To the public, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were the world’s greatest couple. “I would defy anyone to deny that they were one of the 20th century’s greatest couples,” Carol Channing, a friend of the duo told Closer in the magazine’s newest issue, on newsstands now. “There’s Adam and Eve, Caesar and Cleopatra, Napoleon and Josephine, George and Gracie… and Desi and Lucy.”
But behind closed doors, their marriage — and eventual divorce — was a mess. Lucille and Desi eloped just six months after they met in 1940. After over a decade of marriage, the couple welcomed a daughter, Lucie, in 1951, and a son, Desi, in 1953. They divorced in 1960, 20 years after they tied the knot (Lucie was nine years old and Desi was seven years old at the time).
“They were fighting all the time when we were growing up. There was a lot of anger and screaming,” Lucie, 67, told Closer. “Their divorce was horrible. And then there was the alcoholism. I had preferred those things had never been there. We didn’t have any abuse, but we did go through some pretty hard stuff and that’s why my parents didn’t stay together.”
However, the divorce was not easy for the I Love Lucy actress despite all the fighting. Lucy once described her darkest moment — and it had to do with her split from Desi. “When I got divorced and disappointed millions of people by doing so,” she once said.
Despite their divorce, however, the two had an unbreakable bond. Lucille remarried to Gary Morton and Desi to Edith Mack Hirsch. “After she died, [Gary] said to me, ‘I guess she’s happy now; she’s with Desi,'” Paula Stewart, a friend of Gary’s revealed. Before his death, Desi once wrote, “I Love Lucy was never just the title [of the show.]” So complicated, but so perfect!
For more on Lucille and Desi, pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and sign up for our newsletter!