‘The Lucy Show’: Vivian Vance Once Set the Record Straight About Her Off-Screen Relationship With Lucille Ball on Her Radio Show

by Joe Rutland

In the world of classic TV, one team that you cannot dislodge from the history books is Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance of The Lucy Show. Obviously, both actresses were stars in the Ball-Desi Arnaz sitcom I Love Lucy. Ball and Vance would continue to work together in The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour in their Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz roles.

Those would change, though, to Lucy Carmichael and Vivian Bagley in The Lucy Show. It marked Ball’s first sitcom work after her divorce from Arnaz. Vance would appear for a period of time before moving back to Connecticut to live full-time. Still, she would appear as a guest star in later episodes of The Lucy Show. With all of this time together, some fans might wonder if they really were friends in real life.

Vance would have a couple of words to say about it. In the 1960s, Let’s Talk To Lucy was a radio show Ball hosted where she would talk with many different stars. Well, this time we would hear Ball while she visits the movie set of the 1965 Tony Curtis flick The Great Race. Vance also appeared in the movie and was there for work.

Vivian Vance of ‘The Lucy Show’ Confirms That She, Lucille Ball Are ‘Good Friends’

“Yes, ladies and gentlemen of Lucy’s radio audience, we are good friends on and off the screen,” Vance said of her co-star on The Lucy Show. “I think it would be impossible, when you come to think about it and how many years you’ve seen us working together on television. I don’t think it’s possible for people who aren’t good friends to work this long. Do you really, Lucille? I couldn’t do it.”

Ball replied, “I think they find it hard to believe that we can really, honestly say that we like each other as much as you and I do. But I think that’s because they’re not aware of the respect that we have for each other. Not just in work, but as women.” Vance said, “And in our work. I think both ways, Lucy. I think. There is no love without respect. That I have found out that’s absolutely true. Unless one respects one, one cannot really love them.”

Here’s a video of both Ball and Vance, along with Gale Gordon, in a song-and-dance act from a Here’s Lucy episode in the early 1970s. The last time they worked together was in a 1977 CBS special titled Lucy Calls the President. Sadly, Vance would die in 1979 after suffering from breast cancer. Their work together remains one of the highlights when watching old-school sitcoms. Vance’s name should go up there with other stars who were sidekicks on shows.