BOOKS: Here's Lucy

A biography of Lucille Ball shows a determined woman

The clown who laughs on the outside but cries on the inside is an image that appeals irresistibly to the biographers of comedians. Time and again, they portray those with a gift for humor as embittered souls behind the greasepaint. Fortunately, Kathleen Brady avoids this cliche in Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball (Hyperion; 397 pages; $24.95). Without ignoring the darker aspect's of Ball's life, Brady, a former Time reporter whose previous biography was of pioneering muckraker Ida Tarbell, portrays a woman of impressive determination and resilience.

Brought up in Jamestown, New York, by a fun-loving mother and a dismissive stepfather,...

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