For decades, there have been rumors surrounding the friendship of Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance from I Love Lucy. Fans of the legendary sitcom thought the two had some sort of ongoing feud. But in a recent interview, classic Hollywood podcaster Ben Mankiewicz put those rumors to rest.
Vivian Vance played Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy. On-screen, she was Lucy’s best friend. And her character offered just as much comedic relief as the star of the show. But fans thought the two hated each other off-screen. People believed that Lucy and Vivian couldn’t put their egos aside and share the limelight. But in reality, they did. Otherwise, the series wouldn’t have lasted for nearly six years. And Lucy wouldn’t have asked Vivian to star in her following sitcoms, The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy.
The specific rumors speculated that the two didn’t get along because Lucy made up Vivian’s character to look less attractive so Lucy could shine. And Ben Mankiewicz, who hosts the showbiz podcast The Plot Thickens, knew more about the actress’ relationship.
And if anyone would know the ins and outs of I Love Lucy, it would be Mankiewicz. He’s not just the voice of The Plot Thickens. He’s also a film critic who hosts Turner Classic Movies. And he’s the grandson of Herman J. Mankiewicz, who was the co-writer of Citizen Kane.
“Vivian Vance was beautiful also, which Lucy didn’t love,” Mankiewicz told KCM. ” It’s hard to be a beautiful actress and then make yourself less attractive, and then have another beautiful actress come in. But they dowdied both of them up, so I don’t make much of that.”
If There Was Drama on the Set of ‘I Love Lucy,’ It Wasn’t Between Lucy and Vivian
Mankiewicz said that if there was any drama with the I Love Lucy castmates, another actor was causing it.
“Most of the tension on that set, to the extent there was tension, revolved around William Frawley [who played Fred Mertz],” he continued. “Vance didn’t like Frawley. Nobody liked him, it seems.”
And the I Love Lucy spinoffs were further proof that the stars got along. If Lucy and Vivian really carried around hard feelings, they never would have been able to work together for 21 years.
“But the fact that Vance is back on Lucy’s later shows [1962’s The Lucy Show and 1968’s Here’s Lucy] indicates everything that’s important to know about that friendship,” he said. “Whatever might have been between them, they got beyond it, and they were close. Lucy had her pick of actors to bring in on her later shows, and bringing in Vance suggests that she understood Vance made the shows better.”