‘I Love Lucy’: What was Ethel Mertz Actress Vivian Vance’s Net Worth at Her Death?

by Jon D. B.

With her career alongside Lucille Ball lasting decades in itself, ‘I Love Lucy’s Ethel Mertz would amass a substantial fortune during her lifetime. Yet how much was the beloved actress and singer worth at her death?

Entertainment icon Vivian Vance felt a part of the family for generations of Americans. The world would never forget her name after she became Lucy’s best friend, Ethel Mertz, in ‘I Love Lucy’. The two were, after all, the closest of friends in real life.

From her work on television’s “gold standard” show, Vance would go on to star in several more shows with Lucille Ball. She would also win a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Series Supporting Actress, hold a successful Hollywood film career, and earn her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

After such a fruitful life, Vivian Vance would pass away on August 17, 1979. The icon tragically lost her fight with bone cancer at 70-years-old.

As for the net worth of such a remarkable career, Vivian Vance would leave behind a net worth of $10 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Fellow Golden-Era television icon Bob Denver would pass with a similar net worth. Gilligan of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ died in 2005 with a net worth sitting at $20 million.

And 98-year-old Hollywood treasure Betty White currently holds a remarkable $75 million net worth.

Comparatively, film legend John Wayne held nearly $50 million to spread between the Duke’s seven children. 

Amassing a Fortune: ‘I Love Lucy’s Vivian Vance

For Vance, much of her success came alongside Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Best known as Ethel Mertz in ‘I Love Lucy,’ Vance would inhabit the role for a full decade. From 1951 to 1957, she would co-star as Ethel in ‘I Love Lucy‘. She would then reprise the role from 1957 to 1960 for ‘The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.’

In addition, Vance came back with Ball as a part of her and Arnaz’ studio return: ‘The Lucy Show’. Here, both iconic women took on new roles, with Vivian Vance using her first name as Vivian Bagley. The show ran from 1962 to 1968, even though it was only intended to last one season. She would continue as Vivian into ‘Here’s Lucy’ from 1968 to 1972, proving her lasting power with audiences and studios alike.

Congruently, she would star in films “The Secret Fury, The Blue Veil, and The Great Race,” Celebrity Net Worth continues of her remarkable career. In fact, Vance rose to prominence in the industry with films such as “Anything Goes, The Cradle Will Rock, Don’t Drink the Water, The Time of the Cuckoo, Barefoot in the Park, Arsenic and Old Lace, and more,” placing her in the public eye well before being immortalized as Ethel Mertz.