on I Love Lucy. And they went through numerous ups and downs throughout their marriage. They had originally been hoping that performing on the show together would save their marriage. But this didn’t turn out to be true. Instead, their tumultuous relationship continued over the course of the series filming. as well as the filming of their subsequent show together.
Since the earliest days of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s marriage; Desi had a habit of cheating on his spouse with various ladies of the night. According to the late Desi Arnaz, he didn’t understand why his wife would be upset about his cheating so long as the women that he was cheating on her with were prostitutes. Lucille and Desi didn’t see things the same way, leading to them getting divorced after two decades of marriage. Some say that one of the reasons that Desi cheated on Lucille so much during the time that I Love Lucy was being filmed was that he was often emasculated by her controlling behavior on the show’s set.
Between Lucille and Desi, Lucille was the one with the much stronger comedic vision for I Love Lucy. Desi often had little to say about the artistic direction of the show. While Lucille exerted so much creative input that it literally scared her coworkers. Although Lucille and Desi certainly loved each other. Some speculate that Desi continued cheating even after it began driving their marriage apart because he needed to feel like he was in control somewhere.
Although it seems that Lucille Ball could be a bit of a monster on the set of her shows. She was simply doing what was best for her comedic vision. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Lucille Ball rubbed many of her coworkers the wrong way due to her strict professionalism on the set of her shows. Or did you assume that the beloved comedic actress had been as easy going as her peers?