Lucie Arnaz Thinks Mom Lucille Ball Turned To Acting Because ‘It Was Her Opportunity To Be a Kid’ After ‘Rough’ Childhood

Lucille Ball played one of the silliest, most vivacious characters to ever grace our TV screens: Lucy Ricardo. Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, says there’s a deep reason her mother was drawn to comedic acting. The I Love Lucy actor had a difficult childhood growing up and turned to performance “as a relief.”

Lucille Ball dancing
Lucille Ball | Bettmann, Getty Images

Lucille Ball wanted to be an actor from the very beginning

From a young age, Ball “was always acting out, always pretending, always putting on little plays in the backyard,” Arnaz told the Television Academy Foundation. She left her hometown of Jamestown, New York to go to the city to take acting lessons. When she got there, her teachers told her she was so bad that “her mother was wasting her money.”

So she went back home for a few years where she never stopped acting (she did “plays here and there” upon returning to Jamestown).

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After a few years of that, Ball’s mother encouraged her to go back to New York City to pursue her dreams.

“Eventually, her mother said, ‘Oh, go on. Go. You know you want to be back in New York.’ She helped her, she paid her way, and she became a model in New York,” said Arnaz.

Shorty after Ball became a model, she got her big break.

Why Lucille Ball ‘turned to play-acting’ after a difficult childhood

But why was Ball so drawn to acting from the time she was a young girl? Arnaz thinks it has something to do with her “rough” childhood.

Lucy Ricardo is the ultimate silly character.

“Lucy Ricardo really isn’t like any living person,” said Arnaz. “Come on, you know, she is that little part of all of us that is the troublemaker and, you know, the sprite, the handful, but I don’t think there’s really anybody who was exactly like that character,” she said.

In real life, Aranz says her mother was “very serious, really, sometimes to a fault serious.” Even so, she was undoubtedly drawn to playing larger-than-life characters, like Lucy.

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“She went through a lot of pain as a kid. There was a lot of death in her family when she was young. Her father died when she was four, her grandmother and her aunt lived in the same house with her, both died while she was there. [Her] mother had to go off to work… there was a lot going on,” said Arnaz.

Ultimately, she feels her mother “turned to play-acting as a relief, I would guess.”

“She wanted to make other people laugh and it was her opportunity to be a kid because I don’t think she ever got a chance to really be a child,” said Ball’s daughter.