The strength of I Love Lucy for audiences was the marriage of Lucy and Ricky. Behind the scenes, Lucille Ball and Deis Arnaz’s marriage was what made their partnership so strong. It also boosted their on-screen chemistry. Desi and Lucy were one of the most iconic couples in Hollywood. At the same time, Lucy and Ricky were the most iconic couple on television. Fittingly, their era-defining marriage started on a Hollywood soundstage.
Before the iconic couple behind I Love Lucy met, Lucille Ball starred in several B-movies. At the same time, Desi was a young, successful bandleader. Their paths finally crossed on the set of Dance, Girl, Dance in 1940. Then, the couple appeared together in Lucille Ball’s next film, Too Many Girls. Before long, they were madly in love.
The Unlikely Romance of I Love Lucy‘s Stars
By the time the I Love Lucy stars met, Lucille Ball had a successful career. She also had a string of romances behind her. All of those were with older men. So, when she met Desi Arnaz and quickly fell in love, those close to the stars didn’t think they would last, according to Biography.
While the press at the time made a big deal about their age difference, the gap wasn’t that big. Lucy was only five years Desi’s senior. At the same time, she was drawn to the younger man’s spark. He was good-looking, charismatic, and fiery. Arnaz was like no one Ball had ever been with before. He also supported her in achieving her goals.
In fact, it was Desi Arnaz’s support that led to the couple starring in I Love Lucy.
How Love Led to a Career Revival
Lucille Ball was the “Queen of B-Movies” in the early forties. By the end of the decade, her movie career was dying a slow death. She couldn’t land the types of leading roles that she truly wanted. At this point, Desi suggested that Lucy flex her talent elsewhere. As a result, Ball dipped her toe into the world of broadcasting. It wasn’t long before she landed a role in the radio sitcom My Favorite Husband. That show was the forerunner to I Love Lucy.
It didn’t take long for My Favorite Husband to catch the eyes of the suits at CBS. They approached Lucille Ball, offering her a show recreating her hit radio program for TV. Ball loved the idea but insisted that involve her real-life husband. When the network refused, Lucille Ball walked.
This is when Lucy and Desi put together their live show. They toured around the country and audiences loved their act. After a while, the folks at CBS had a change of heart. They approached the couple with a contract. This time, they would include both Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I Love Lucy was born.