Their 20-year marriage endured cheating, miscarriage, fame, and alcohol abuse—and however they were able to remain friends as soon as it to be over.


The year was 1940. A fiery redheaded actress and also a flirtatious Cuban musician uncovered themselves undeniably attracted to each other, and the relationship that arisen gave the American public not only groundbreaking entertainment, however one the the century"s most passionate love stories.

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Lucille Ball, 28, and Desi Arnaz, 23, met if filming the RKO Studios movie Too many Girls (a reality that would concerned be viewed as an irony when Arnaz"s womanizing played out later on on). Desi, who had starred in the Broadway musical the film to be based on, was a bandleader; Lucy was among the film"s stars. The complement was unlikely from the start: She usually dated taller, larger men and also he was already engaged to who else. They fell in love anyway.

With Darryl Harpa, the bandleader that the brand-new York"s Copacabana nightclub, circa 1941.
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From the start, friends speak Lucy doted on Desi, passionate to make him happy. If he want something, she"d get it. If castle sat under together and also he needed much more space, she"d scoot over. "I discovered it surprising since she was such a strong, elevation lady, however when it concerned Desi, she was an extremely old-fashioned," friend and also actress Ruta Lee toldCloser.

After filming wrapped, Lucy took on a promotion tour and Desi went earlier to performing in ~ nightclubs v his band. Throughout this time apart, Lucy got wind the Desi had actually met up v his former lover, Betty Grable. She showed up at the home he common with his divorced mother, berating him and also calling him a "Cuban sonofabitch." looking for a systems to your arguments, Desi argued marriage. In November 1940, six months after ~ they"d very first met, the pair eloped.

Lucy and Desi at the Mocambo nightclub in West Hollywood, July 1942.
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Desi continued to tour and the expanded absences began to take a toy fee on the newlyweds. Even when that wasn"t top top the road, his schedule had him out until 3 or 4 in the morning, while hers demanded she be in the assembly chair by around the exact same time. Lucy"s longtime publicist, Charles Pomerantz, toldPeople, "She provided to say, "We just can"t store meeting in the Sepulveda tunnel." and also her strategy must"ve worked, since she got pregnant right away. She said she ultimately had him whereby she want him…for a pair of days."

Lucy tastes a dish ready by Desi, circa 1945.
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Lucy"s friends have actually said the actress suffered number of miscarriages before the couple conceived your firstborn. They separated for a duration of time in 1944 after ~ Lucy filed because that divorce, allegedly due to the fact that of Desi"s infidelity and also drinking problem. They later on reconciled ~ talking and agreeing come pursue much more projects where their experienced lives would intersect.

The golden opportunity came as soon as CBS decided to revolve the radio program Lucy had actually been certification in right into a TV show. Executives weren"t persuaded when Lucy pitched she real-life husband to play the on-screen part, too—fearing Desi"s heavy Cuban interval wouldn"t jive through mainstream American viewers—but the Arnazes winner them over by touring the nation as a vaudeville act during the summer of 1951. Audiences loved it, and Lucy finally had her possibility to keep Desi in one place.

On set, circa 1950.
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"She knew the if that went on the road with the band, he"d be catting roughly all the time. She want him in ~ home, where she felt the marriage would have a far better chance of lasting, i m sorry of course it did," said Bob Weiskopf, who was among Lucy and also Desi"s go-to writers ago in the day.

In ready for the show, the pair created Desilu, the first-ever independent television production company. Ever the savvy entrepreneur, Desi encouraged CBS to develop the present on film—an unconventional move for a time when reruns were unheard of—and haggled for ownership of every episodes, presumably come share through the couple"s future children. He later sold them ago to CBS for millions. All told, Desilu"s profits reached $5 million through 1961.

Desi and an expectant Lucy outside of their house in 1953.
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The start of their hit show synchronized with a new chapter in the couple"s an individual lives, too. They became parents to tiny Lucie on July 17, 1951, 3 months before the show"s premiere. Lucy"s friends would later on say the the actress thought having a baby would certainly strengthen the couple"s bond. That did, for a tiny while. "Some of Desi"s womanizing was alleviated native the moment small Lucie to be born," stated biographer Bart Andrews, who"s authored three books on the couple.

I Love Lucy debuted in October 1951. It wasn"t long prior to 40 million viewers to be tuning in each week to view what the Ricardos were up to. In 1953, when Lucy ended up being pregnant through the couple"s 2nd child, Desi Jr., the show ended up being the very first in background to depict a pregnant woman.

With little Lucie and Desi Jr
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Director wilhelm Asher recalled see a certain tenderness native Desi throughout those episodes. "When lock were having the baby and also we walk the show about the bear of tiny Ricky, Desi was terribly emotional about her," Asher told People in 1991. "He really was crazy about her. You can feel just how they felt."

The success the the show, however, came v a price. Together Desi would later on reveal in his memoir, the pressures of running a production company, coupled with the insecurities the what his daughter would certainly later speak to being "Mr. Ball," thrust him towards alcohol. After two decades of marriage, Lucy can no much longer tolerate Desi"s drinking habit and infidelities, which had never fully subsided. She divorced him in 1960.

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Yet also after the marriage and also show ended, and also they each married other people, Lucy and also Desi stayed close. Friends claimed neither one ever before got over your breakup. "They spoke so lovingly of every other, you almost forgot they weren"t together anymore," said Lucy"s great friend, theater actress Carol Channing.

Before his fatality in 1986, Desi"s last words come Lucy were, "I love friend too, honey. Good luck v your show."