Update on the children of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
At home in Fairfield County, Conn., Lucie Arnaz, 59, is energetically promoting her new Latin Roots CD, scheduling performance and speaking engagements, and reaping accolades for Babalu, her onstage tribute to the music of her father, Desi Arnaz Sr.
More than 2,000 miles away in Boulder City, Nev. (pop. 14,966), Lucie's brother, Desi Jr., 58, busily oversees the downtown theater that he purchased in 1998 and painstakingly transformed into an elegant live performing arts venue. The Historic Boulder Theatre is the home of the nonprofit Boulder City Ballet Company founded by his wife, Amy.
As the grown children of television's most celebrated husband-and-wife comedy team, Lucie and Desi Jr. are divided by geography but are closer than ever, building successful lives in the ever-present shadow of their famous parents, Lucille Ball and Desi Sr.
Their late parents would be proud of them, says Wanda Clark, Ball's personal secretary for 27 years. "Every time I see Lucie or Desi Jr., I can almost see Lucy and their father in my mind, smiling," says Clark, 76, of Disney, Okla.
Ball and Arnaz captivated audiences as Ricky and Lucy Ricardo for 194 episodes of I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour from 1951 to 1960, forever changing TV's landscape and still entertaining viewers throughout the world via syndicated reruns in dozens of languages. They built a TV empire at Desilu Productions, which employed more than 2,000 people at its peak and produced dozens of other popular shows.
Lucie and Desi Jr. learned early about living life in fame's spotlight as tour buses rumbled past their home in the same Beverly Hills, Calif., neighborhood where Jack Benny and Jimmy Stewart lived. Their personal playground was Desilu's studios in nearby Hollywood, where Desi Jr. climbed catwalks and Lucie shyly hid under the bleachers while audiences watched I Love Lucy being filmed live. The series began after their parents already had enjoyed successful music and film careers.
"Mom and Dad intentionally did I Love Lucy in order to have a life" that did not require extensive travel, Desi Jr. says. "They actually came home at night."