Thanks to the endless reruns of “I Love Lucy” available at any given moment, Lucille Ball is one of the great Hollywood actors that is frozen in time in our memories. Hearing her name transports us all to a black-and-white vision of the animated comedienne with the big eyes and an even bigger laugh, which is why Barbara Walters’ 1977 interview with Ball and her husband Gary Morton is such a strong interview. Walters prodded a bit in trying to get Ball to talk about her breakup with Desi Arnaz, but Ball was unafraid to push back on the famed interviewer. She was frank as hell about her previous marriage, telling Walters, “I married a loser. He could win, win, high stakes. He worked very hard, but he had to lose. Everything he built, he had to break down. He still claims he’s the same way.”
The Lucille Ball interview marks a very important time in Barbara Walters’ career, as this is the same year she landed a joint interview with Egypt’s president, Anwar Al Sadat, and Israel’s Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, which arguably solidified Walters as one of the greatest living journalists. As intimidating as a political figure might be, talking to a living legend like Lucille Ball is arguably even more stressful. When the interview was replayed years later as part of the “Interviews of a Lifetime” collection, Walters admitted, “when I interviewed Lucille Ball, I was nervous.” Considering Walters’ legacy as a ferocious interviewer, seeing her work through nerves is a fascinating watch.