12. Desi was Also an Alcoholic
At the age of 67, Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Desi and Lucy, gave an interview in which she spoke candidly about the extent of her father’s womanizing and alcoholism, and the toll that it took on their family life. In fact, in 1944, Lucy filed for divorce due to Desi’s drinking and many affairs. Desi never acknowledged the problems that his behavior was causing. Bob Weiskopf, one of the writers for I Love Lucy, said, “Basically, Desi’s attitude was, âWhat the hell’s the matter? I love her. When I go out with women, they’re usually hookers. Those don’t count.'”
Sadly, Desi’s alcoholism caused great stress for Lucy and their children, Desi Jr. and Lucie. Actor Keith Thibodeaux, who played Little Ricky on the show, spoke about a time when he visited Desi Jr. at the family’s home. He said, “We heard a lot of loud arguing and cursing and glass shattering and screaming, and we were scared. Desi Jr. turned to me and said âThere they go again.’ I was about nine, ten years old.” However, ultimately Desi’s womanizing would be his downfall. Rumors leaked to the magazine Confidential, and Lucy read a copy of it during show rehearsals. She tossed the magazine aside and said, “Oh hell, I could tell them worse than that.”
When drunk, Desi often called sex workers. Associated Press writer Jim Bacon said, “He wouldn’t call in one [pro], he’d call in 18. One night when I was with him in Palm Springs, he didn’t do anything but sit on the floor naked and sing ‘Babaloo’ with all these [women] around.” He was even arrested for drunkenly singing to people on Hollywood Boulevard. And according to scriptwriter Bob Weiskopf, after long days of rehearsals, Desi would ask if anyone wanted to go out for a drink. He wasn’t concerned about getting a bite to eat, just about enjoying a cocktail. However, despite his behavior off-screen, Desi remained professional when he was on the set.