Lucille Ball's 100th birthday: Blow out the candles with these classic clips


Image Credit: Everett Collection

Lucille Ball would’ve turned 100 today, almost sixty years after I Love Lucy started cracking up TV viewers and never stopped. There isn’t much new to be said about Ball’s legacy: How she defined the modern sitcom, how she paved the way for every female comedy legend — from Mary Tyler Moore to Roseanne to Tina Fey — who came after her, how her show’s popularity has outlasted all its 1950s rivals (Gunsmoke, The Honeymooners) and is still a daytime TV staple around the world.

Instead, let’s let Lucy do the talking. Here’s a clip (below) from 1953’s “Lucy’s Last Birthday,” in which Lucy thinks everyone has forgotten all about her special day when, in reality, they were just planning a surprise. It’s a classic I Love Lucy reversal that leads to a classic comic set piece: Lucy interrupts Ricky’s show with a full “Friends of the Friendless” marching band to let the world know she’s been abandoned and forgotten on her birthday, delivering a hysterical woe-is-me speech addressed to the crowd — but aimed straight at her husband. Friendless, Lucy? Never.

And, because I just can’t resist, here’s my favorite Lucy moment: the legendary Vitameatavegamin scene from 1952’s “Lucy Does a TV Commercial.” I know, I know, it’s everyone’s favorite. But it still gets me every time.

After you watch these clips, head to the comments to let us know what I Love Lucy moment you’ll be thinking about on Lucy’s 100th birthday!

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Comments (406 total) Add your comment
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  • Rachael

    Even though I’m in this generation and I was born in 2000 I think her candy show is really funny.

    • Rachael

      so cool

    • Chelsea

      Same here. I’m in my early twenties and I Love Lucy has been one of my favorite shows for as long as I can remember. I guess it’s just that when something is genuinely funny, it’s always funny.

    • rebecca a.

      Me too. I’m 26 and I absolutely adore I Love Lucy. The chocolate episode along with the stomping of the grapes are 2 of my favorites. Damn, why can’t they make show like this anymore..

      • bren

        There can not be any more clean and funny shows because people want to much filth and violence in shows, If it doesn’t have the worst foul words, or alot of nudity and sex, then no one likes it. Today shows all have people sleeping with everyone, cussing like crazy, and there seems to be a gay person in every show now. Did you notice in the lucy shows not only no launguage but they didn’t even sleep in the same bed. A good clean comedy is just that a comedy, not about sex, or sexuality, or showing ones body. Maybe someday someone in the tv industry will stand up for morals and values and start making good clean family shows again. Untill then there are some british sitcoms that are clean and funny. A few are as time goes by , last of the summer wine, and keeping up appearances. They are on the pbs channel.

      • @bren

        Yeah, that’s the free market for you.

      • DRG

        A fair point, but “I Love Lucy” represents the opposite extreme in which a married couple could not sleep in the same bed and in which Lucy could not use the world “pregnant” to tell Rickey she was going to have a baby.

      • dc

        Filth & violence, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. Lucy had to fight to have a Cuban husband and a pregnancy on television, don’t oversimplify her – she was an envelope pushing pioneer!

    • SHONI

      I absolutely love “I Love Lucy” the show is still funni til this day. I watch it when it comes on tv..Happy birthday lucy

    • rose&tonyhojnacki

      we loved all of lucy’s show’s and are favorite were the choc. and the wine stumping show, happy birthday lucy

    • Jodi

      Happy Birthday dear, dear Lucy! I am in my early seventies, and cherish sweet memories of my early twenties, as a young bride, ALWAYS working in “I Love Lucy” in my daily schedule. I was about as confident as you with your tears, so you certainly identified with me, as with thousands of others like me. I believe EVERYBODY loves Lucy!

  • Desi Arnaz

    I Love Lucy was never just a title. Happy 100th Birthday, my love!

    • Sarah

      There never was nor will there ever be another “Lucy”! Happy birthday! May you be resting in peace! I always watch every episode on TV.

    • Eileen L.

      Happy Birthday Dear Lucy I am your #1 fan I think I know the shows by heart. Everytime I could see I Love Lucy it was always like the first time I am 61 so I have seen the shows over and over I liked them all but I really liked when they went to Hollywood for Ricky to star in a movie I loved the whole trip they made from her packing the convertable to the bed moving around the room when the train went past to her meeting the stars in L..A. To me Lucy is really never gone she is still right here with us. Lucy you are truly the brightest shinning star Happy Birthday Lucy and I Love Lucy

      • Eugene L

        yes, i can remember watching ” I LOVE LUCY” as a child wouldn’t miss it for the world. what ever i was doing at the time and Lucy was about to come on , everything stopped had to see my Lucy! with Lucy being as funny as she was, her comedy played a big part of me having a happy childhood. What made me a even bigger fan was when i found out that we have the same Birthday. Miss you Lucy!!!

