‘I Love Lucy’: How Lucille Ball’s Daughter Lucie Arnaz Accidentally Found Her Mother’s Memoirs

by Emily Morgan

While Lucie Arnaz was crafting an audiobook based on her mother’s life, she accidentally found something that left her speechless: her mother’s memoirs.  

Arnaz didn’t discover the memoirs until 1993, four years after her mother’s passing. However, they were written decades earlier, in 1964. During an interview in 2018, Arnaz opened up about what it was like to stumble across her mother’s writings.

At the time, Arnaz had produced two audiobooks based on her mother’s life as a Hollywood starlet and businesswoman: Love, Lucy, and A Book. 

“We were looking through files with Mom’s lawyer, and there was this manila envelope with “Lucy” scrawled on the front, postmarked 1964 with a return address for Betty Hannah Hoffman. Inside was Mom’s manuscript. We asked friends and relatives, anyone, who knew Mom during that time if they remembered anything about it. We agreed it sounded like her, but we had no context,” Arnaz recalled.

She continued: “We tracked Betty down. She had been writing a piece about my mother for Ladies Home Journal, and they met several times. It seems they both enjoyed this process so much my mother insisted that Betty do more and more outside interviews with family and other people to get a more rounded perspective, dig deeper. So Betty eventually said something like, “Well, then let’s do a biography!”

According to Arnaz, Ball answered Betty’s questions on tape, which she still treasures to this day. “Betty sent the draft to Mom who read it, marked it up, and one day packed it away. “It’s going to hurt too many people,” she said referring to her father, Desi Arnaz.

Lucie Arnaz Weighs in on Upcoming Lucille Ball Biopic

As to not hurt her father’s legacy, Lucie Arnaz made some slight edits. “When I edited it for publication, I thought about deleting the parts she crossed out, but it really wasn’t offensive in any way. So, I corrected a few things, wrote the forward, and we published it. This year, after Francesca and I recorded Dad’s book, and we were recording Mom’s, we started seeing discrepancies between some of their accounts of the same story.”

As we learn more details about the upcoming biopic based on Ball, it makes us wonder what Arnaz thinks about the project — which sees Nicole Kidman playing the feisty, funny redhead. 

In January, Arnaz posted a video after it was revealed that Kidman would portray Ball in Being the Ricardos. “I felt I should just at least calm the waters here,” Arnaz said in the video. “There seems to be a lot of discussion about Nicole Kidman. It should be Debra Messing. It should be Carole Cook, I don’t know.”

She added, “Here’s the deal. You should understand. We are not doing a remake of ‘I Love Lucy.’ No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo nor do the Vitameatavegamin routine, or the chocolate factory routine or any of the silly things.”

She further clarified that the film would be Lucille Ball’s story, not Lucy Ricardo’s. She added, “There will be humor in the film, but it is a story of the two of them and how they met and what went right with finding the show, what went wrong, their relationship, their love affair.”