Married ... With a TV Show

Here's a look at some Hollywood couples who have put marriage to one of the most unforgiving tests -- living and working together. Some went well, and a few are legendary disasters.

20 Years: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
TV lovers will always remember zany Lucy stuffing chocolates in her mouth as they sped down the conveyor belt. She was the "Vitameatavegamin Girl," the crazy lady who staggered into the subway with a trophy stuck over her head, and the whining housewife, perpetually crying "Ricky!" as if it were a four-syllable word.

But Ball should also be remembered as a trailblazer. In 1940, when the then-blonde starlet married the 23-year-old Cuban refugee-turned-conga player, he was six years her junior. TV executives feared this multiethnic marriage was not ready for primetime, so the couple eventually formed Desilu productions, giving them unprecedented control over their careers. Desilu later bought RKO, making Lucy the first female head of a Hollywood studio.

In truth, the lighthearted domestic bliss of "I Love Lucy" didn't reflect their marriage, and that's not just because the show depicted them sleeping in separate beds, far enough apart to park a Hummer.

Long before the show hit the air in 1951, Ball had filed for divorce. She never signed the papers, and they were remarried, prompting Groucho Marx to send a congratulatory telegram that read, "What's New?"

We can thank Lucy and Desi for reruns. They proposed the practice to stay on the air while she was pregnant with Desi Arnaz Jr. (and her character was pregnant with Little Ricky). This was at a time when network censors wouldn't permit actors to say "pregnant." Rather, they had to say "expecting," or as Ricky Ricardo would say, "e'spectin!" The birth of Little Ricky was a TV event, watched by a then-record 44 million people.

The couple's 20-year union came to an end in 1960, after they wrapped production on their second show together, "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour." Lucy married Garry Morton, Desi served as executive producer on "The Lucy Show," but rarely performed.

35 Years: Barbara Bain and Martin Landau
In a classic example of the problem of bringing marriage to work, Barbara Bain was forced to leave "Mission: Impossible," shortly after becoming the first actress to win three consecutive Emmys, for her portrayal of the show's femme fatale Cinnamon Carter.

Producers got into a contract squabble with her husband, Martin Landau. She was fired, and the two fled to Britain to star in the short-lived TV series "Space: 1999."

After two seasons in polyester uniforms that even "Star Trek" extras would chuckle at, Bain and Landau hit on rough times. In 1983, they soon found themselves marooned in "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island," and a few years later, they were divorced.

Landau returned to prominence with three Oscar nominations, including a win for his turn as Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood." But Bain's TV and film work has since been scant, and she complained to People magazine in 1996 that the "Mission Impossible" controversy unfairly left her with a reputation as "a pain in the ass."

38 Years: George Burns and Gracie Allen
In 1922, when they started in vaudeville, George Burns had the funny lines and Gracie Allen played it straight. But George found that Gracie got more laughs, and rewrote the act. It was around that time he fell in love with his partner, even though she was engaged to another man.

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