Ball of Fire by Stefan Kanfer
The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball

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As a movie actress Lucille Ball was, in her own words, “queen of the B-pluses.” But on the small screen she was a superstar–arguably the funniest and most enduring in the history of TV. In this exemplary biography, Stefan Kanfer explores the roots of Lucy’s genius and places it in the context of her conflicted and sometimes bitter personal life.

Ball of Fire gives us Lucy in all her contradictions. Here is the beauty who became a master of knock-down slapstick; the control freak whose comic alter ego thrived on chaos, the worshipful TV housewife whose real marriage ended in public disaster. Here, too, is an intimate view of the dawn of television and of the America that embraced it. Charming, informative, touching. and laugh-out-loud funny, this is the book Lucy’s fans have been waiting for.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Stefan Kanfer

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Stefan Kanfer's books include Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball; Stardust Lost: The Triumph, Tragedy, and Mishugas of the Yiddish Theater in America; and Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando. He was a writer and editor at Time for more than twenty years and was its first bylined film critic, a post he held between 1967 and 1972. He is also the primary interviewer in the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Line King and editor of an anthology of Groucho Marx's comedy, The Essential Groucho. He is a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library and recipient of numerous writing awards. He lives in New York and on Cape Cod.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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She tore off Vivian Vance’s eyelashes, kicked husband Desi in the groin (several times), and gave Richard Burton line readings, prompting Mrs. Burton to label Miss Ball “Miss Cunt.” Off the set, Desi retaliated with compulsive gambling, constant boozing, and serial adultery, often with prostitutes.

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The New York Times

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The question of why Ball was so much more effective as ''a 16-inch TV image'' should, I think, have generated at least a bit of reflection on the peculiar nature of early television comedy, an amazing number of whose stars were performers who, like Ball, worked in an extremely broad style: Skelto...

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Entertainment Weekly

The latest of many biographies of Lucy can't help but cover some well-trod ground: the star's small-town childhood, the marriage to boozing womanizer Desi Arnaz, the rewriting of TV-sitcom rules with I Love Lucy, the building of the Desilu empire, the long sad fade.

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Instead, what makes Ball of Fire an unexpected pleasure—and a rarity among Hollywood biographies—is Kanfer's almost novelistic appreciation of how Ball evolved emotionally through her 77 years.

Aug 25 2003 | Read Full Review of Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous ...


Kanfer, onetime film critic at Time and author of "Groucho," dutifully covers familiar, hard-bitten ground: Ball's difficult childhood in Jamestown, N.Y.;

Sep 21 2003 | Read Full Review of Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous ...

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