Celebs in Pics

Rare Vintage Photos of Lucille Ball's Life at Home

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

As the star of I Love Lucy, American actress Lucille Ball is still undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s biggest names. Born in Jamestown, New York, she moved frequently throughout her young childhood, as a result of her father’s job as a Bell Telephone linesman. After deciding to pursue a career in show business, Ball moved to New York City, then eventually across the country to Los Angeles. It was in California that her career really took off—and so did her experience as a homeowner. Though Ball wasn’t one to snatch up real estate like some celebrities today, she did own a few homes throughout her life. Take a peek inside three of them in these vintage photos.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball spent the early years of her showbiz career in New York City, before moving to California. After marrying in 1940, Ball and her first husband, Desi Arnaz, bought a ranch in Chatsworth, located in the San Fernando Valley outside of Los Angeles.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

The five-acre ranch was well-suited to the animal-loving couple, who had a pack of dogs, cats, chickens, a pig, and a cow named the Duchess of Devonshire.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball and Arnaz were particularly fond of cocker spaniels. They had at least two, named Pinto and Taffy.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball and Arnaz named the ranch “Desilu,” a portmanteau of their names that would later also serve as the name of their studio. They considered it their dream home.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

The house, built by acclaimed architect Paul R. Williams, was only partially finished when Ball and Arnaz purchased it. They paid $16,500 for it in 1941.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball would decorate the house in her signature style, which she once described as “early Victorian” meets “bastard American.” She brought her love for frilly decor into her later homes, too.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

The couple sometimes referred to Desilu as a”dollhouse.” Ball poses like a doll in this photo—perhaps a byproduct of her modeling days in New York.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball and Arnaz developed the ranch to be a retreat for their Hollywood friends, adding a pool, a guest house, and even a large barbecue pit. Arnaz would reportedly stay in the guest house during the couples’ legendary fights.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Despite the couple’s arguments, Arnaz was known for his grand romantic gestures. For Ball’s 30th birthday, he filled their pool with gardenias and serenaded her with 40 friends.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Given Arnaz’s background as a bandleader, the house was frequently filled with music. Ball also had musical talents—she started her acting career as a chorus girl on Broadway.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

In this photo, Ball is pictured playing the piano with her mother at Desilu. The couple enjoyed entertaining family and friends, hosting large parties.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball took up several additional hobbies at home, including painting. She also enjoyed gardening.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

In the earlier days of her California career, Ball landed leading roles in B-films and supporting roles in A-films before moving into television with Arnaz. The two would commute to Hollywood or Culver City for work from Desilu.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

I Love Lucy debuted in 1951, while the couple was still living at Desilu. It would go on to become the most-watched TV show in America for four of its six seasons.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

In 1951, Ball became pregnant with her daughter, Lucie Arnaz. In fact, the pilot of I Love Lucy was filmed while Ball was showing, but it made no mention of the pregnancy.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball and Arnaz had three miscarriages before Lucie was born on July 17, 1951.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Lucie would go on to star with her mother in the show Here’s Lucy, which ran from 1968 to 1974. Her younger brother, Desi Jr., would also star on the show.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Despite their growing fame, Ball and Arnaz were able to live a relatively low-key life at Desilu through the first few years of I Love Lucy. That is, when they weren’t hosting their lavish parties.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

I Love Lucy’s sponsor, Philip Morris, wanted the family to move to New York, which was where most TV shows were broadcast at the time. Not to mention that’s where the show was set.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

But the couple refused, choosing instead to take a pay cut to accommodate the extra costs associated with filming in L.A. yet airing nationwide. Their one stipulation: They’d get to keep the rights to the episodes, which ultimately made them millions of dollars.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

In 1953, Ball had her son, Desi Jr. Her pregnancy was written into I Love Lucy, but CBS, the show’s network, would not use the word “pregnant” in the episodes. Instead, Lucy was “expecting.”

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Because Desi Jr. was scheduled to be delivered via C-section, the network knew exactly when he’d be born. They scheduled the episode in which the character Lucy gives birth to coincide with the day that Ball gave birth, boosting ratings.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

In 1954, Arnaz reportedly won a vacant lot in Rancho Mirage, California, in a poker game. The couple hired Paul R. Williams—the same architect who designed Desilu—to build them a vacation home there.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Eventually, Ball and Arnaz made the decision to sell Desilu. It was purchased by onetime child actress Jane Withers in 1956.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Though they adored Desilu, Ball and Arnaz needed to move somewhere with more privacy, given their escalating fame. Furthermore, the suburbs began encroaching on their rural ranch, and traffic was making their commute difficult.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Even after they left Desilu, Ball and Arnaz continued to visit their old home, driving by just to look at it. According to one story, Ball even entered the home unannounced when Withers was out. Withers returned to find Ball dismayed at her decor choices.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Sadly, Desilu no longer exists. It was demolished in 1976 to the heartbreak of Ball and Arnaz.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

After leaving Desilu, the couple moved to 1001 North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills. The house offered far more privacy, as its yard was walled in.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball and Arnaz purchased their Beverly Hills home in 1955 for $85,000. They spent six months renovating it, during which time the family lived at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ironically, the exterior of the home was used in an episode of I Love Lucy before the couple purchased it. It served as the fictional home of actor Richard Widmark.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball would live in this Beverly Hills home for the rest of her life—even after she and Arnaz divorced in 1960. The two remained business partners for a number of years, and close friends for the rest of their lives.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

In 1961, Ball married comedian Gary Morton. He moved into her Beverly Hills home.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball and Morton pose with Lucie and Desi Jr. outside the front door of the family home. Desi Jr. would go on to live in the guesthouse in the backyard with his one-time fiancée Liza Minnelli.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball also kept an apartment in New York at the Hilton in Midtown. She lived in a duplex with a pretty stunning view.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

The bedroom was a little more Hollywood Regency and less of Ball’s typical Victorian frilly style. Nor did it look like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s Upper East Side apartment.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

The living room was also quite modern. Ball is pictured here with Morton.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Music followed Ball to New York. Her apartment at the Hilton included a baby grand piano.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Lucie married her first husband, Philip Vandervort Menegaux, in the backyard of Ball’s Beverly Hills home in 1971. They divorced in 1976.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball lived in her Beverly Hills home until her death in 1989. Here, she and Morton sit for an interview with Barbara Walters in 1977.

lifestyle, rare vintage photos of lucille ball's life at home

Ball’s will stipulated that the house be sold after her death, and Morton complied. But rumor has it that Ball still haunts the old house.

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