Vivian Vance

9 Mar

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Vivian Roberta Jones  was born July 26, 1909 in Cherryvale, Kansas. She and her family soon moved to Independence, Kansas and she went to Independence High School where she developed a love of acting. Her mom wasn’t thrilled about this so Viv rebelled, changed her last name to Vance and moved to Albuquerque, NM to become an actress performing at the  Albuquerque Little Theater- something Viv and Ethel have in common! Eventually graduating up to Broadway and Hollywood.

ILL director Marc Daniels suggested Vance to play the part of Ethel but we all know Ball was lobbying for her friends Bea Benaderet or Barbara Pepper. When those gals didn’t work out, the crew went to the La Jolla Playhouse to see Vance in action. Arnaz was convinced and Vance got the part.(Pepper would be seen as bit players throughout the run of the series.)

Ethel was supposed to be much older than Lucy but Vance was only older than Ball by a couple years. She was dressed as much dowdier in response which Vance didn’t love. She also ‘joked’ that it was in her contract to stay 10 lbs heavier than Ball. In addition, her love counterpart, William Frawley was 22 years older than Vance and she hated that he was old enough to play her father. Rumor has it that Frawley heard Vance complaining about him which was the root of their notorious contention. Some say it was just hate at first sight. Vance and Frawley were offered a spinoff show but declined simply because of how much they detested each other.

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Whether or not Vance was contractually obligated to be homelier than Ball, the two remained life long friends, playing her BFF on Here’s Lucy and The Lucy Show.

Vance, who honestly was beauty and a talent, was married four times. First to Joseph Shearer Danneck Jr from 10/6/28-4/20-1931. George Koch 1/6/33-7/11/1910. Philip Ober (who guest starred on an ep of ILL) from 8/12/1941-4/24/1959 and finally to John Dodds 1/16/1961 till her death in 1979.

In her later years, Vance suffered from poor health. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a stroke. Ultimately her cause of death was bone cancer and she passed on August 17, 1979.

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During her lifetime, Vance was the first person to win the Emmy for the Best Supporting Actress in 1954 for her role on ILL, which was donated to the Albuquerque Little Theater after her death.







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