‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s First Date

I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were married from 1940 to 1960. Here’s what she said about her first date with Arnaz.

How Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz first met

Lucille Bar and Desi Arnaz | Archive Photos/Getty Images
Lucille Bar and Desi Arnaz | Archive Photos/Getty Images

Ball and Arnaz first met after being introduced on the RKO lot while she was filming Dance, Girl, Dance. However, this wasn’t the first time she laid eyes on the actor. In her book, Love, Lucy, Ball said she first saw Arnaz during his performance in the musical Too Many Girls. According to her, he was quite the ladies’ man.

“From the way girls reacted to him, he was the Elvis Presley of his day,” wrote Ball. “Offstage he was dating film stars, stage stars, and all the leading debutantes, including the beautiful Brenda Frazier.”

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s first date

Ball and Arnaz had their first date at a nightclub. However, instead of dancing the night away, they sat and talked for hours. Arnaz made a very good impression on Ball.

“We went to a nightclub, but instead of joining the conga line we sat at a small table, talking and talking,” wrote Ball. “I might as well admit here and now I fell in love with Desi wham, bang! In five minutes. There was only one thing better than looking at Desi, and that was talking to him.”

Desi Arnaz told Lucille Ball his tragic life story

Lucille Ball with Desi Arnaz | © Bettmann/CORBIS/Bettmann Archive
Lucille Ball with Desi Arnaz | © Bettmann/CORBIS/Bettmann Archive

Arnaz grew up rich, but he ended up losing his wealth. He later came to the United States and rebuilt his fortune. “His family owned cattle ranches and townhouses in Cuba,” wrote Ball. “Desi’s father, a doctor of pharmacology, was mayor of Santiago for ten years. His mother, Delores, was a famous beauty and one of the heirs to the Bacardi rum fortune.”

Things were going well for Arnaz, until he had to flee Cuba during a revolution. His parents’ home was burned down, and their cattle was killed. His family decided to start over in Florida. Ball says she was moved by Arnaz’s story.

“As he told me the story, Desi’s eyes filled with tears,” continued Ball. “I began to sniffle too, thinking about my own grandfather and how his life had been ruined through no fault of his own. I knew just how Desi felt.”

Lucille Ball said she only had eyes for Desi Arnaz

Ball said she felt very passionate about Arnaz. She loved him deeply and wanted nothing more than to marry him and have his children.

“I sensed in Desi a great need,” wrote Ball. “Beneath that dazzling charm was a homeless boy who had no one to care for him, worry about him, love him. And I wanted him and only him as the father of my children.”

Unfortunately, Ball and Arnaz divorced after 20 years of marriage. The former couple had a few false starts, but they finally went their separate ways after Arnaz asked for a divorce. Ball went on to marry entertainer Gary Morton and Arnaz married Edith Mack Hirsch.

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