Lucille Ball’s cause of death was a ruptured overt aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the body. The beloved I Love Lucy actress was 77 at the time, and her mysterious passing stunned fans and loved ones who believed she lived a healthy and happy life.
Now, 30 years after her death, REELZ’s new docuseries, Autopsy: Lucille Ball, is revealing new details about her secret addictions and mysterious health decline.
“So far, I’ve discovered something that had a major impact on her heart: alcohol,” says Dr. Michael Hunter on the show.
“Lucy liked her vices,” says Lee Tannen, Ball’s close friend. “We would make her a slushy, which sounded like it didn’t have booze, but it did have triple sec and tequila It was really a frozen margarita.”
Alcohol can increase blood pressure, which can, in turn, cause heart problems.
“It’s clear from her death certificate that Lucille did have high blood pressure,” says Hunter. “Could years of abuse have damaged her heart?”
Thinking of Ball’s tendency to remain in control, psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos says she does not believe booze was a problem for the actress.
“I think the appeal of alcohol wouldn’t have been there. This isn’t something appealing because it’s about losing control, it’s about letting go. I think it speaks to her need to ensure that she’s in the driver’s seat when it comes, not just to her career, but to her life as well,” says Papadopoulos.
“If alcohol was not a major part of Lucille’s life, there must’ve been another reason for the hypertension, or high blood pressure mentioned in her death certificate. I can see something else from personal reports that seems bizarre: was Lucille also inhaling a substance often associated with sex?” says Hunter.
Autopsy: Lucille Ball airs Sunday, March 10 at 8 ET / PT on REELZ.