I Love Lucy’s idyllic depiction of 1950s America made it the most-watched show of its time, and its stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were supposed to be the ideal twosome both on-screen and off.
But a new book has laid bare their fiery two-decade relationship with revelations of alcoholism, extramarital affairs, prostitution use and brutal arguments.
The book, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz: They Weren’t Lucy & Ricky Ricardo, outlines their rise from aspiring actors to America’s sweethearts.
While the couple’s flings were an open secret during their marriage, the book goes into remarkable detail about the destructive nature of their personal life.
It also exposes how Lucille Ball posed nude in modelling shoots and turned tricks to make ends meet throughout years spent attempting to make it in the showbiz industry.
Lucille Ball, who was eight years senior, and wed Dezi Arnaz in 1940, having met the same year, when they were at opposing ends of the Hollywood power dynamic.
Lucille Ball was an undeniable star of more than 50 films, while Dezi Arnaz had escaped Cuba and been forced to take work as a janitor, before trying his luck as a musician and actor.
After their careers had both hit roadblocks, the duo convinced TV executives at CBS to cast Dezi Arnaz as a Cuban bandleader, a fictionalised version of himself, alongside his all American spouse Lucille Ball.
Almost as soon as it started in 1951, the show soon became the top-rated programme on television, but behind the scenes, the sex-obsessed Dezi Arnaz was continually cheating with prostitutes, while Lucille Ball also solicited the company of other men.
The book quotes Dezi Arnaz saying that marriage was okay, but adultery was more fun – just ask Lucy.
Author Darwin Porter remembers meeting the famous duo in the late 1950s when they appeared together at a ‘Lucy & Desi’ day at the University of Miami.
Darwin Porter, the student body president at the time, had arrived to transport them to the event and found the couple having one of their legendary arguments.
Porter wrote that she yelled accusations at him, at one point calling him a racial slur, and she accused him of having sex with two prostitutes the night before.
He didn’t deny it but insisted that it didn’t mean a thing, his fooling around with some hookers and that Peccadilloes didn’t count.
The biography also outlines the pair’s somewhat different pathways to fame.
This of course isn’t brand new information to those who’ve studied Lucille Ball’s captivating life, and it seems that at a time when all this lewdness was kept under wraps, well, that was tolerably normal, but now it’s being made as if this was abnormal.
For years it was understood that the couple had a rocky marriage – Desi Arnaz wrote about it in his book, even while making it plain that he loved her to the degree that he knew how to, but this was all typically Hollywood, and name a star that didn’t indulge, and Lucy wasn’t naked in the photos, she was covered by hair.
She also succeeded in a time when women’s roles were vastly different from today, so we can’t judge her to today’s standards, whatever her truth is, and she’s been dead for a long time, so what’s the purpose of trashing her memory? Book sales and money – it’s always about money!