It turns out that the reason I Love Lucy wasn’t called I Love Lucille was because of some jealousy from Desi Arnaz.
As all classic TV fans know, the iconic series was named after the star actress, Lucille Ball. Prior to getting her own namesake show, which was common for the time (think, The Andy Griffith Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show), she had become a celebrity while using her full name.
So when her series hit the airwaves in 1951, some fans were confused as to why she started using the shorter nickname. Apparently, the change-up was all her husband’s idea.
As Arnaz admitted in his 1994 memoir titled A Book, he didn’t like calling his wife “Lucille” because he knew that her past lovers had uttered it too many times. So in his personal relationship with her, he used “Lucy.” Then when the couple was hashing out the details of their television series, he insisted the title followed suit.
“I had started calling her Lucy shortly after we met,” he penned. “I didn’t like the name, Lucille. That name had been used by other men. ‘Lucy’ was mine alone. That’s how eventually our television show was called I Love Lucy, not I Love Lucille.”
Friends and Family Believe the ‘I Love Lucy’ Stars Never Fell Out of Love
The couple, of course, famously divorced in 1960. According to Amy Poehler’s documentary, Lucy and Desi, Arnaz was a heavy drinker and was also prone to womanizing. The two tried working through their issues. But eventually, Ball gave up on the relationship altogether. Though it was widely known that even when they split, they still loved each other.
In fact, Ball and Arnaz created I Love Lucy with the hopes of saving their marriage.
“They did the show so they could be together because my dad was always on the road and they never saw each other,” the couple’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, told PEOPLE. “So my parents thought, ‘Well, this is going to save our marriage, and we can have a family.’ They gave the country this wonderful creation, but they never got what they wanted — to stay together,” she says. “… [But] they loved each other until the end.”
Lucile Ball went on to marry Gary Morton in 1961, and they remained together until the actress died in 1989. And Desi Arnaz wed Edith Hirsch in 1963 and stayed with her until she passed 22 years later.
However, those who were close to the stars believe they never actually moved on.
“Maybe I’m the romantic,” I Love Lucy director William Asher shared. “But there was a great, great love there, there really was. Desi was very unhappy about the breakup, and I think she was too. I don’t think either one of them ever got over it.”