Bella Donna: Lucille Ball


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"Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead." So said this week's Bella Donna, the hilarious and lovely Lucille Ball. The star and co-producer of the long-running show I Love Lucy, she was also the first woman to head her own television production company, Desilu. She would have turned 96 this past Monday.

Oddly enough, while most people associate Lucille Ball with blazing red hair, she wasn't a natural redhead. A natural brunette, she colored her hair blonde as a starlet in the 1930s and 1940s. To look better in front of the television camera, she dyed it red and often wore a wig on the set. She stayed with that hue from the 1950s onward. (She once joked that she was keeping the economy of Egypt afloat with her annual orders of henna.)

Lucille Ball's look relied on very fair skin, bright red hair and exaggerated, drawn-on eyebrows. It made for an excellent on-screen contrast, but it's a little too dramatic for today. For suggestions on creating a modern interpretation of Lucille's style, and to see a gallery of her look throughout the years (including a rare shot of her as a blonde), read more

  • Lucille Ball was a spokesmodel for Max Factor, preferring Pan-Cake makeup. It's difficult to find, and to be honest, it's too heavy and cakey. Instead, go for a medium-coverage foundation—it's more contemporary.
  • If you're thinking of coloring your hair red, I strongly suggest going to a professional colorist. While red is one of the most beautiful hues, it's one of the easiest to mess up at home (and yes, I learned the hard way). If you're confident with coloring your hair at home, Feria 77 Sunset Blaze will get your hair on the Ball.
  • Lucille also loved classic red nails. As with any bold color, red looks chic on short nails rather than long ones.
  • Lucille's brows were dramatically drawn-on. Update the look by keeping yours thick and well-defined, then filling them in with a brow pencil.
  • Mascara? Yes. Black.
  • During her younger years, Lucille Ball favored matte red lipstick; this may have been because red was one of the most widely available colors! As she entered her later years, she migrated to coral colors. The lighter shades are easier to wear for older women because if lipstick bleeds, it won't look quite as obvious as a smudge of red. So if you're of pre-retirement age, rock the red!
  • Finally, find a quirky yet loveable neighbor and a Cuban band leader and get into all sorts of hijinks. After all, laughter always was he most beautiful thing about Lucille Ball.
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