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Lucille Ball was ‘powerless’ against Desi Arnaz’s ‘sexual chemistry’: book

When Lucille Ball met Desi Arnaz, she was wearing a torn gold dress and a head bandage while sporting a black eye.

But it was love at first sight.

“They each had their own careers, they were engaged to other people … but their connection was that powerful,” Sarah Royal told Fox News Digital. 

“It’s part of the reason they’re so compelling as a couple because they [didn’t] ignore the red flags. They did talk about them. They had conversations before getting married and being together … especially Lucy.”

Lucille Ball wearing a black dress leaning in for a kiss from Desi Arnaz in a military suit

Lucille Ball (1911-1989) with Desi Arnaz (1917-1986), circa 1944. (William Grimes/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“What surprised me about them is that they did have this hot steamy romance, this sexual chemistry,” said Royal. “But there was also a lot of arguing and a lot of heartache.”

After two dates, the pair broke up with their long-term partners. Six months later, they were married.

Desi Arnaz placing a ring on a smiling Lucille Balls finger

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz married in 1940. (Getty Images)

But the whirlwind romance was plagued with problems. A persistent press declared that the union was a publicity stunt for their film “Too Many Girls.” Ball claimed their long-distance phone calls while they were apart cost a whopping $29,000, and the conversations mainly consisted of shouting “what?” over bad connections. 

According to the book, they each had “ferocious feelings of jealousy,” convinced that the other was fooling around.

Lucille Ball looking shocked as Desi Arnaz looks at her holding a straw hat

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball had a whirlwind romance before finding fame. (CBS Photo Archive/Courtesy of Getty Images)

Friends warned Ball that Arnaz “had a trail of broken hearts behind him.” There was a six-year age difference, as well as different religions, upbringings and languages spoken. But their romantic and sexual chemistry was described as “off the charts.”

“There’s a funny story of Lucy giving an interview to somebody,” said Royal. “And the interviewer says something like, ‘When are you going to get married?’ And she’s like, ‘No, I’m just going to be a bachelor girl.’ And then literally, after that interview, Desi’s like, ‘So we’re going to get married.’”


Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz kissing on their wedding day

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz married again in 1949. This time, it was a Catholic ceremony. (Getty Images)

“Part of it is that Lucy went against a lot of judgment in terms of her own,” Royal continued. “’We have to do things the smart way, and I’m going to be very calm, cool and collected about this.’ But in a lot of ways, she was also just powerless against this force that was between her and Desi. … She felt understood by him in a way that I think no one else did.

“I don’t think that there ever was an actual dissolution of love between them until the day that each of them died.”

According to the book, Ball “decided she wanted nothing more than to please Desi and take care of him, and that she would sacrifice anything to make that happen. After all the distressing back-and-forth about whether they should be together, she was blissfully, deliriously happy.” 

As for Arnaz, he “passionately worshiped the ground she walked on.”

Desi Arnaz looking at Lucille Ball as another woman smiles in a scene from the movie Too Many Girls

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (left) in a scene from their film “Too Many Girls.” (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Still, Ball was worried over Arnaz’s womanizing as she sat at home “wishing she was expecting their child.” In 1944, she filed for divorce. Arnaz amped up his charm and asked her out for dinner on the night before the court hearing.

The hearing went on, and afterward, she “came right back and joined him in bed.” In less than 24 hours, they negated the divorce. In 1949, they married again.

Desi Arnaz looking upset as Lucille Ball ignores him and reads a newspaper

Desi Arnaz became known as “Mr. Ball.” (CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

But their union was quickly tested by Hollywood once more. Arnaz found himself losing film opportunities over his thick accent, and he was sometimes referred to as “Mr. Ball.” 

Being out-earned and out-starred was hurtful. Still, Ball pushed back against the studio, eager to find work for her beau so he wouldn’t have to go out on tour with his band.


Lucille Ball embracing Desi Arnaz from behind as he reads a letter

Lucille Ball was determined to find work for Desi Arnaz so they wouldn’t be apart. (Getty Images)

“There was a certain sense of hurt pride on Desi’s part,” said Royal. “Lucy was always the bigger star than he was. … Part of the reason they started working together was because Lucy said, ‘If he can only make money on the road by playing in his band … how am I supposed to get pregnant? 

