Desiree Anzalone, great-granddaughter of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, and her tragic fate

Lucille Ball may have been gone for three decades – but she is still remembered and loved by so many.

As the top comedic actress in the 1950s, she rose to fame with the TV show I Love Lucy,  co-starring on the show with her husband, Desi Arnaz.

Prior to finding fame on the small screen, she had started her career as a model and film actress and by the end of her career had starred in over 70 movies.

Lucille Ball’s legacy continued to live on in many ways, and her great-granddaughter bore a striking resemblance to her iconic great-grandmother.

Sadly, 31-year-old Desiree Anzalone lost her life in a very sad way in 2020.

Cuban-born American actor Desi Arnaz hugging his wife, American actress Lucille Ball on the set of the TV series I Love Lucy. 1950s. (Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images)

I Love Lucy catapulted Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz into fame, and the show made history in many ways. It was one of the first to be filmed in front of a live audience, and it paved the way for many other popular sitcoms.

Lucille Ball was married twice and had two children. In 1940, she tied the knot with Desi Arnaz, with whom she starred in I Love Lucy. The couple had two children, named Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr.

Desi Arnaz Jr’s birth was one of the most publicized in television history but being the son of two superstars wasn’t easy. He has previously admitted that he partied hard while growing up in Hollywood in the 1950s and 60s.

The child of two wildly famous television actors, he was surrounded by temptation and pressure. In fact, he became a father at the young age of 15.

Though he did not have a relationship with his daughter Julia until about 20 years later, Arnaz Jr. made an effort to be there for his granddaughter, Desiree Anzalone, to make up for his previous absence. 

Arnaz Jr. was rocketed into fame with his birth when his mother, star Lucille Ball, gave birth to him the same night her titular I Love Lucy character did in a pre-recorded episode

It was a groundbreaking moment as up until that point CBS had insisted that you couldn’t show a pregnant woman on television.

The baby grew into a teenager surrounded by Hollywood royalty until he eventually became a teen idol himself on his parents’ other venture, Here’s Lucy.

It was around this time he met the model Susan Callahan-Howe, the mother of his eventual daughter. Desi Jr. and Susan met when they were only 15 years old. But Desi Jr. and his daughter Julia spent years apart until they were reunited in the 90s.

Sadly, that was after Lucille passed, so Julia never met her iconic grandmother.

Callahan, who sadly died of COVID-19 in 2020, spent years telling her daughter that her father was famous. Julia eventually decided to prove it years later, by a paternity test in 1991.

”We did a DNA test when I was 20, and it came back 99.97% that I was indeed his daughter and then shortly after that my father and I started a beautiful relationship,” Julia told Page Six and added:

”By this time, I’m 18 and over. He could have said, ‘Yeah she’s my kid, whatever. But he didn’t. He helped me very much through my life and helped my daughter through college.”

That daughter was Desiree Anzalone, who Julia explained her father became close with as well. She went on to explain that they spent much time together and that Desiree even lived with Arnaz Jr. for a period of time.

Julia also named her daughter in honor of her Emmy Award-winning grandmother Lucille – the actress’ middle name was Desiree.

Desiree worked as a photographer with a degree in creative writing from the University of North Texas.

At the age of 25, the young woman was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, according to People.

Anzalone underwent a double mastectomy and went into remission briefly before her cancer returned, spreading to her lungs, liver, and bones.

Sadly, Desiree’s life ended tragically in 2020.

Julia Arnaz had to deal with her own mother dying of COVID-19 while her daughter suffered through stage 4 breast cancer during the 2020 pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 kept us apart, so I wasn’t able to see her as much as I usually do because she was compromised and I didn’t want her getting sick in any kind of way,” Julia told People. “So I wasn’t able to spend as much time with her as I normally do because of the COVID since March. I mean, I saw her, but not as much; we’d hang out every day practically she was here. Plus, she lived with me for a while.”

In May 2021, Julia Arnaz told Page Six that she was determined to work as an activist to help other young women prevent such quick advancement of the disease that took her daughter’s life.

She has committed to expanding mammogram coverage in her home state of Connecticut. While these are typically recommended as regular exams for older women, Arnaz hopes to advocate for younger women to begin them sooner rather than later. 

“Those four or five months, it’s a huge difference,” she explained. “And this beautiful angel, my daughter…so many young women might say, ‘Ah it’s a cyst, no big deal.’ But she really advocated for herself and I encourage other young women to do this.”

After her daughter’s tragic death, Julia Arnaz has continued to get her voice heard about this issue in the media and raise awareness. 

“It’s just not talked about a lot. It’s usually people in their late 30s, 40s, 50s — not somebody at this age,” Julia Arnaz explained in People. “So that was something that she really wanted — to help other women like her. A preventative, really.”

RIP beautiful angel!