The love story between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz — and their journey together in creating the legendary Classic TV sitcom I Love Lucy — should have been the thing that Hollywood fairy tales are made of, but it wasn’t. They married in 1940 and were together as husband and wife for 20 years, until those oft-talked about irreconcilable differences tore them apart. Yet, as their daughter Lucie Arnaz explains in an exclusive interview, “The best thing that ever happened to them was getting divorced.”
And those words leave her mouth, it becomes obvious that she means every one of them; that this isn’t some sort of attempt to shield their legacy or protect the family name. “They had a great divorce,” Lucie, 67, laughs. “They had a very successful divorce. It was fantastic. If their parents can’t get along and that happens, then kids should be so lucky to have a divorce like my mom and my dad did, because they were kind, they never said bad words about each other in front of their children and they stayed friends til the day they died. It was a fantastic romance that even got more passionate and more friendly after they were not married to each other anymore, so there.”
The duo married the same year they’d met on the set of Too Many Girls and from the start things weren’t smooth, to the point where Lucy came close to filing for divorce in 1944, but they reconciled. In 1951 they launched I Love Lucy, giving birth to Lucie the same year (their son, Desi Arnaz Jr., would be born a year and a half later). The series, which genuinely changed the nature of filming sitcoms, ran until 1957 and was followed by 13 one-hour episodes of The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show (later known as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour) that aired between 1957 and 1960. Once the show was over, they immediately divorced, with Lucy marrying comedian Gary Morton the following year, in 1961, and Desi marrying Edith Eyre Hirsch two years after that, in 1963. As noted, Lucy and Desi remained close for the rest of their lives, Desi commenting in a memoir, “I Love Lucy was never just a title.”
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