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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.
“A wonderful and poignant book. . . . [Kanfer] gives a superb picture of how [Lucille Ball] changed television.” –David Thompson, The New Republic
“Elegant, entertaining . . . engaging and immensely readable.” –The Boston Globe
“Oh what a love story. . . . Kanfer does an excellent job of explaining why Lucy and Ricky Ricardo still reign as cultural icons today.” –USA Today
“A delightful. . . . Encyclopedia Lucytania, guiding us through every possible detail of the woman’s history and legacy.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Sprightly, affectionate . . . lushly detailed. . . . With a sharp sense of pace, and a storyteller’s sense of character and drama [Kanfer] weaves a history not just about one brilliantly talented woman, but also about the remarkable and strangely enduring love affair between Lucy and Desi Arnaz, and especially about the raw and unformed medium of television that the two of them did so much to shape and create.” –Wall Street Journal
“Liberally sprinkled with interesting tidbits. . . . 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. . . . We’re projected back into the star’s personal world, and it’s as human as our own.” –People
“An informative and interpretive biography. . . . The details recounted here are fascinating.” –Chicago Sun-Times
“A crisp writing style, an abundance of anecdotes . . . [and] fresh insights. . . . A sympathetic but clear-eyed [portrait].” –Atlanta Journal Constitution
“Captivating. . . . The final third of the book is pure Hollywood tragedy.” –Los Angeles Magazine
“Ball of Fire is a memorable portrait of its subject in all her gifted weirdness.” –Washington Post Book World
“While paying close mind to the details of an astonishing career, Kanfer also illuminates the inner turmoil. . . . [He] gently conveys how great [Lucy] was and how small she could be.” –New York Daily News
“Ball of Fire does convey a vivid sense of [Lucy's] fearlessness. Stefan Kanfer has the whole heroic story.” –New York Times Book Review