Even though Lucille Ball was married twice, there was only one man who truly had her heart. Her good friend Tom Watson exclusively tells Closer Weekly that Lucy had it right the first time around when she decided to tie the knot with Desi Arnaz.
“I was around her and I know, I know,” Tom explained about Lucy’s affection for Desi. “They were the best thing for each other and the worst thing for each other. They could push all of the wrong buttons and all the right ones. It’s just, they were better off apart at the end.”
After spending 20 years together and welcoming two kids, Lucie Arnaz, 67, and Desi Arnaz Jr., 66, the Hollywood couple decided to get a divorce in 1960. “For whatever reason, the first marriage didn’t work out,” Tom said. “[But] she didn’t throw him away. They became good friends because they had kids in common.”
After they went their separate ways, Lucy ending up marrying her second husband, Gary Morton, in 1961 and Desi got married to Edith Mack Hirsch in 1963. Even though their romantic relationship was over, Lucy and Desi still made it work for their kids.
“That to me, is a real lesson in life. Because a lot of times, when people get divorced or break up, they don’t ever want to see that person again, and they fight for years. They sort of forget that they once meant the world to each other,” Tom explained. “I can’t say that the day after the divorce they were that way. But after a cooling off period that was relatively short, they went on with their lives as friends.”
Lucille ended up passing away at age 77 in 1989 of an acute aortic aneurysm. Her first love, Desi, died three years earlier in 1986 after he was diagnosed with lung cancer that same year. He was 69 years old at the time. Though they never got back together, Tom believes Lucy and Desi were just like “steak and ice cream” — two different meals that you can love at the same time.
“They recognized the fact, okay, this is where we need to be now,” he said about their friendship. “But they never lost their affection for each other, ever.”