November 30: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Marry in Greenwich


Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, two of the most famous entertainers in the history of American television, first met in 1940, over a decade before their mega-hit sitcom I Love Lucy first aired. Ball, already well-known as a model and Broadway actress, and Arnaz, a popular Cuban bandleader, met on the set of Too Many Girls, a film adaptation of a Broadway musical in which they were co-stars. They began a relationship they kept secret from virtually everyone, including their agents, for nearly a year before deciding to elope and spare themselves the expense and exposure of a celebrity wedding.

On November 30, 1940, Desi Arnaz was scheduled to play two shows at the Roxy Nightclub in New York City. That morning, Arnaz called the manager of the Roxy and informed him that he would be unable to make the first performance because he was getting married that afternoon. The couple had decided to tie the knot over the state line in Greenwich, Connecticut, since they had heard that the waiting period to obtain a marriage license was shorter than that of New York State. Still, they were surprised to find that Connecticut still mandated a five-day waiting period to obtain a marriage license, unless a judge provided the couple with a special waiver. Fortunately for Ball and Arnaz, Judge Harold Knapp of Greenwich was willing to do just that, and that afternoon the two were married at the Byram River Beagle Club on the shores of the Byram River. (Many years later, Lucy and Desi’s fictional alter egos on “I Love Lucy” would also get married at the Byram River Beagle Club in Greenwich.)

Later that evening, the newlyweds drove back to New York City so Arnaz could perform his scheduled evening gig at the Roxy nightclub. Before the performance, the groom carried his bride over the threshold of his dressing room door — a portent of the wild success the two would later have together as co-stars of “I Love Lucy,” one of the most beloved television shows of the 20th century.

Further Reading

For Lucy and Desi, Honeymoon Began in Greenwich,” CT Post