‘I Love Lucy’: Despite ‘Artistic Differences’, Lucille Ball Always ‘Thought the World’ of Vivian Vance

by Joe Rutland
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Never let anyone think Lucille Ball didn’t have a love for “I Love Lucy” costar Vivian Vance. They had differences, but the love was real.

The topic of Ball’s relationship with Vance comes up during a 2018 Fox News interview with authors David Fantle and Tom Johnson. They wrote “Hollywood Heyday,” a book with 70-plus interviews both men did with actors from Hollywood’s golden age.

Fantle said Ball “thought the world of Vivian.”

Vance’s Biggest ‘I Love Lucy’ Issues Were With William Frawley

“Maybe there were some artistic differences on the show,” he said. “The biggest artistic difference in the show was really between Vivian Vance and William Frawley (on-screen husband Fred Mertz). They were at each other all the time.”

Fantle also said that “Vivian and Lucy were pretty much close in age, but they purposely made Vivian look frumpier and Lucy a little more glamorous.” That was during their time on the popular CBS situation comedy.

“But Lucy worked with Vivian for many years, not just in ‘I Love Lucy’ but in some of those subsequent TV shows Lucille did,” Fantle said. “She had nothing but adulation for Vivian when we were with her.”

Vivian Vance Would Always Be A Part of Ball’s World

Vance played a co-starring role on “The Lucy Show,” which was Ball’s first TV comedy after “I Love Lucy.” She was a regular for a few seasons but found commuting between her home on the East Coast and Hollywood put a strain on her marriage.

She left as a regular, but made guest-starring appearances on that show and “Here’s Lucy.” Ball, for nearly all of her career, had her TV shows on CBS. Ball’s final attempt at situation comedy, “Life with Lucy,” flopped on ABC.

By the time “Life with Lucy” aired, Vivian Vance had died. Vance died on Aug. 17, 1979, of breast cancer at 70 years old. Ball died on April 26, 1989, at 77 years old.

Their on-screen chemistry in “I Love Lucy” is something that many comedic actors watch and take note of for themselves. Ball and Vance’s work remains a part of television lore.

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