I Love Lucy: Real Marriage of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball That 'I Love Lucy' Got Wrong
16 Things About the Real Marriage of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball That ‘I Love Lucy’ Got Wrong

16 Things About the Real Marriage of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball That ‘I Love Lucy’ Got Wrong

Trista - March 9, 2019

16 Things About the Real Marriage of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball That ‘I Love Lucy’ Got Wrong
Actress Lucille Ball and husband, Desi Arnaz seated in directors chairs at press conference in Los Angeles, Calif., 1953. Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library/ Wikimedia.

3. Lucy and Desi Never Stopped Loving Each Other

There was no question that Lucy and Desi were passionately in love with each other while they were married. They couldn’t stand being around each other and couldn’t stop fighting. Even after getting remarried, though, Lucy and Desi never stopped loving each other; those closest to them believed that they never did get over their divorce. Every year on their anniversary, Desi sent Lucy red and white carnations. Lucy frequently watched reruns of the home movies that they had made together and asked mutual friends how he was doing. The two went on to become good friends.

In their old age, Lucy would frequently check in on Desi when he was dying of lung cancer. Lucie recalled one of her parents’ visits while her dad was dying, “She just said the same thing over and over again. It was muffled, but you could clearly make out it was the same thing over and over again. It was, ‘I love you. I love you. Desi, I love you…’ And he said, ‘I love you, too, honey. Good luck with your show.” When Lucy died in 1989, three years after Desi, her second husband, Gary, said that she is now happy because she’s with Desi.

16 Things About the Real Marriage of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball That ‘I Love Lucy’ Got Wrong
A photo still of Lucille Ball from the 1950s. Flickr/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

2. Lucy Became Best Friends With Desi’s Second Wife

When Desi became engaged to Edith, Lucy felt that the pain of watching him get married to someone would be overwhelming, even after being happily remarried for two years. However, she and Edith got on quite well as friends, making the sting of divorce less painful for both Desi and Lucy. Lucy was able to maintain a friendly relationship with her ex-husband and also enjoy camaraderie with his new wife. Little Lucie said of Edith years later after she died, “She was a joy, an absolute joy. Great laugh. She taught me how to drive; she went bowling with us; she took us to the fair. She knew exactly how to handle my dad. She was amazing… I really miss her.”

After marrying Edith, Desi significantly reduced the amount of time that he spent in show business. Edith was able to do some acting, thanks to her husband’s influence, but she never became a household name like Lucy. Despite being in a less tumultuous marriage and relinquishing many of the stresses of his professional life, Desi never gave up drinking and gambling. Still, they were able to enjoy cordial relationships with each other, and Lucy and Desi spent time together with their grandson, Simon.

16 Things About the Real Marriage of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball That ‘I Love Lucy’ Got Wrong
Lucille Ball at her last public appearance at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989, four weeks before her death. Ball’s second husband Gary Morton can be seen on the left side of the photograph. Alan Light / Wikimedia.

1. The Marriage Didn’t Last, But the Show Did

Lucy wanted to produce the show as a last attempt to save a marriage that was already crumbling if nothing else by preventing her husband from traveling around and “catting around.” The marriage ended shortly after the show stopped filming, but in the years since, I Love Lucy has remained a classic piece of pure Americana. It became the longest continually-running show in 2007 when it had aired for a solid 50 years after the end of its production. On what would have been Lucy’s 100th birthday, Google commemorated her with some of her most iconic scenes. And by the time Lucy died in 1989, she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

The reality is that the stardom that both Lucy and Desi enjoyed together was not at all reflective of their personal lives. On-screen, they were an idyllic couple living a seemingly perfect life together in their Manhattan apartment. Off-screen, their lives were anything but ideal. Both of their lives were fraught with challenges, many of which they were able to overcome, just not together. Nonetheless, without the tumultuous marriage that ultimately ended in divorce, America (and the rest of the world) would never have loved Lucy.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“40 Fascinating Facts about Comedy’s Sweetheart, Lucille Ball”, Sarah January, History Collection, September 25, 2019″

“The Complicated And Dark History Of Lucille Ball And Desi Arnaz’s Marriage,” by Erin McCann. Ranker.

“CBS Loved Lucy.” The Pop History Dig.

“Loving and Fighting Furiously: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.” Love Letters to Old Hollywood. April 22, 2016.

“Lucille Ball.” Internet Movie Database.

“‘They were fighting all the time’: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s daughter reveals how comedy’s golden couple suffered through a ‘horrible divorce’ while her father battled alcoholism,” by Anneta Konstantinides. Daily Mail. August 7, 2018.