Why Lucille Ball resorted to this “desperate measure” as her marriage to Desi Arnaz “quickly fell apart”
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were considered Hollywood Kings when they played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in I love lucy. Their tumultuous relationship ended in divorce in 1960 after 20 years of marriage, although they continued their professional partnership and co-parented their two children, Lucie and Desi Jr. it wasn’t the first time their marriage faced divorce.
Desi Arnaz served in the United Service Organization (USO)
After Ball and Arnaz married in 1940, they both juggled busy careers. Arnaz was drafted into the military in 1943 during World War II, but was put on limited service in the army medics after injuring his kneecap. He spent his time entertaining wounded servicemen at a hospital in Birmingham, California. The location allowed Arnaz to keep his connection to show business, which at times could be a bad influence.
“It annoyed him that he wasn’t himself abroad,” Ball wrote of Arnaz in his book “Love, Lucy”. “He was allowed to be discharged from the hospital every evening and weekend, which turned out to be unfortunate. He was too close to Hollywood.
Arnaz began dating the studio big boss Louis B. Mayer and joined him in “gambling, horse racing, yachting, and high-profile parties,” according to Ball. While Arnaz did his military service by day and partied at night, Ball was asserting himself as a true superstar. Their separated lives had a negative impact on their relationship.
“While I got worked up with filmmaking and liaison tours,” she remarked, “my marriage was falling apart quickly.”
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Lucille Ball filed for divorce in 1944
Ball pointed out how Arnaz’s behavior worsened over the years, to the point that it made tabloid headlines.
“Desi’s nightlife even had some jaded conversations in Hollywood,” she revealed. “Confidential Magazine ran a story about their weekend in Palm Springs, and that also deeply hurt and humiliated me. … In the summer of 1944, Desi stopped coming home. One night I slept until dawn wondering where our marriage went wrong and what I had done wrong.
The famous redhead lost her mind with Arnaz’s antics and made a bold but strategic move to get her attention and eventually restore their marriage.
“Finally, I found a desperate measure,” she wrote. “I always loved Desi; he was the only man in my life. But I decided to divorce. I chose California because a divorce there takes a year to become final, so there were 365 days left for reconciliation.
Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball tried to save their marriage
In her memoir, Ball described how her divorce petition made Arnaz put more effort into their marriage. She paid $ 2,000 in legal costs but quashed the legal request for a split.
“For a long time Desi came home every night and we both tried really hard to make things work,” the I love lucy star explained. “I no longer expected to be as happy as I had been as an ecstatic new bride, but I was looking for a measure of peace and security. I closed my eyes, put on blinders, and ignored what was too painful to think about.
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Ball recalled a reporter asking Arnaz what changes he made to be a better husband in their marriage and shared his response.
“[Desi] fell into a prolonged silence, then finally found two, ”she wrote. “Well, I try to sleep with the damn windows open because Lucy likes the fresh air.” Then I started square dancing for a while.
Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960.