‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball Said Desi Arnaz Would Have Fits of Anger and ‘Go to Pieces’

Lucille Ball is known for her marriage to Desi Arnaz almost as much as she’s known for starring in the hit show I Love Lucy. Here’s what she once said about Arnaz’s temper.

Lucille Ball said Desi Arnaz could be charming but unpredictable

In her book Love Lucy, Ball said she and Arnaz had their conflicts, but he could be charming. According to her, when things were good, he was kind and pleasant to be around. However, she said he also had a side to him that concerned her. Ball said Arnaz was always on the go and had trouble sitting still and spending time in one place.

“Desi would make sure that we were all comfortably at home, and then he’d disappear,” wrote Ball. “It was go, go, go all the time: to the golf links, to his new motel, the gambling tables, or his yacht.” Ball began to think she was the problem, so she asked Arnaz what she was doing wrong. However, Ball said he would react angrily.

“He stopped discussing any of our personal problems,” continued Ball. “I had to dig and dig to discover what caused his rages, and generally it had nothing to do with anything I’d done. I wanted to help him, find out where I was at fault. But as soon as I started questioning, he’d stalk angrily out of the room. Or the house.”

Lucille Ball said work stress would trigger Desi Arnaz

When work was stressful, Ball said Arnaz would get quite irritable. According to her, he would take his frustration out on her. She said his behavior at work was different from how he behaved at home.

When enough aggravation had accumulated, he’d blow his stack at home. At Desilu, he was the kindest, most considerate boss who ever lived. He agreed with me that creative people should be given a lot of leeway and shouldn’t have to account for every minute of their time.

If a talented writer seldom showed up before two in the afternoon, that was all right with Desi, providing he got his scripts done. But at home, one button off a shirt could make Desi go to pieces.

The incident that made Desi Arnaz furious

Ball said Arnaz lost his temper after their newly renovated home was ruined. They spent a lot of time and money redecorating the home, so he had trouble containing his anger when he saw what happened.

“During the night, the water pipes in the eighteen-year-old house had burst,” wrote Ball. “The thick white wall-to-wall carpet was a stained, sodden mess; the wallpaper was streaked, the newly plastered walls were disintegrating.”

Arnaz was furious when he saw the damage. Ball said she had never seen him this angry.

Desi really flipped. As the children huddled against me in terror, he ranted, raged, stormed, kicked the walls, and then began tearing them down with his bare hands. ‘Come, dears,’ DeDe told the babies, ‘Your father is rehearsing,’ and she bundled them out of the place.

I had never seen Desi in such a state. I was terrified he was going to seriously hurt himself. I realized for the first time how the strain of our snowballing empire was eating away at him.

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