"I agree that Lucy exaggerated the 'badness' of her voice when she was playing Lucy Ricardo. She's quite listenable on the Wildcat cast album--if still far from dulcet! : )"
I think maybe she would have sounded better at the time of WILDCAT if her voice hadn't already been affected by decades of smoking. Also, since she wasn't a trained Broadway-type singer, I'm assuming she never learned to properly use what voice she had, and by the time of the recording sessions of WILDCAT, her voice might have been adversely affected by all the singing she had done in rehearsals and in even the probably few performances that took place before the sessions. (I don't know if that show played out of town pre-Broadway.) When you have an untrained singer go from rarely singing at all, only occasionally on television, to a Broadway schedule, I think chances are very high that problems will arise.