“You can’t get pregnant through the mail. How are we supposed to have a family? How are we supposed to keep this marriage together if we can’t be in the same spot? So, she pushed for them to work together, honestly, just so that they could be together, be around each other physically.

Lucille Ball smiling and embracing Desi Arnaz who is also smiling

“I Love Lucy” was the No. 1 show in 1953. (CBS via Getty Images)

“It wasn’t until ‘I Love Lucy’ that … Desi found his space and his role as [a] producer behind the scenes,” Royal continued. “He, of course, starred in the show … [and] knew Lucy was the bigger star. But he had the power behind the scenes. He helped pioneer sitcoms. He helped pioneer the three-camera set-up [for] live audiences. He helped pioneer reruns. I go through this in the book, but he deserves so much credit. And he unfortunately doesn’t get as much credit because of the outsized persona of Lucy.”

With determination and a drive to stay together, their show “I Love Lucy” premiered in 1951, the same year they welcomed their first child, a daughter named Lucie Arnaz. By 1953, they had the No. 1 show in the country, the same year their son Desi Arnaz Jr. was born.

Lucille Ball smiling as her daughter Lucie Arnaz feeds her father Desi Arnaz a piece of cake

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz celebrating the first birthday of their daughter Lucie Arnaz at home.  (Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Life seemed picture perfect, but fate had other plans.

“To his credit, Desi admitted that he was raised observing and believing in a double standard where women must remain sexually loyal, but men were free to wander,” the book noted.

Lucille Ball smiling in a white dress while Desi Arnaz looks more serious in front of their home

Success in Hollywood couldn’t save Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s marriage. (FPG/Getty Images)

“Everyone’s like, ‘Desi was a womanizer and ruined the whole thing.’ That’s part of the story,” Royal explained. “He had a certain way of thinking about sexual escapades outside his marriage that had nothing to do with the emotional dedication and loyalty he had to his wife. Lucy felt differently. She felt that these sexual escapades outside the marriage were not part of what she wanted from a husband.”


Lucille Ball looking stern as Desi Arnaz kisses their ear as theyre surrounded by pink roses

Sarah Royal stressed there were several factors in the breakdown of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s marriage. (Archive Photos/Getty Images)

“She got hurt very badly, and Desi got hurt very badly,” she shared. “There were [also] a lot of qualities about her that were also tough to get along with. … At this point in their success, he said, ‘Can we stop and just enjoy the family that we’ve created and enjoy our success?’ And she wanted to keep going. I think that was another pain point, too. … I think it was surprising to me just how powerful they were together, even though there were so different and there were so many red flags. … Eventually, they came to that conclusion where the pressure was too much.”

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz wearing coats as they hold onto their two young children outside a plane

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz shared two children, a daughter named Lucie Arnaz and a son named Desi Arnaz Jr.  (J. Wilds/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images))

Despite their numerous attempts, Ball filed for divorce after the couple filmed the last episode of “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour” in 1960. This time, it was for good.

“At first, there was a lot of sorrow and a lot of rockiness,” Royal explained. “But they shared children. They created this incredible TV studio and machine together. … And they had this chemistry that nobody else had. … The pain softened and, in a lot of ways, they did have a more comfortable relationship. They actually were in each other’s lives a lot. 

“Not only for their grandchildren, but they knew each other’s spouses. Lucy even hung out with Desi’s second wife a couple of times. They would play cards.

Desi Arnaz leaning against his second wife

Desi Arnaz married Edith Mack Hirsch in 1963. The union lasted until her death in 1985. (Getty Images)

“They recognized that it would be impossible to split,” she shared. “And there still always was a love. He would still send her flowers on their anniversary even though they weren’t married anymore. … They set an example that there’s all different kinds of love.”

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz all smiles as they walk with their family together

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz remarried to other spouses, but their love endured. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

In 2022, Lucie told People magazine the last time her parents spoke was on Nov. 30, 1986, their wedding anniversary. Their final words to each other were “I love you.” Arnaz died Dec. 2 that year at age 69.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz smiling at each other at a ceremony in formal wear

The last words exchanged between exes Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were “I love you.” (Getty Images)

“I think they made great decisions to decouple their marriage but not their relationship with each other,” said Royal. “And I think they both supported each other through the end of both of their lives.”

Stephanie Nolasco covers entertainment at


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