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Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were married for 20 years. Although they loved each other, Arnaz admits Ball wasn’t his first love. There was another woman in his life that he had a serious romance with. Here’s what the I Love Lucy star said about the woman he loved first.

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s relationship

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz | Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Arnaz and Ball met on the Paramount lot. They were both starring in the film Too Many Girls. Arnaz was so impressed with Ball that when he first saw her, he said, “Man, that is a hunk of woman!” according to his book, A Book.

Ball was also mesmerized during her first meeting with Arnaz. In her book, Love Lucy, she says she couldn’t stop staring at him. “I couldn’t take my eyes off this Desi Arnaz,” wrote Ball. “A striped football jersey hugged his big shoulders and chest, while those narrow hips in tight football pants swayed to the catchy rhythms of the bongo drum he was carrying. I recognized the kind of electrifying charm that can never be faked: star quality.”

Desi Arnaz says this woman was his ‘first love’


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Arnaz loved Ball, but she wasn’t his first love. In A Book, Arnaz wrote about the woman he called his “first real love.” He referred to her as “Freckles.” Arnaz said she was one of the most understanding women he ever dated. He met her one night when he was performing at a club. “She had the understanding and the patience to put up with me, which I am sure wasn’t an easy job at times,” says Arnaz. “She never nagged, never argued.”

Desi Arnaz’s relationship didn’t last

Arnaz and Freckles didn’t last. During their relationship, he admits he cheated on her with other women. However, he says she knew about his infidelity, but she chose to ignore it and pretend she wasn’t aware. Arnaz appreciated that she was so understanding, but her response also made him feel bad.

Arnaz had relationships with many women during his relationship with Freckles. Betty Grable and Lucille Ball were among the famous women he dated. Arnaz said his relationship with Ball was responsible for the end of his relationship with Freckles.

After meeting Ball, Arnaz wanted to get to know her better. He decided to ask her if she would like to join him and a few of his friends for dinner. Ball accepted the invitation, and they saw each other again at the club. Arnaz says they danced and had dinner that night.

Not long after their dinner, Arnaz saw Ball at the beach, and they began talking. Unfortunately, Arnaz was still in a relationship with Freckles. His girlfriend came to the beach with him, but he never returned to the spot where she was waiting. Instead, Arnaz stayed kept Ball company and later left with her. He says they spent the night together at her apartment. Ball was also in a relationship—she was engaged. Arnaz says she broke off her engagement the next day.

[Correction: An earlier version mistakenly said Ball and Arnaz were married for 10 years, not 20.]

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