How Do Actresses Achieve Iconic Status?

Friday, February 15, 2013 - 3:22pm

Icon is defined as “A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something”. Ask an individual to name an “an icon of female sensuality” and it is a good bet the name Marilyn Monroe will be among the first responses. Ask for an iconic female figure of American comedy and it is equally certain the leading answer will be Lucille Ball. If this reader happens to be one of the few who are not too familiar with this doyenne of American comic acting I would only ask you to watch I Love Lucy episodes a few times and I am sure the viewer will come away with a real appreciation of the vast reservoir comedic and acting talent contained in the dynamic actress, Lucille Ball.

Lucille gained her iconic statue through a long uphill film career that began with an unaccredited role in Goldwyn's “Roman Scandals”, worked up to comedy shorts with the Three Stooges and other lesser known acts and finally skyrocketed to fame, starring in “I Love Lucy” with her husband and co-star Desi Arnaz. Brilliant comedy enticed millions of viewers, including a very large percentage of housewives, in the early to mid- nineteen fifties, to watch I Love Lucy. The legions of die-hard fans found their true inspiration to watch I Love Lucy was Lucille's unique connection with American women.

Lucille Ball gained the love and empathy of the average American housewife, who could identify with Lucy and her outrageously funny take on everyday situations. In the 1950's the stay-at -home housewife was more or less the norm, and most of these one worker households were just beginning to make television sets a central component of indoor entertainment. Viewers, especially new housewives would watch I Love Lucy each week and easily imagine themselves somehow caught up in Lucy's more exaggerated predicaments.  Lucille Ball was a master of physical comedy and like no other actress of her time, Lucille was willing to literally do anything to get a laugh onscreen.

Besides, being an exceptional comedian, Lucille was equally sharp as a business woman who had the exceptional foresight, very rare for that time, to produce and own her own show. This investment in herself soon turned Lucille Ball into one of the richest stars of television and her overall talent and acting scope made Lucille a benchmark against which all other comic actress of her time measured themselves.

Lucille Ball's career which lasted over fifty years took her from humble beginnings to the stratosphere of television. Her blazing red hair, impeccable comic timing and screen presence turned her into one on the true iconic actresses of the twentieth century.   

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