These Were Lucille Ball's Last Words to Desi Arnaz, Daughter Reveals
In a new interview, Lucie Arnaz shares her parents' final exchange.
Today, it's easy to assume that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz spent their entire lives together. For six years, the pair appeared as a married couple on I Love Lucy, and that's the image most associated with each of them. But, life went on after their time on the show, and Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960 after being married for 20 years. Then, both entertainers remarried to the people they would stay with until their final days.
But, even though they didn't stay together, the love between Arnaz and Ball remained. In a new interview with People, their daughter, Lucie Arnaz, shared her mother's last words to her father before he died in 1986, and they show just how strong their bond still was. Read on to find out more.
Arnaz and Ball both remarried.
Following her divorce from Arnaz, Ball married comedian Gary Morton in 1961, and they were together until her death in 1989. As for Desi, he married Edith Hirsch in 1963; she died in 1985 while he passed away from lung cancer in 1986.
Ball spoke to Arnaz just before his death.
In her interview with People, Lucie shared that she was taking care of her father around the time of his death and that she was there when Ball spoke to him for the last time. When she called her mom to let her know the end was near, she put the phone up to Arnaz's ear so Ball could talk to him.
"I could hear her say, 'I love you.' Like, five times in a row," Lucie said. "And he was nodding his head and saying, 'I love you too, honey.'"
Lucie added, "He died in my arms. None of us realized it at the time, but the day they last spoke was Nov. 30, their wedding anniversary." Desi passed away on Dec. 2, 1986.
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They did the show to save their marriage.
Ball and Arnaz were married for 11 years by the time I Love Lucy debuted in 1951. According to Lucie, part of the reason they did the show together was to strengthen their relationship. As reported by Closer, their marriage was strained over the years by Arnaz's drinking and cheating.
"They did the show so they could be together because my dad was always on the road and they never saw each other," Lucie told People. "So my parents thought, 'Well, this is going to save our marriage, and we can have a family.'"
The couple welcomed both of their children while I Love Lucy was on the air. Lucie was born in 1951 and Desi Arnaz Jr. was born in 1953.
"They gave the country this wonderful creation, but they never got what they wanted—to stay together," Lucie continued. "[But] they loved each other until the end."
They remained close, even after their split.
In an interview with Closer in 2020, Lucie said, "The best thing that ever happened to them was getting divorced. They had a great divorce. They had a very successful divorce. It was fantastic. If their parents can't get along and that happens, then kids should be so lucky to have a divorce like my mom and my dad did, because they were kind, they never said bad words about each other in front of their children and they stayed friends til the day they died. It was a fantastic romance that even got more passionate and more friendly after they were not married to each other anymore, so there."