So Much More than Lucy
Lucille Ball's legacy is more than her movies and her television shows.
While Lucille Ball may be best known for her starring role as Lucy Ricardo in "I Love Lucy," she had a body of work that extended well beyond that show's six-year run in the 1950s.
"She was 42 movies into her career by the time I Love Lucy came on the air, and many weren't comedies," Gunderson says.
But her legacy is more than her movies and her television shows; Ball was also a trailblazer for women and for comedy.
"She was among the first, honestly, to not care if she looked ridiculous in the process of getting a laugh," Gunderson says. "At that point in time, most female roles, especially leading ladies, were love interests or sex symbols, kind of passive and thus attractive in a traditional sense. Lucille Ball changed all of that."
Look at the main premise of I Love Lucy, Gunderson says – at every plot, every laugh. The common theme? "She was always trying for more; she wasn't satisfied being in the house."
Hijinks would ensue, of course, but that desire driving the laughs struck a chord.
"That resonated with women – and everyone – in the 1950s," Gunderson says. "She broke barriers in that she wasn't valuable for just being attractive. She was valuable in that she could really make people laugh." – Sara Toth