BW – EP100: The Radio Career of Lucille Ball (1938 – 1952)

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In Breaking Walls episode 100 we focus on the radio career of Lucille Ball, arguably the most famous comedienne of the twentieth century.

She rose through the ranks in New York as a model before a small role in Eddie Cantor’s Roman Scandals brought her to Hollywood in 1933 where she gained prominence.

When the 1940s began, Ball was a b-film actress known for playing the other woman. As she gained critical respect for both her dramatic and comedic ability, she insisted that her and Desi Arnaz made a perfect on-screen duo. It led to a revolution in the way TV was shot and produced in the 1950s, all under their company Desilu.

• Jack Haley, Phil Baker, and RKO
• Lucy Meets Gale Gordon
• How a Holiday Publicity Trip to New York changed Lucy’s Life
• Lucy meets Desi
• Too Many Girls
• Lucy and Desi Elope in November 1940
• Harold Lloyd’s A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob and The Old Gold Comedy Theater
• The Tragic Death of Carole Lombard and Lucy’s First Miscarriage
• Lucy Stars on Suspense
• Desi Strays and Lucy Files for Divorce
• The Couple Reconciles and Decides To Work in Radio
• Desi and Bob Hope
• CBS, My Sister Eileen, and My Friend Irma
• Lucy Guests with Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope
• Eve Arden and Our Miss Brooks
• Lucy Says “Yes” to Bill Paley and My Favorite Husband is Born
• Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll Jr., and Madelyn Pugh Join The Team
• Lucy Wants to Work With Desi
• I Love Lucy is Developed and Philip Morris Signs On
• The I Love Lucy Radio Pilot
• Changing History and Looking Ahead

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The reading material used in today’s episode was:
• The I Love Lucy Book – By Bart Andrews
• Love Lucy – By Lucille Ball
• On the Air – By John Dunning
• Desilu – By Coyne Stevens Sanders and Tom Gilbert
• The Complete History of the Most Popular TV Show Ever – By Michael McClay
• Forever Lucy – By Joe Morella
• Network Radio Ratings, 1932-53 — by Jim Ramsburg

As well as several articles from:
Broadcasting Magazine and Radio Daily, from between 1938 and 1951

On the interview front:
• Lucille Ball was interviewed by Dick Cavett in 1970 and 1971; by Johnny Carson in 1974; and by Joan Rivers in 1984

• Desi Arnaz was interviewed with Bob Hope by Johnny Carson in 1976 and by David Letterman in 1983

• Jess Oppenheimer was interviewed in 1961. This interview came courtesy of Gregg Oppenheimer and I Love Lucy: The Untold Story. Gregg also provided My Favorite Husband outtakes.

• Chuck Schaden spoke to Gale Gordon, Jack Haley, and Herb Vigran. Hear their full chats at

• SPERDVAC was with Madeline Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll Jr. on March 12th, 1994

• Hans Conried was with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC’s The Golden Age of Radio. These interviews can be heard at

• William Paley gave a speech while receiving an award on November 20th, 1958, and spoke in memoriam of Lucille Ball in 1989.

• Lee Philip was with Connee Boswell.


Selected Music featured in today’s episode was:
• Black Coffee and Fly Me To The Moon – By Julie London
• The Look of Love – By Billy May
• Cuban Pete – By Desi Arnaz
Special thanks to our sponsors!

The Fireside Mystery Theatre

Radio Drama Revival

Twelve Chimes, It’s Midnight
A special thank you to Ted Davenport and Jerry Haendiges: two radio show collectors who helped supply material for this episode. They’re who the large retailers go to.

Ted’s got a Facebook group –
For Jerry, please visit

I’d also like to thank Walden Hughes and John and Larry Gassman of SPERDVAC –

A Special Thank you to:
Tony Adams
Ryan Kramer
Barry Nadler
Christian Neuhaus
Aimee Pavy
Terry Wallace


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