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Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz's Kids Lived Different Lives after Parents Thrust Them into the Spotlight

Olawale Ogunjimi
Feb 13, 2022
09:40 P.M.
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Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had a tumultuous marriage that ended after twenty years. However, they welcomed two children who are doing well in their respective careers in Hollywood.

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Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were two of Hollywood's most talented entertainers. Born on March 2, 1917, the latter's career in the movie industry began by appearing in the Broadway play "Too Many Girls." 

After his role, the actor proceeded to Hollywood to produce the movie version of the play. This saw the start of a career in Hollywood that spanned several decades. On the other hand, Ball was born on August 6, 1911, in New York. 

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" [left]. Lucille Ball (1911 - 1989) and her husband, Desi Arnaz (1917 - 1986) holding their two children, Desi Jr and Lucie, circa 1953 [right]. | Photo: Getty Images

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The actress constantly desired to be a movie star from a young age. However, her first breakthrough only came in 1933 when she starred as a Goldwyn Girl in "Roman Scandals."

After her performance, Ball landed other roles and became a regular face on the big screen. Her show "I Love Lucy," which she co-owned with Desi Sr, left many glued to their screens. 

It depicted a comedy side to marital life. Even though the show was based on fiction, the pair were married in real life.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz pose with their son Desi Arnaz Jr. at their home in California on January 1953 | Photo: Getty Images

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INSIDE LUCILLE BALL AND DESI ARNAZ'S TURBULENT LOVE STORY 

Ball and Desi Sr first met over eight decades ago in 1940 when they appeared in "Too Many Girls." The following years saw a whirlwind romance metamorphose into a marriage. Shortly after they met, the former couple tied the knot, leaving their colleagues stunned.

One of the duo's co-stars explained that everyone on set made bets about how long Ball and Desi Sr's marriage would last. However, the couple paid no attention to people's opinions and continued to thrive in showbiz.

Unfortunately, four years into their union, the RKO studio actress and the Cuban bandleader hit rocky times, reportedly stemming from the latter's alcohol addiction and infidelity issues. 

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Lucille Ball and husband, Desi Arnaz seated in directors chairs at press conference in Los Angeles, California, circa 1953 | Photo: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ball could not keep up with Desi Sr's habit, filed for divorce but eventually reconciled. Later, the couple attributed their marital issues to a lack bonding time because their movie schedules were not in sync.

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So, Ball and Desi Sr became business partners to curb the shortage of their couple time. The pair looked for projects they could work on together and eventually birthed "I Love Lucy."

The CBS-aired American sitcom hit the airwaves in 1951 and ran for six years, eventually winning an Emmy Award. However, the smooth sailing way "I Love Lucy" played out could not save the main characters' marriage from crumbling. 

Publicity photo of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for "The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show." | Photo: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

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After enduring the hardships of the marriage for 20 years, the pair called it quit in 1960. However, their bond stayed unbroken. They remained great parents to their two children, Lucie and Desi Jr, whom they welcomed in 1951 and 1953.

LUCIE BALL'S SUCCESSFUL & HAPPY MARRIED LIFE - WHERE IS SHE NOW?

Growing up, Lucie watched her parents accomplish greatness in the entertainment industry. This fueled her desire to pursue a career in the movie industry. Having famous parents, with their shows, paved the way for Lucie. She began making appearances alongside her mother on "The Lucy Show at a young age."

Lucie became a regular face in the series "Here's Lucy at fifteen." She enjoyed a smooth ride in show biz, featuring side by side Hollywood icons like Neil Diamond, Sir Laurence Olivier, etc. 

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Portrait of Lucille Ball and her family. From left is Lucie Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Gary Morton, Desi Arnaz, Jr. | Photo: Getty Images

Lucie starred in numerous productions such as "The Jazz Singer," "Billy Jack Goes to Washington," "Second Thoughts," "Down To You," "Wild Seven," "The Pack," and many others. The movie star also acted in several made-for-television films and stage plays.

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Lucie's performances in a stage play such as "A Time to Stay," "Goodbye Charlie," "Vanities," "Annie Get Your Gun," and many more saw her make her Broadway debut in "They're Playing Our Song." All of Lucie's terrific performances did not go unrewarded.

In 1981, she received the Golden Globe Award Nomination for the Best Supporting Actress. Although Lucie has put in efforts into having a stellar career, she has been vocal about living in the shadows of her famous mother. 

