If you loved Lucy her whole life, you may want to know where Lucille Ball’s kids, Lucie and Desi Jr. Arnaz, are now and what their mother left them after she died in 1989.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz—Lucie and Desi Jr.’s parents—met on the set of the stage show, Too Many Girls, in 1940. They married later that year. In 1948, Ball was cast as Liz Cooper, a wacky wife in the CBS Radio comedy show, My Favorite Husband. The show ran for 148 episodes. After the success of My Favorite Husband, Ball was asked by CBS to develop it for television, which she agreed if she could work with her real-life husband, Arnaz. Unimpressed by the pilot episode, CBS turned down a show with Ball and Arnaz, which led them to hit the road as a vaudeville act in which Ball played a zany housewife who tried to get into her husband’s show. After the success of the tour, CBS greenlit I Love Lucy, which went on to run for more than 100 episodes and be one of the most-watched shows in TV history. The couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Lucie, in 1951, less than a year after the premiere of I Love Lucy. Their second child, a son named Desi Jr., was born in 1953 and became a part of the show’s storyline.
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Ball and Arnaz’s marriage was portrayed in the 2021 movie Being the Ricardos, in which Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem starred as the couple. The film was written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. In a Facebook post in 2021, Lucie reacted to Kidman playing her mother. “I felt I should just at least calm the waters here,” Lucie said in the video. “There seems to be a lot of discussion about Nicole Kidman. It should be Debra Messing. It should be Carole Cook, I don’t know.” She went on to clarify that Being the Ricardos isn’t an I Love Lucy remake, but a movie about her parents. “Here’s the deal. You should understand. We are not doing a remake of I Love Lucy. No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo nor do the Vitameatavegamin routine, or the chocolate factory routine or any of the silly things.”
She continued, “It’s the story of Lucille Ball, my actual mother, not Lucy Ricardo, and her husband, Desi Arnaz, my dad, not Ricky Ricardo. There will be humor in the film, but it is a story of the two of them and how they met and what went right with finding the show, what went wrong, their relationship, their love affair.” In an interview with Extra in December 2021, Kidman reacted to Lucie approving of her as her mother. “That is something that Javier and I want to honor,” she said. “But at the same time, you want it to be a true depiction of who they are so that people watching it go, ‘Oh, OK…’ Aaron’s really gone in there, he’s done them proud, but at the same time he has been very true to their spirits… They’re compelling, fascinating… people and at the same time—they are human.”
The story of Ball and Arnaz’s relationship was told in Amy Poehler’s 2022 documentary, Lucy and Desi, which dove into who they were as people in addition to Hollywood stars. “I knew about them as performers, not as people,” Poehler told Variety in 2021. “These two incredible outsiders worked hard to become powerful, influential figures at a time when women and immigrants were not running the system. But at the end of the day, the attempt was to tell a love story: Their long journey of falling in love, working, and staying in love with each other through thick and thin was echoed in their show.” Poehler continued, “And then to watch America’s most powerful couple — they created the idea of a power couple — split up after being on TV, as this example of how things will always be OK, it was interesting. So much is made of their work and comedy, and it should be. But I also think it is also an equal triumph to have a relationship that was the kind that they had. It is hard to maintain a working relationship, as well as a relationship with someone you love and is your partner in raising kids.”
So where are Lucille Ball’s kids, Lucie and Desi Jr. Arnaz, now and how much did they inherit after their mother death? Read on for what we know about what’s happened to Lucie and Desi Jr. over the years.
Birthday: July 17, 1951
Lucie Arnaz—Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s first child and only daughter—was born on July 17, 1951, six months before the premiere of I Love Lucy. Lucie was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, with her younger brother, Desi Arnaz Jr., but moved to New York City for a few years as preteen and teenager. Like her parents, Lucie was also an actor. She had walk-on roles on her mother’s I Love Lucy follow-up, The Lucy Show, which ran from 1962 to 1968, and made her acting debut in her mother’s next show, Here’s Lucy, which aired from 1968 to 1974. (Lucie played Kim Carter, the daughter of her mother’s character, Lucy.)
Lucie went on to star in projects like Who Is the Black Dahlia; Fantasy Island; Murder, She Wrote; Law & Order and Sons & Daughters, as well as her own CBS series, The Lucie Arnaz Show, which aired for one season on CBS in 1985. She also had her own talk show from 1985 to 1986. Lucie also had a successful theater career with roles in shows like Annie Get Your Gun, Broadway’s They’re Playing Our Song, The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True and The Witches of Eastwick. One of her most recent roles was as the character Berthe in Broadway’s Pippin in 2014. Lucie also made a cameo as a factory boss in Will & Grace‘s I Love Lucy-themed episode, titled “We Love Lucy,” in 2020.
Lucie married her first husband, actor Philip Vandervort Menegaux, on July 17, 1971. The two were together for almost five years until their divorce in April 1976. After her divorce, Lucie went on to marry her second husband, writer, Laurence Luckinbill, with whom she’s had three children: sons Simon and Joseph, and daughter Katharine. (Laurence also has two sons from a previous marriage, Nicholas and Benjamin.) Lucie and her family live in Palm Springs, California.
After her mother’s death on April 26, 1989, Lucie was named the executor of her trust, the Lucille Ball Morton Trust, and divided her estate between herself, her brother and Ball’a second husband, actor Gary Morton. (Ball and Morton married in 1961, a year after her divorce from Arnaz.) Five years after Ball’s death, Morton remarried with professional golfer, Susan McAllister. The two remained married for five years until Morton’s death in 1999. When he died, Morton left the personal items he inherited from Ball’s estate, including a Rolls-Royce, photographs and lifetime achievement awards, to McAllister, according to The Probate Lawyer Blog. According to the blog, many of the items, which also included love letters between Ball and Arnaz, were first passed to Lucie, but after Lucie didn’t claim them from Ball’s estate, she lost the items and they were inherited by Morton, who eventually passed them to McAllister after he died.
