Ball received thirteen Emmy Award nominations and four wins. She was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986 and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989.
In 1929, Ball landed work as a model and later began her performing career on Broadway using the stage name "Diane Belmont". She appeared in many small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures. Ball was labeled as the "Queen of the Bs" (referring to her many roles in B-films). In 1951, Ball was pivotal in the creation of the television series I Love Lucy. The show co-starred her then husband, Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel and Fred Mertz, the Ricardos' loveable landlords. After the show ended in 1960, Ball went on to star in two more successful television series: The Lucy Show, which ran on CBS from 1962 to 1968, and Here's Lucy from 1968 to 1974. Her last attempt at a television series was a 1986 show called Life With Lucy. The show proved to be a critical and commercial flop which was canceled less than two months into its run by ABC.
Ball met and eloped with Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz in 1940. On July 17, 1951, Ball gave birth to their first child, Lucie Desiree Arnaz. A year and a half later, Ball gave birth to their second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, known as Desi Arnaz, Jr. Ball and Arnaz divorced on May 4, 1960. On April 26, 1989, Ball died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm at age seventy-seven. At the time of her death, she had been married to her second husband, standup comedian and business partner Gary Morton, for twenty-eight years.
In 1953, Ball was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities because she had registered to vote in the Communist party primary election in 1936 at her socialist grandfather's insistence (per FBI FOIA-released documents in a declassified FBI file). Immediately before the filming of episode 68 ("The Girls Go Into Business") of I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz, instead of his usual audience warm-up, told the audience about Lucy and her grandfather. Arnaz quipped: "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that's not legitimate." Then, he presented his wife and she received a standing ovation from the audience. Documents were discovered that showed Ball had in fact registered to the Communist Party.
One time in a interview that the strangest thing to ever happen to her was after she had some dental work completed and after placing lead fillings in her teeth, she started hearing radio stations in her head. She explained coming home one night from the studio and as she passed one area, she heard what she thought was morse code or a "tapping." She stated that "As I backed up it got stronger. The next morning, I reported it to the authorities and upon investigation, they found a Japanese radio transmitter that had been buried and was actively transmitting codes back to the Japanese."