While they may have played everyone’s favorite couple on “I Love Lucy,” Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s relationship was anything but perfect in real life.
With Nicole Kidman set portray Ball in an upcoming biopic about their relationship, take a look at the couple’s rocky marriage, their divorce, and their eternal love for each other.
Both Ball and Arnaz married in 1940. Neither was quite as wholesome as the sitcom characters they portrayed. On set, Ball was often difficult to work with and alienated some of her co-stars. Some said that Arnaz felt inferior to Ball’s rising star. Meanwhile, Arnaz was a known womanizer and unfaithful to Ball. He would often acquire the company of prostitutes, which he didn’t view as cheating. Behind closed doors, the two would fight often. Ball was aware of Arnaz’s infidelities.
Before the show premiered, the two were following separate career paths. Ball actually wanted Arnaz hired to keep an eye on her husband.
“She wanted him because she knew that if he went on the road with the band, he’d be catting around all the time,” writer Bob Weiskopf told People. “She wanted him at home, where she felt the marriage would have a better chance of lasting, which of course it did.”
After a few miscarriages, the couple finally had two children together. For a time, Arnaz’s role as a father mellowed some of his wandering ways.
“Some of Desi’s womanizing was alleviated from the moment little Lucie was born,” writer Bart Andrews said. “I think he felt more sensitive about those things and stopped some of that. For a while, at least.”
The ‘I Love Lucy’ Stars Divorce
But after almost 20 years of marriage, the couple finally divorced. The “I Love Lucy” star filed for divorce following the last episode of their variety show “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.”
They had almost divorced several times prior, with Ball flirting with the idea of leaving Arnaz. Toward the end of their marriage, they didn’t even share the same bedroom.
“They had tried like three times to get a divorce, but Lucy had always stopped it,” Winograd told People. “Finally she planned to move to Switzerland, take her kids and get out of Hollywood.”
After their divorce, both remarried. Ball married Gary Morton, and Arnaz married Edith Mack Hirsch. But the two remained good friends until Arnaz’s death in 1986. Many confessed that the couple, despite their problems, still shared a deep love for each other.
“Maybe I’m the romantic, but there was a great, great love there, there really was,” director William Asher told the outlet. “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.”