On this day in 1911, Lucille Desiree Ball, one of America’s most famous redheads and beloved comic actresses, is born near Jamestown, New York.
After waitressing and working as a hat model, Ball was hired in 1933 as the Chesterfield Cigarette Girl. Around this time, she began playing bit parts in Hollywood movies. She went on to leading roles in dozens of B-movies in the late 1930s and 1940s. In 1940, Ball met the Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz while shooting Too Many Girls and the couple soon eloped.
From 1947 to 1951, Ball starred as a ditzy wife on the radio program My Favorite Husband. When CBS decided to launch the popular series on the relatively new medium of TV, Lucy insisted that Arnaz be cast as her husband in the TV version.
Network executives initially argued against the idea, arguing that no one would believe the couple were married.
However, Ball and Arnaz were eventually cast as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy, which aired from 1951 to 1957 and became one of the most popular TV sitcoms in history. According to Ball’s obituary in The New York Times: “It was a major national event when, on Jan. 19, 1953, Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky on the air the same night Lucille Ball gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha 4th. The audience for the episode was estimated at 44 million, a record at the time, and CBS said 1 million viewers responded with congratulatory telephone calls, telegrams, letters or gifts.”
Ball died at age 77 on April 26, 1989. In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service honored her with a commemorative stamp.
I still love to watch the I Love Lucy show! It doesn't matter that I've seen the show multiple times, I still always laugh. She just had that rare quality.
One of my favorite episodes is when she is doing a commercial for Vitameatavegamin.
First execution by electric chair
At Auburn Prison in New York, the first execution by electrocution in history is carried out against William Kemmler (a produce merchant), who had been convicted of murdering his lover, Matilda Ziegler, with an axe.
On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler became the first person to be sent to the chair. After he was strapped in, a charge of approximately 700 volts was delivered for only 17 seconds before the current failed. Although witnesses reported smelling burnt clothing and charred flesh, Kemmler was far from dead, and a second shock was prepared. The second charge was 1,030 volts and applied for about two minutes, whereupon smoke was observed coming from the head of Kemmler, who was clearly deceased. An autopsy showed that the electrode attached to his back had burned through to the spine.
Dr. Southwick applauded Kemmler's execution with the declaration, "We live in a higher civilization from this day on," while American inventor George Westinghouse, an innovator of the use of electricity, remarked, "They would have done better with an axe."