      • Squishmar

        Well Happy Birthday to you too then, Eugene! :)

    • Diane

      How sweet! :) The world has loved you both very much, and still does today.

    • Cherie Millsaps

      You and Lucy were so much in love. We could all tell. I always wondered what happened to divide you two.. They’ll never be another Lucy! Loved the show! Need more like it NOW! Love you Lucy and “Happy Birthday” to a wonderful woman.

      • discobabe

        What ‘divided’ them was his wandering eye… and hands.. and other parts. He was a scoundrel.

      • Ana

        My understanding is that it was his drinking along with the stress of running a major tv studio together. I’m not saying he never cheated (I really don’t know.), but they did remain friends until his death.

    • Ginny

      I truly, truly loved the show. Happy Birthday Lucy and I will always remember you. I really love the statue they have of you in Palm Springs, CA. I use to walk past it everyday on my way to work and I just admired it and if it had a little dirt on it I would wipe it off. Love ya!

    • Susan

      Happy 100th Birthday, Dear Lucy! Thanks for all the laughs! I’ll be 63 in a few weeks and have been laughing at you and with you as long as I can remember. As a proud redhead, you gave me hope that I could be something more than just the recipient of jokes about my hair color! And Thank You Desi for loving her and sharing her with all of us. I have LOVED LUCY for most of my life and still watch her anytime I can. Lucy, you’re in my heart forever. Thank You!

    • Kiki

      Awww so cute! Brought a tear to my eye!
      Happy Bday to my idol, an icon and a wonderful woman!
      I love ya and I wish I could have met you! But you passed away the morning before I was born!

  • Sharon

    You can always tell when someone is a genius at what they do. It’s timeless. My grandchildren laugh at Lucy episodes now, just like we did back then, and I can watch the same episode for the tenth time and still end up laughing.

    • tg

      True. I’m 44 and grew up watching Lucy as a girl after school. I was so closely identified with Lucy’s character that the show made me nervous as much as it made me laugh. I was always worried about Lucy getting in trouble with Ricky and wondered what would befall Lucy and Ethel each day. Still, I watched and waited and laughed. I love this show and treasure Lucy and the memories I associate with it. Lucy was wonderful and unique.

  • LisaC

    I love Lucy…forever in our hearts!! <3

  • judy barnhill

    i love the lucy show that come on tv. i wish she was back on tv again like tv land judy barnhill

  • Lisa

    Happy 100th Birthday Lucy. It’s my favorite show and will always be.

  • Liane

    I liked the episodes when she visited L.A. I was 7-8-9 when they were airing re-runs in the mid-sixties!

  • jane

    The grape stomping show is the best – hands down!

  • JOEL

    I LOVE LUCY!!!!! My favorite moments were watching this show with my mother!!!

  • arlenekucan

    Lucy was a Maverick; all other women comedians have copied her; the difference – Lucy did it as it came natural to her; the others were staged.

    • dc

      Lucy was not a natural born comedienne, she worked hard to achieve her results, and had learned from working with greats of the silent era earlier in her career (check out The Fuller Brush Girl, for one). Some of her guest stars (Joan Crawford, Richard Burton) were cowed by her work ethic – if Lucy could intimidate those pros, that gives you an idea of her dedication. Conversely, when she saw a natural comedy great, like Carol Burnett or John Ritter, she totally supported them.

      • Squishmar

        dc… you are so right. It’s just a testament to her talent that it *appears* natural. After seeing the episodes over and over (some as much as 25 or more) you really appreciate the work and rehearsal that had to go in to getting the timing just right on some of the gags and scenes. Amazing. But then they were all talented enough to ad lib at the flubs that come up and I’ve learned to appreciate those all the more. Yes, she tried at first in her career to be the glamour girl and was really stunning but fate had other plans for her. ;)

  • Flameskimmer

    AWESOME!!!! I have always loved Lucy!! Happy Birthday, dear sweet, irreplaceable Lucy!!

  • maddie

    I’m only 14, but when I found I Love Lucy on TV, I was obsessed. Now it’s my favorite show ever. Happy birthday!!!

  • Merla Jean

    My Mom watched Lucy , my sisters and I were hooked . Now my nieces and my son are hooked on Lucy. We “Love Lucy”, “Happy Birthday Lucy”

  • Beth Roberts

    I grew up watching Lucy. She still make me laugh. Happy Birthday! As for which moment was memorable, which one wasn’t?

  • Melody

    I love Lucy I’ve been looking @ her show since I was 9 yrs old I would rush home from a Girl Scoot Meeting @ 3:15 and watch her I am now older and I still watch her I wake up @ 5am until it’s time for me to go to work & watch her she now is having a Marathon on now on Halmark now for her BDAY I love them all so all of the shows are my favorites

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