‘I Love Lucy’: The Heartbreaking Story of How Lucille Ball Bid Farewell to Her Co-Star Vivian Vance for the Last Time

by Matthew Wilson
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“I Love Lucy” stars Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance had their ups and downs during their careers. They feuded at times and bickered. But they formed one of TV’s great comedy duos. But every worthwhile journey must also eventually end.

In 1979, Lucille Ball came to Belvedere, California with a solemn task. She had to say goodbye to her good friend Vivian Vance for the final time. Vance knew that she didn’t have long left to live and wanted to see Ball one more time. There would be plenty of laughter and tears.

By that point in time, Vance was dying from advanced bone cancer. Doctors had initially diagnosed Vance with breast cancer. In an attempt to save her life, Vance had a mastectomy performed. She also underwent chemotherapy in an attempt to kill the cancer. But the cancer had spread despite the efforts to save her life.

Paige Peterson was the daughter of Vance’s landlord. Similar to an Ethel Mertz and Lucy Ricardo situation, Peterson grew close to Vance in her final days. The actor had moved from New York to Belvedere, California to spend her final days in relative peace.

In an interview with People Magazine, Peterson discussed what Ball’s final farewell to Vivian Vance was like.

“You could hear them laughing, and towards the end there was a lot of sobbing,” Peterson told the outlet. The memory stands out in her mind, even now “It was an amazing thing to witness. The love of these two women.”

Lucille Ball Said Goodbye to Vivian Vance

Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball first starred in “I Love Lucy” together. But they later went on to star in a number of projects together including “The Lucy Show” as well. Peterson broke down what the final meeting between the two was like.

“We had brought Viv down and she was lying on the couch in the living room. They ate lunch and they talked and talked. Viv knew she was dying,” Peterson said. For the most part, she left the two stars alone. Peterson stayed in a nearby room in case Vance needed her. But she remembers how Vance looked when Ball left. “The pain on her face shook me to my core. She was in tears. She couldn’t speak. I think Viv gave up after that.”

As for Lucille Ball, the grief was also inconsolable. She grieved for months after Vance died, according to Ball’s daughter Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill.

“She cried about losing Viv for months after that,” she told the outlet. “Viv was, in many ways, like a sister to my mother. She could talk to Mom like nobody else, and I don’t think my mother could confide in many people the way she would with Viv.”

Vivian Vance died on August 17, 1979.

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