The world of comedic acting was long dominated by male actors. However as the twentieth century progressed, exceptional female actresses began to break into comedic roles. Two women that significantly expanded the roles of women in comedy are Fanny Brice and Lucille Ball.
Fanny Brice (1891-1951) is one of the most outstanding early female comedians. Brice first achieved fame as a vaudeville actress, and then worked with the well known Ziegfeld Follies theatrical shows group. Brice’s most well known character is “Baby Snooks,” a self created character that was sneaky and cunning. In addition to her comedic career, Fanny Brice is also well known for the Broadway musical, Funny Girls, which was based on her life story. Because of her contributions to comedic acting, Fanny Brice remains an iconic female comedian to this day.
The Postal Service issued a Fanny Brice stamp in Hollywood, California. The stamp was designed by Al Hirschfeld who also did the art work on the stamp. Hirschfeld illustrated Brice as her iconic character Baby Snooks. The stamp is part of the Comedian Commemorative Issue, and Brice is the only woman honored in the issue.
Perhaps the most loved female comedian of the twentieth century is Lucille Ball (1911-1989). During the 1950’s Lucille Ball captured the hearts of Americans with her comedy sitcom, I love Lucy that featured her and her husband, Desi Arnaz. Ball also became one of the most powerful women in television when she gained full control of her and Arnaz’s production company, Desilu productions, in the 1960’s. As a result of her immense success in business, television, and film, Lucille Ball is remembered as one of the most influential actresses of the 1950’s.
Lucille Ball had a postage stamp released in her honor as part of the Legends of Hollywood Issue. The stamp was designed by Derry Noyes and was released on Ball’s birthday. The ceremony was held at the Hollywood History Museum.