Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were the Hollywood “it” couple for decades, but Ball had another leading man in her life. After 20 years of marriage, the iconic pair called it quits in 1960.
However, Ball would find love again just one year later when she met Gary Morton. For nearly 20 years, Morton and Ball were married until his better half passed away in 1989.
Born Morton Goldapper in 1917, he got his comedic start when he would entertain troops during WWII while serving in the Army Special Services. After returning from the war, he continued his pursuit into comedy and performed at the high-end summer camp, Borscht Belt, in upstate New York. In 1961, Morton worked his way up the comedic ranks and began doing stand-up at night-clubs.
At the time, Morton was friends with fellow-comic Jack Carter. Carter’s wife, Paula Wayne, was working with Lucille Ball on a musical. Ball had recently divorced Arnaz and had ended her run on “I Love Lucy” and decided to use her talents on the Broadway stage. Carter and his wife thought the two comedians would hit it off, so they set them up on a blind date.
“I put it off two or three times,” said Ball later, “I was too tired. Finally one night I was hungry and said `Well, I’ll go for something to eat’ and I met Gary. We had fun, and started seeing each other after the theatre. I found out that he was uncomplicated, good, sweet, hip, funny, and he appreciated a home, not just the trappings.”
Lucille Ball on Second Husband: ‘A Really Understanding Guy’
The two got married in November of 1961. “I didn’t want to get married again,” stated Ball. “I didn’t think I would find a mature, adult person like Gary, a really understanding guy who is wonderful to be around and uncomplicated. He has none of the worrisome characteristics I had lived with. I learned from experience. I wasn’t going to walk into the same trap.”
In addition to working as a comedian, he also landed various parts in movies. He starred in the 1974 film Lenny and The Edge in 1990.
He was also the executive producer of All The Right Moves, starring Tom Cruise. After Ball’s passed away in 1989, Morton retired and married Susie McAllister in 1996. Morton passed away in his Palm Springs home on Mar. 30, 1999.