Profile: Lucille ball, comedienne

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I love Lucy

All right! Don't get ahead of yourself.

No, that was the name of the show, right?

You're getting good at this – yes it is! Lucille Ball – America's most popular comedienne – appeared in 179 episodes between 1951 to 1957 which attracted 67 per cent of America's viewing public throughout. Episodes have been seen across the world in dozens of different languages since.

It charts the lives of two couples, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Fred and Ethel Mertz, but mostly focused around Lucy's clumsy, scatterbrained attempts at keeping house and general clowning around as she tries to secure the future she wants in showbusiness – but which she has little talent to achieve.

So a bit of harmless kooky comedy then?

Yes. And no. Ball, who prior to the show had a career mostly in B movies, was an ace at physical comedy and devising screwball antics for the character. She was often stuffing food into her mouth, crossing her eyes or falling over but that appearance of a dizzy redhead shouldn't belie her real legacy. Off-screen she was an extremely successful TV executive and the first female owner of a film studio. She not only starred in the hit show but wrote it. A comedy show about women was unheard-of at the time – and furthermore it satirised the stereotype of a 1950s housewife by showing someone who was terrible at it. On top of that, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were played by Lucille and her real-life husband Desi Arnaz - they soldiered on with the show despite the fact their real marriage was falling apart.

Wow, all that more than50 years ago?

That's right. And to show their love of the star, America has been celebrating what would have been her 100th birthday this month.