Desi Arnaz, Richard Keith and Maurice Chevalier from The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour | Photo: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

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During an interview with Desert Sun, the actress said, "I have to say it got to be my one big, giant nemesis. The story is that it took me all these years — 49 years in show business — to find something to do so that when I came out the stage door, the first thing people said to me was not 'God, I love your mother.'"

Indeed, Lucie no longer lives in her mother's shadows, but she is focused on spending time with family these days. The actress is happily married to Laurence Luckinbill, whom she met in 1979, during the run of "They're Playing Our Song."

They started dating three months after their meeting, as Luckinbill was dealing with a divorce. However, after dating for six months, the lovebirds tied the knot in June 1980. 

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Photo of actor Desi Arnaz, circa 1970 | Photo: Getty Images

They currently live in Palm Springs and are doting parents to three children — Simon, born in 1980, Joseph in 1982, and Katherine in 1985. Apart from her biological kids, Lucie is also a stepmom to her husband's two sons, Nicholas and Benjamin. Although Lucie received a lot of accolades and honors, she is most proud of her children and her role as a mother.

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DESI JR'S HEARTBREAKING TALE - WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM? 

Desi Jr is an actor and musician. However, his life in the entertainment industry has been filled with various challenging situations. From a young age, Desi Jr developed a passion for playing drums. This led him to begin a rock band with Dean Martin's son called "Dino, Desi, and Billy." But, even though he had musical talents, acting was still in his blood. 

At age four, his first on-screen appearance was on his parent's show, "I Love Lucy." Subsequently, Desi Jr featured in other productions such as "The Lucy Show," "The Brady Bunch," and "The Love Boat." In addition, the actor stood behind the camera to produce many shows.

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Photo of Actress Lucille Ball and her husband actor Desi Arnaz | Photo: Getty Images

Some of the shows include "An Evening With Linda Purl," "A Tribute to Dean Martin," "An Evening With Lucille Ball," "The Nutcracker," and many others. But, irrespective of his successes, the star has had his fair share of tough times.

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Desi Jr's first challenging experience came when he was 15 years old. The actor fathered a child, Julia Howe, with his then 15-year-old girlfriend, Susan Howe. Although Desi Jr denied it, a paternity test proved that he was Julia's father.

Desi Jr's battle with drug and alcohol addiction began shortly after welcoming his child. The musician, who was a teenager at the time, struggled with an identity crisis, as he felt pressure to live up to his famous parents.

Desi Arnaz embraces his wife, Lucille Ball while watching a televised football game at the Racquet Club in Palm Springs, California, circa 1953 | Photo: Getty Images

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This led Desi Jr to abuse drugs and alcohol at a young age. Although he received encouragement from family to seek help, the actor never heeded until he turned 25 and sought help.

Desi Jr went to rehab and eventually became clean. He revealed that he had the support of his parents throughout his time in recovery. Desi Jr told Closer weekly:

"They were very supportive, and I think they were helped tremendously by what happened to me."

Lucie Arnaz was making her acting debut with her mother, Lucille Ball in the Lucy Show to be shown on the CBS-TV network and Desi Arnaz Jr on March 4th. | Photo: Getty Images

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Stopping alcohol and drug consumption did not prevent Desi Jr from encountering other challenges. In 2015, he was left in trauma following his wife, Amy's death. She passed away after a battle with brain cancer for two years.

However, it is joyful to see that Desi Jr had put the past behind and forged ahead. These days, he prefers to live privately, away from the spotlight. He confessed thus:

"I'm fine. I'm trying to make each day better not only for myself but for others too."

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz at Desilu Studios, California | Photo: Getty Images.

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PRESERVING THEIR PARENTS' LEGACY 

Unfortunately, Lucie and Desi Jr lost their father on December 2, 1986. Desi Sr passed away at his home in Del Mar, California, after a battle with cancer. He was sixty-nine.

Almost three years after Desi Sr's death on April 26, 1989, Ball passed away at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She died at seventy-seven after undergoing heart surgery. 

Since Ball and Desi Sr's demise, Lucie and Desi Jr have stayed focused on preserving their parents' legacy. In 2018, Lucie produced "Lucy and Desi," a movie depicting the real life of her parents.

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Publicity photo of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for "The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show." | Photo: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Three years later, she and Desi Jr co-executive produced "Being the Ricardos," another film that threw more light on the lives of Ball and Desi Sr.

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Apart from producing movies about their parents, the siblings also established the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum. Inside the museum are exact recreations of the studio sets from "I Love Lucy."

It also features props and costumes, scripts, and Emmy Awards from the excellent TV sitcom. With these acts from Lucie and Desi Jr, it is safe to say that their parents will never be forgotten.

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