Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz At The Brown Derby Restaurant – 1948
Lucille Ball flashes her best smile as her husband, Desi Arnaz fumbles with a corsage as they dine at the Brown Derby. photo: Acme 3-6-48
In 1948 Lucille Ball was starring in the CBS radio program My Favorite Husband. With the success of the show CBS proposed that Lucy develop My Favorite Husband for the growing medium of television. That show would become I Love Lucy starring Lucy and real life husband Desi Arnaz.
Let’s then contemplate that Lucy’s phenomenal success may never have occurred had she gone through with the divorce she filed against Desi Arnaz on September 7, 1944.
The couple eloped November 30, 1940, knowing one another for a few months after appearing together in the film Too Many Girls.
Their marriage was a turbulent one. Lucy testified at the Los Angeles divorce hearing on October 16, 1944 that Desi was “unduly argumentative,” and that family life made her “a nervous wreck.” Lucy requested no alimony and was granted an interlocutory divorce. One month later, Lucy and Desi reconciled and Lucy halted the divorce proceedings.
The marriage did end in March 1960 well after the couple achieved unprecedented professional and financial success.
If the two had divorced in 1944, what is the likelihood of I Love Lucy ever coming into existence?
Lucille Ball would most likely have been a footnote in motion picture history as a “B” movie actress. Desi Arnaz would be as forgotten as bandleader Xavier Cugat is today.
It is also unlikely that Desilu, Lucy and Desi’s production studio would have come about. Would the popular shows produced by the studio; The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and Mannix ever have been made? For the joy that Lucy and Desi brought about, we should all be thankful that the marriage continued after 1944.
It’s fascinating that Desi Arnaz pretty much invented the sitcom as we know it –on film, three cameras, live audience, reruns, the whole shebang. He produced ’50s classics like “The Untouchables”. But once the divorce happened, that was the end of him. Other than producing the first season of Lucy’s first solo sitcom, and creating “The Mothers-in-Law”, he didn’t do anything on TV again. It was if his whole purpose in life was creating “I Love Lucy”. He and William Frawley were my favorite actors on the show.