A decade after her husband’s death, McAllister placed the items up for sale at a Beverly Hills, California, auction house in 2010. When she learned of the sale, Lucie’s attorney threatened legal action to stop the auction; however, McAllister filed suit first to allow the auction to proceed. After a legal war between Lucie and McAllister, a judge ruled in Lucie’s favor. The judge granted Lucie a restraining order against McAllister on the condition that she post a $250,000 bond, which she couldn’t afford, so the sale moved forward. In the end, Lucie’s legal team was able to negotiate a resolution with the auction house, Heritage Auction Galleries, for the return of Ball’s lifetime achievement awards. Ball’s love letters to Arnaz, photographs and the Rolls-Royce, however, still went up for auction. According to the auction house’s website, the items earned more than $230,000. After the auction, Lucie’s attorney called the sales “demeaning” and “insulting” to Ball’s legacy. He also confirmed that Lucie planned to donate her mother’s lifetime achievement awards to a museum instead of sell them for profit.
Desi Arnaz Jr.
Birthday: January 19, 1953
Desi Arnaz Jr.—Lucille Ball and Desi Jr.’s second child and only son—was born on January 19, 1953. Like his older sister, Lucie Arnaz, Desi Jr. was born and raised in Los Angeles, but spent a few years in his preteens and teens in New York City. Desi Jr. was born during season three of I Love Lucy, which saw Ball’s pregnancy become a part of the storyline. The same day Ball gave birth to Desi Jr., an episode of I Love Lucy saw her character, Lucy Ricardo, give birth to a son called “Little Ricky.” Desi Jr. went on to appear on the cover of the first issue of TV Guide with the headline, “Lucy’s $50,000,000 baby,” equal to $487,280,702 now. The nickname came from the millions of dollars of sponsorship deals for dolls, comic books, cigarette lighters, aprons and more items Ball and Arnaz signed after the birth of their son, according to The I Love Lucy Book.
Richard Keith (whose real name is Keith Thibodeaux) played Little Ricky in I Love Lucy and became so close with Lucie and Desi Jr. on set that he even taught Desi Jr. how to play drums. When he was 12, Desi Jr. became a drummer for the band Dino, Desi, & Billy. The group released two hit singles, “I’m a Fool” and “Not the Lovin’ Kind,” in 1965. From 1968 to 1974, Desi Jr. co-starred with Lucie in their mother’s show, Here’s Lucy, as her children. In 1970, he made a guest appearance on The Brady Bunch. Desi Jr. went on to star in his first lead role in the 1973 movie musical, Marco, a biopic about adventurer Marco Polo, however the film wasn’t a hit at the box office. After Marco, Desi Jr. made appearances in movies and TV shows like Saturday Night Live, Joyride (opposite Melanie Griffith) and Automan. In 1992, he played his father in the movie The Mambo Kings, based on a 1989 novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, that features a cameo from Arnaz. The movie included a scene in which Desi Jr. plays his father’s I Love Lucy character, Ricky Ricardo, as he acts opposite Lucy Ricardo.
Desi Jr. welcomed his first child, a daughter named Julia Arnaz, with model Susan Callahan-Howe in 1968. Desi Jr. and Callahan-Howe were both 15 years old when they dated, and Julia’s relationship to Desi Jr. was proven by a paternity test in 1991. When he was 17 years old, he dated actress Patty Duke, who was six years older than him. Their relationship, which was a tabloid sensation at the time, wasn’t approved of by Ball. After Desi Jr.and Duke broke up, she went to marry music producer Michael Tell. After her marriage to Tell, which lasted 13 days, Duke became pregnant with her son, Sean Astin. She told her son that Desi Jr. was his father, and the two developed a close relationship. However, years later, genetic tests revealed that Tell was his real father.
Desi Jr. went on to date actress Liza Minelli, which Ball also didn’t approve of because of their seven-year age difference and Minelli’s reputation at the time. In 1979, Desi Jr. married his first wife, actress Linda Purl. The couple separated less than a year later in January 1980 and finalized their divorce later that year. Desi Jr. married his second wife, Amy Laura Bargiel, in October 8, 1987, with whom he had a daughter named Haley. The family lived in Boulder City, Nevada, until 2015 when Bargiel died of cancer at the age of 63.
After his father’s death on December 2, 1986, Desi Jr. and Lucie inherited most of his father’s estate. (Arnaz’s mother, who was 91 years old at the time, was also left $250,000.) According to the Associated Press, Arnaz’s will stated for his estate to be divided between Lucie and Desi Jr. equally. Per Celebrity Net Worth, Arnaz was worth $20 million at the time of his death.
Lucy and Desi is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Here’s how to watch it for free.
For more about Lucille Ball, read her autobiography, Love, Lucy. The book—which was published after Ball’s death in 1989 and is her only autobiography—follows the comedienne’s career and life, from her childhood in Jamestown, New York, to her dreams on Broadway and her marriage with Desi Arnaz. Written by Ball herself, the autobiography also includes intimate memories of her and Desi’s children, what led to the end of their marriage and how Ball found love again with her second husband, Gary Morton. Told in her own words, Love, Lucy is a must-read for anyone who loves Lucy.
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