7 Facts About Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz That You Never Knew

Over the years, there have been quite a few scintillating onscreen/offscreen romances–from Brad and Angelina to Goldie and Kurt to Will and Jada, but our absolute favorite is a classic one, the legendary marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Although most everybody knows them as their I Love Lucy characters, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, much about their fascinating personal lives has long been forgotten.

Here are 7 surprising facts about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz that will completely change the way you think about the iconic actors!

  1. Before I Love Lucy, Ball was known as the “Queen of B Movies”

    By the time she retired from acting in 1985, Ball had appeared in an astounding 72 films— but you probably haven’t seen many of them.

    You see, most of these films were made during the early part of her career, in the 1940s, when the young actress was happy to take any job she could get. Fun fact: She met her husband, Desi Arnaz, on the set of one of these forgettable movies, Dance, Girl, Dance.

  2. Desi Arnaz had a rocky early life

    Arnaz was born to a wealthy family in Cuba but was forced to flee his home country at the tender age of 16 following the 1933 revolution. His family resettled in Miami and, after working some odd jobs, Arnaz embarked on what would become a massively successful music career, a move that would eventually bring him to the silver screen.

  3. They were the first interracial couple on American television

    Word on the street is that CBS executives were nervous about casting Ball’s real-life husband on the show with her, not because of their infamously tumultuous relationship, but because of his Cuban heritage. Ultimately, love— and a heck of a lot of talent!—prevailed and the duo made TV history.

  4. Ball’s real-life pregnancy stirred up a whole lot of controversy

    Things were mighty different back in December of 1952 when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were awaiting the birth of their second child. They decided to incorporate Lucy’s pregnancy on the show, but CBS forbade them or any other cast members from referring to the star as “pregnant.” Instead, they could only say euphemisms like “expecting.”

    According to research compiled by the AV Club, network executives were hesitant to even include Ball’s real-life pregnancy onscreen in the first place, as they felt that her baby bump might not be appropriate for 1950s audiences. That said, the 7 episodes featuring Ball’s “condition” ended up being the most popular in the history of the series. Go figure!

  5. They did not have a “fairy tale” marriage

    Although the TV couple certainly had onscreen chemistry, Arnaz’ wandering eye complicated their marriage. In a 1980 interview with PEOPLE, Ball admits that she was privy to her husband’s womanizing reputation when they first met, but that didn’t stop her from marrying him.

    [Desi’s playboy reputation} intrigued me. I was amazed at myself saying yes [to marriage] after knowing him only six months,” Ball remembers. “Everybody gave it about a year and a half. I gave it six weeks. I thought it was the most daring thing I’ve ever done, and it certainly was.”

  6. They had a very civil divorce

    Before the start of the show in 1951, the couple had already been separated once, but they managed to keep their marriage intact– at least through the duration of the series.

    In 1960, cheating, alcoholism, and lifestyle differences ended up sealing the fate of the relationship, but that doesn’t mean their divorce was tempestuous. As a matter of fact, Ball herself said that she “always” got along with her ex. They didn’t even use lawyers during their divorce! How “unHollywood-like” of them…

  7. Their children carried on their showbiz legacies

    When they were kids, Arnaz and Ball’s children, Lucie Jr. and Desi Jr. were featured on their parents’ show, but their showbiz careers didn’t stop there.

    Both have continued to work in the industry as actors and producers, with Lucie even winning an Emmy award for her film Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie. In 1992, Desi Arnaz Jr. portrayed his father, Desi Arnaz, in the film Mambo Kings. Talent certainly does run in the family!

Who knew that so much was going on behind the scenes of the show? To learn even more about Ball and Arnaz’ endearing relationship, be sure to watch the video below. TV just doesn’t get more magical than these two!

What’s your take on Lucy and Desi’s real-life romance? Were you surprised by their histories? Can you remember when TV pregnancies were so controversial? What is your favorite I Love Lucy episode?