On screen, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball had a perfectly imperfect marriage that matched the red-haired comedienne’s zany antics and made her a Hollywood legend. The show was so successful that it actually helped popularize television in the 1950s, and 60 years later, people continue to laugh at the slapstick humor and vaudevillian-style comedy that characterized the show. In real life, though, Lucy and Desi’s relationship was anything but blissful until after they divorced in 1960.
16. Lucy and Desi Fell in Love at First Sight
Desi Arnaz was a Cuban bandleader who starred in the 1940 musical Too Many Girls. Lucille Ball was an up-and-coming actress who, for many years, displayed no discernible talent but was willing to take a pie in the face. She was filming a movie at the MGM studios, playing a role that required her to wear a gold lame gown that was considered revealing, along with messy hair and a black eye. While taking a break in the studio commissary, the 28-year-old Lucy saw the 23-year-old Cuban actor, whom she would act alongside in the musical. Unimpressed, she referred to him merely as “that Cuban.”
However, when the two actually met, everything changed. One of Lucy’s co-stars said, “Lucille followed my eyes, and I could almost hear the bells ringing in her head. The first words Lucille uttered when seeing Desi for the first time were, ‘Oh, my God.’ It was love at first sight for her.” The feelings were mutual. The couple eloped a mere six months after meeting and believed that they were entering the life of bliss that they had always dreamed of. Desi was a musician and actor with talent to spare, and Lucy had starred in a slew of forgettable films. Together, they would make silver-screen history in a show that many would believe reflected the ideal marriage.