In the second part, CaveGirl discusses Lucille’s marriage to Desi and the tremendous success they had on television:
Desi Arnaz was born in 1917 to a wealthy family in Santiago, Cuba. His father was the mayor of the city, but he had his property confiscated during revolutionary times in 1933. As a result, the family fled to Miami and Desi began life in the United States.
Desi had musical talent, and while he was growing up in Florida, he was determined to find work in some of the more well-known bands. His first major opportunity came when he was hired by Xavier Cugat. A short time later, Desi wound up on Broadway in a stage production of George Abbott’s play ‘Too Many Girls.’ RKO bought the rights for a motion picture adaptation, and Desi was among the show’s original performers to be given a contract by the studio. After he arrived in Hollywood, he was introduced to Lucille, who was going to play the female lead in the movie. A quick courtship began, and soon they were wed. Not many gave their union much chance of succeeding.
Continuing her upward career movement, Lucille was signed by MGM in 1942 and left RKO. In the mid-40s, she appeared in films like MEET THE PEOPLE with Dick Powell; and DU BARRY WAS A LADY with Red Skelton & Gene Kelly. Her hair was colored red for the role as Madame Du Barry, and it became her trademark.
When her contract with Metro ended, Lucille started freelancing. In between movies, she appeared on the radio series My Favorite Husband with Richard Denning. Meanwhile Desi was out on the road with his band. Hoping to merge their careers, the couple worked with their agent to sell a television pilot to CBS. They performed a live version of the concept, borrowing the format developed in My Favorite Husband. Essentially, they were playing themselves– he was a bandleader, and she was the more famous wife who wanted to accompany his act. But a slight, yet important, change was made before the weekly TV series began. Lucy thought it would play better if the wife was more of a homebody– with no star status and everyday problems.
In 1950 after refining the basic idea for I Love Lucy, Lucille and Desi formed Desilu Productions so that they could retain full control of their TV show. They also decided to film it on the west coast, not in New York as the network wished. Using the writers from My Favorite Husband– Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr.– the show was a hit and began its long and successful run.
Though she would become more famous for her television work, Lucille Ball is still remembered for her work in numerous films. These include classics like ROBERTA; TOP HAT; I DREAM TOO MUCH; FOLLOW THE FLEET; STAGE DOOR; ROOM SERVICE; THE BIG STREET; MISS GRANT TAKES RICHMOND; THE DARK CORNER; LURED; and FANCY PANTS.