They were the golden couple of 1950s television sitcoms, with 40 million viewers tuning in each week to watch their hilarious antics and swoon-worthy love.
But behind closed doors, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had a tumultuous marriage that ultimately ended in a bitter divorce in 1960.
Lucie Arnaz, the couple's 67-year-old daughter, said the frequent arguments began to roll every time the cameras stopped.
'They were fighting all the time,' she told Closer Weekly. 'Their divorce was horrible. And then there was the alcoholism.'
'We didn't have any abuse, but we did go through some pretty hard stuff and that's why my parents didn't stay together.'
When the couple first met on the set of the 1940 film Too Many Girls, the Cuban bandleader was a rising star while Lucy had a resume full of forgettable films.
The pair fell madly in love, eloping within six months. But the happiness began to fray long before I Love Lucy made its way to television screens across America.
Lucy briefly filed for divorce in 1944, fed up with Desi's womanizing and constant drinking.
But the pair reconciled and, in 1950, Lucy insisted Desi play her husband after she was offered a starring television role in an adaptation of her hit radio show.
'At the time the consensus was, "What the hell do we want with a Latin bandleader who can't speak English?"', I Love Lucy writer Bob Weiskopf told People in 1991.
'But she wanted him because she knew that if he went on the road with the band, he'd be catting around all the time.'
'She wanted him at home, where she felt the marriage would have a better chance of lasting, which of course it did.'
Desi's legendary womanizing also briefly came to a halt after Lucy gave birth to Lucie, their first child, in 1951.
Soon the couple were a bonafide success with I Love Lucy, which won five Emmy Awards and was the most watched show in the country for four of its six seasons.
But behind the scenes, everything was falling apart.
Keith Thibodeaux, who played Little Ricky on the show, recalled playing with their son Desi Jr in the family's backyard one day.
'We heard a lot of loud arguing and cursing and glass shattering and screaming, and we were scared,' he said.
'Desi Jr turned to me and said "There they go again"'. I was about nine, 10 years old.'
Thibodeaux also recalled an instance when his father, a family friend, and Lucy bumped into Ricky at a Palm Springs country club.
'She went to the lounge to have a drink, and Desi walked in with a couple of women on his arm. When he saw Lucy at the bar, he turned around and took off.'
Rumors regarding Desi's unfaithfulness eventually made their way into the magazine Confidential, and Lucy read an advance copy during a rehearsal day on the show.
'Everybody was frozen on the set,' Charles Pomerantz, Lucy's longtime publicist, recalled. 'She finally came out, tossed the magazine to Desi and said, "Oh hell, I could tell them worse than that."'.
But Desi never believed his womanizing was a serious problem, according to Weiskopf.
'Basically, Desi's attitude was, "What the hell's the matter? I love her. When I go out with women, they're usually hookers. Those don't count,"' he recalled.
By 1956, Lucy confessed to Bart Andrews - who wrote three books about the couple - that their relationship 'wasn't even a marriage anymore'.
'They were just going through a routine for the children,' he said. 'She told me that for the last five years of their marriage, it was just "booze and broads"'.
Desi would later admit in his memoir that his drinking habits worsened as he struggled with running Desilu Productions while his wife's fame skyrocketed.
The couple finally divorced in 1960. Lucy would later reveal that her darkest moment was when she 'got divorced and disappointed millions of people by doing so'.
That included Lucie, who was just nine years old when her parents split.
'Part of me probably totally understood why, because we had heard the arguments and that wasn't fun either,' she told the Television Academy in 2011.
'But it was hard. It was very hard. And I didn't want my dad out of the house. He was out of the house enough. I didn't want him to go any further away.'
And Lucie said she was devastated when her mother remarried a year later, tying the knot with stand-up comedian Gary Morton.
'I mean, that was a knife in the heart,' she recalled. 'You're kidding, right? It's only been a year. Not even. So it was a rough period for all of us.'
But Lucie eventually came around to Morton, who her mother remained with until she died at the age of 77 in 1989.
'He made her laugh and didn't embarrass her in any way,' Lucie recalled. 'He didn't drink too much. He didn't smile and giggle with the ladies.'
'I don't know if they had a passionate marriage. I hope so.'
Even after she married Gary, Lucy was still known to ask Hollywood reporter Jim Bacon how her ex-husband was.
'She wanted to know how he was getting along,' Bacon recalled. 'There was always that great, great love there.'
And friends weren't entirely surprised when Desi married Edith Hirsch, a vivacious redhead that some remarked was Lucy's 'double', in 1963.
Lucie became best friends with Hirsch, who died of cancer in 1985, and described her as the 'best thing that ever happened' to Desi.
'She was a joy, an absolute joy,' Lucie recalled. 'Great laugh. She taught me how to drive, she went bowling with us, she took us to the fair.'
'She knew exactly how to handle my dad. She was amazing...I really miss her.'
In the years after the divorce, Lucie said her parents became good friends once again and stayed that way 'until the bitter end'.
The pair were so close, in fact, that when Lucy died - three years after Desi - Morton turned to a friend and said: 'I guess she's happy now, she's with Desi'.
Date Posted: Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 , Total Page Views: 634
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