Here's What Lucille Ball Did Right After I Love Lucy Ended

The final episode of "I Love Lucy" aired Monday at 9 p.m. on May 6, 1957, according to the Lucy Desi Museum. Episode 27, "The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue," depicted another madcap adventure, in which "Lucy" destroys a Revolutionary War soldier's memorial. "She passes herself off as a stone sculpture for the unveiling until a dog — one of the many animals that loved Lucy — licks her face," wrote Kathleen Brady in her book, "Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball," according to Showbiz CheatSheet. When the show was filmed on April 4, the "I Love Lucy" cast may have not known it was the finale, according to the publication. The segment did not include a wrap-up or goodbyes.

Why did the show end? It wasn't due to the ratings, reported Distractify, since "I Love Lucy" claimed the top ranking that year. Instead, one factor may have been the cause of the show's demise: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's marriage started failing. On set, the couple constantly fought, intensifying the tension and shattering their on-screen chemistry. The exhausted couple also began resenting the intensive rehearsal schedule, and wanted more availability for other projects. 

Arnaz came up with another concept for a show that proved profitable and less overwhelming, "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour." The periodic hour-long special featured the original show's familiar characters — Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred — but also added celebrity guest stars, such as Milton Burle, Betty Grable, and Red Skeleton, said TV Series Finale. It ran for three seasons, with 13 episodes, ending the year of the couple's divorce.

Lucy without Ricky

After her divorce from Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball floundered for a while. Biographers offer stories of how she stayed with friends and cried on their couch, according to The New York Times. That is, until Ball saw Vivien Leigh on the Broadway stage. "What I do is so meaningless, so unimportant," the media platform quoted Ball. "Look what she can do." Ball thought she found the perfect vehicle in "Wildcat," a play by N. Richard Nash that told the story of a woman with hopes of becoming rich in an oil town. After several revisions, the drama became a musical with a score by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh. Ball lacked the dancing and singing chops, though; she sometimes held her hand to the audience and restarted a scene when she forgot a line or lyric.

The show seemed cursed from the beginning: A blizzard trapped the truck containing its costumes and sets on the New Jersey turnpike, forcing opening night to be rescheduled, reported Playbill. Ball, pushed to her physical limits by the part, became sick and skipped shows to recover, then passed out on stage when she returned. After tepid reviews, and 171 performances, "Wildcat" closed on June 3, 1961.

The comedian continued her work in entertainment, selling Desilu Productions for $17 million, and staring in two TV sitcoms that showcased her talents, "The Lucy Show," in 1962, and "Here's Lucy," in 1968, said The Outsider. She died on April 26, 1989, at the age of 77.