Final resting place: Ball reinterred in Jamestown in 2003 after nearly 15 years in California

Public domain photo A photo of Lucille Ball from the 1950s.

Lucille Ball died on April 26, 1989 due to complications from a heart surgery.

I knew the “I Love Lucy” megastar was born in Celeron and buried in Lakewood.

What I didn’t know was that there was some controversy to bring that burial about.

According to an article in the New York Times, Ball died in Los Angeles due to a ruptured aorta a week after undergoing that heart surgery.

“The elastic-faced, husky-voiced comedian was a national institution from 1951 to 1974 in three series and many specials on television that centered on her ‘Lucy’ character,” the Times reported in the wake of her death. “The first series, ‘I Love Lucy,’ was for six years the most successful comedy series on television, never ranking lower than third.”

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Lucille Ball was cremated upon her death in 1989. She was re-interred in Jamestown about 15 years later at the Lake View Cemetery.

These bits from that story I found interesting but aren’t really germane to this story.

“It was a major national event when, on Jan. 19, 1953, Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky on the air the same night Lucille Ball gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha 4th. The audience for the episode was estimated at 44 million, a record at the time, and CBS said 1 million viewers responded with congratulatory telephone calls, telegrams, letters or gifts. Miss Ball’s first child, Lucie Desiree Arnaz, was born July 17, 1951, three months before the show went on the air.”

“She embarked on a show-business career at 15 by going to Manhattan and enrolling in John Murray Anderson’s dramatic school. From the first, she was repeatedly told she had no talent and should return home. She tried and failed to get into four Broadway chorus lines.”

“‘I Love Lucy” was one of the first shows to be filmed rather than performed live, making it possible to have a high-quality print of each episode for rebroadcast, compared with the poor quality of live-show kinescopes. The change eventually led to a shift of television production from New York to Hollywood. The show was the first to be filmed before an audience, and crew members used three cameras at once to permit motion-picture-type editing. The series won more than 200 awards, including five Emmys.”

But, I digress….

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Those looking to find Ball’s grave need to look no further than the red hearts on the road that lead to the location.

United Press International reported that Ball’s ashes were moved to Jamestown from California in 2003, over 20 years after her death.

“At the request of her children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr., the comedienne’s urn was disinterred from a grave beside her mother, Desiree Eveline Hunt-Ball, in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles and moved to Jamestown, N.Y.,” that story explains.

“I know she’s happier there, because she loved the seasons,” Lucie Arnaz told friends at the Little Babyface Foundation benefit….”

The Buffalo News also reported on the move, stating that it was “the late Lucille Ball’s wish that both she and her mother be buried together….”

“Ironically, Lucille Ball was to return to Jamestown for the first time in several years in 1989 to receive an honorary degree from Jamestown Community College,” the Buffalo News reported. “However, she died on April 26 — just a few weeks before the scheduled event.

“Lucie Arnaz added that their father, Desi Arnaz Sr., who died Dec. 2, 1986, was cremated and his remains scattered at sea in front of his home in Baja, Calif. A plaque lies at the base of the local church there.”

Those stories indicated a certain degree of agreement among the family to make the move to the Lake View Cemetery just off I-86 in Jamestown.

The New York Post reported before that move was made in 2002 that several of Ball’s co-workers on “I Love Lucy” took objection to the move.

One “I Love Lucy” writer said Ball would “be a little alarmed…. She didn’t like a big fuss made over her. If you complimented Lucy she’d say ‘Oh come on.’ She was a very down-to-earth person and she might wonder what all the fuss is about.”

Another writer told the Post that “I don’t think she’d approve of the idea of being moved.”

Also from the Post: “The most important thing to Lucille Ball, was to be buried with her mother, and so I guess that would still be achieved,” said Kathleen Brady, author of “Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball.”

The Forest Hills mausoleum was originally selected by Dee Dee as her final resting place. Ball left instructions that when she died, she wanted to be placed near her mother, Brady said.

“Where she is now in Forest Lawn cemetery is rather grim and cold,” Brady said “It is entirely probable – especially since the family is involved – that a place in Jamestown would be more appropriate in terms of our sense of Lucy.”


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