Most of Hollywood knew of Desi Arnaz’s alcoholism and infidelity while he starred on I Love Lucy. But a new biography says their marriage was far worse than people realized. It also claims the Lucille Ball had a sordid past of her own, as well.
The book, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz: They Weren’t Lucy & Ricky Ricardo, reiterates their turbulent and hate-filled marriage, according to the Daily Mail. A well-trod topic, but the book also goes much further into how they got to that place.
Arthurs Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince claim the I Love Lucy star went to extreme lengths to make it in Hollywood. That included occasionally prostituting herself, nude modeling, and having producers subject her to the “casting couch” to get roles early on. Ball scrounged for food for a time, as well, the book claims. But she began to find minor success over the years.
By the time she met Arnaz in 1940, she’d already appeared in 50 movies. She was 8 years his senior, but they fell in love working on the set of the movie Dance Girl, Dance.
They quickly realized they had more than a relationship, however. They made a great comedy team. So, they took the act on the road after producers initially passed on doing a show with the couple. The reception to their vaudeville routines was enough to change minds in Hollywood. And in 1950, they starred in I Love Lucy.
They Were Not The Couple In ‘I Love Lucy’
I Love Lucy rocketed the couple to national stardom. But behind the scenes, things were a mess. Vivian Vance and William Frawley — Ethel and Fred Mertz — hated one another. And Luci and Desi constantly fought.
Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz: They Weren’t Lucy & Ricky Ricardo author Porter, then a student body president at the University of Miami, arranged “Lucy & Desi” day at the school in the late 1950s. He claims to have witnessed them fighting over Arnaz sleeping with hookers the night before.
“He didn’t deny that, but claimed, “It doesn’t mean a thing, my fooling around with some hookers. Peccadilloes don’t count,” the book said.
But apparently, Ball also had flings while still married to Arnaz, the book says. ‘Marriage is okay, but adultery is more fun,’ the book quotes Arnaz saying. ‘Just ask Lucy.’
They divorced in 1960, three years after I Love Lucy went off the air.
Both said venomous things about the other after their split. For instance, Ball allegedly called Arnaz a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure.
“He drinks and gambles, he’s awash in broads and booze …,” she said. “‘Love?’ I was always falling in love with the wrong man. Including Desi.”
Arnaz also had heated words for his ex-wife. But he also mused on how everything came apart after I Love Lucy became a success.
“We were anything but Lucy and Ricky Ricardo,” he allegedly said. “They had nothing to do with us. We dreamed of success, fame, and fortune. And guess what? It all led to hell.”