By Teresa Jue
Updated October 15, 2014 at 05:09 PM EDT
Credit: Getty Images

Audiences best know Lucille Ball as the lovable screwball at the center of I Love Lucy, but few know of the comedian’s life as an aspiring actress before TV fame set in, and her subsequent role as a television studio mogul.

On the anniversary of I Love Lucy’s 1951 debut, Life posted rare photos, never published in Life magazine, of Ball in her days as an aspiring starlet in the 1940’s, along with behind-the-scenes snaps of Ball building the Desilu empire on-screen and off with her then-husband Desi Arnaz.

See the rest of the photos at

I Love Lucy

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