How Desi Arnaz Publicly Gushed Over Ex-Wife Lucille Ball After ‘Here’s Lucy’ Premiered

I Love Lucy stars Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball divorced in 1960 after 20 years of marriage. Co-parenting their two children, Lucie and Desi Jr., the couple continued to maintain an amicable relationship.

When Ball started her third sitcom Here’s Lucy in 1968, she recruited her kids to join her on the show. Though the critics didn’t give the series high marks when it premiered, Arnaz wasn’t shy about showing his adoration to his children … and his ex.

Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Jr., Lucie Arnaz, and Desi Arnaz
Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Jr., Lucie Arnaz, and Desi Arnaz | J. Wilds/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Lucille Ball gets her kids in the family business

Ball played widow Lucy Carter in Here’s Lucy, which debuted in September 1968. With show business being a family endeavor, the famous redhead recruited her two kids to play her onscreen teenagers. Arnaz supported the decision.

“As long as they keep their grades up in school, I don’t care,” Arnaz said, according to the book Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz by Coyne Steven Sanders and Tom Gilbert. “Lucy and I both have the same ultimate aim for both of them – bring them up as well as we can, teach them all we can … Nothing in life comes before my kids.”

Reviews of the show weren’t favorable, with Cleveland Amory of TV Guide writing, “While we loved I Love Lucy, we can’t even make friends with this show.”

Legendary critic Rex Reed labeled the sitcom “terrible,” adding, “I love Lucy, but these scripts have got to get better.”

RELATED: Desi Arnaz’s Daughter Stopped Visiting Him After His Divorce from Lucille Ball Because ‘He’d Always Lose His Temper’

Desi Arnaz praises his ex-wife and kids in print

Arnaz didn’t hold back giving his daughter accolades after seeing her on the sitcom. While Desi Jr. had been in the spotlight with his small musical group, Lucie had yet to make her mark.

“I think the wonderful surprise to everyone is my daughter,” Arnaz boasted proudly of Lucie. “Everyone had already known about Desi with his trio. But nobody had seen Lucie do anything. I knew she was loaded with talent. … She’s got a lot of her mother in her.”

Following the Here’s Lucy premiere, Arnaz made his pride public through a full-page ad in both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Celebrating his kids, Arnaz included a special note about his ex-wife.

“Lucie and Desi: I am so proud, Love, Dad,” the ad from Arnaz read, along with a line for Ball. “P.S. That red-headed gal playing your mother is the greatest.”

‘We’re still very fond of each other’

According to Sanders and Gilbert’s book, Arnaz called Ball after her series premiere aired.

“Honey, regardless of whether they’re our children or not, they were just great,” he told her, adding a personal note. “I just wanted you to know how proud I was of the kids – and of you.”

When Arnaz was asked about his heartfelt advertisement the day after it was published, the former bandleader revealed he still held his former wife and I Love Lucy co-star in the highest regard.

RELATED: ‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball Recalled the ‘Aching Silence’ After Telling Her Kids She and Desi Arnaz Were Divorcing

“Well, it’s only the truth,” Arnaz said of what he wrote about Ball. “She is the greatest. I love Lucy. I do love her. Lucy and I were married for a long time, and we’re still very fond of each other. We lived together for 20 years – you can’t stay together that long unless there’s something there.”