Lucille Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, once recalled the advice “I Love Lucy” costar Vivian Vance gave to her as she continued in her career.
“Vivian Vance would say to me, ‘Listen: When you get a chance, you’ve got to get back to the theatre. I know you love the theatre. Get back to live performing. Don’t let that lapse,'” Arnaz says in a 2013 interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine. “So I’d go audition every chance I got for summer stock.”
Vance had a long working relationship and friendship with Arnaz’s mother, Lucille Ball. After all, Ball and Vance starred in “I Love Lucy” as Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz, respectively.
‘I Love Lucy’ Star Cast Her Longtime Costar in ‘The Lucy Show’
When Ball started up her second sitcom “The Lucy Show” in 1962, she immediately cast Vance as Vivian Bagley in a co-starring role. But Vance would not stay with the show, leaving the full-time cast in 1965. Now she did make guest appearances on that sitcom in 1967 and 1968.
Ball ended “The Lucy Show” in 1968 and moved along to her third sitcom, “Here’s Lucy.” Vance made six guest appearances during that show’s six-season run. While Ball and Vance would appear on the TV together, sometimes the magic both had on “I Love Lucy” didn’t always replicate itself.
Yet Ball remained close to Vance whether she was on or off her shows. Vance died on Aug. 17, 1979, at 70 years old.
Ball made one final trip before her longtime friend died in 1979. She visited Vance, who was dying from bone cancer.
Before Vance Died in 1979, Ball Made One Final Trip to Visit Her Friend
The “I Love Lucy” costars got together for some laughs and a few tears.
Paige Peterson, daughter of Vance’s landlord, grew close to Vance in her final days. Vance moved from New York to Belvedere, Calif. In an interview with People Magazine, Peterson talked about Ball meeting up with Vance.
“You could hear them laughing, and towards the end, there was a lot of sobbing,” Peterson says. “It was an amazing thing to witness. The love of these two women.”
Vance was married four times, with John Dodds, whom she married in 1961, outliving her.
“I Love Lucy” remains a popular classic TV show and has been seen in reruns for decades. The antics between Ball and Vance, from the chocolate factory assembly line to getting caught in a flooded shower, remain ones people laugh at today.
Vivian Vance made her mark on comedy with Ball, Desi Arnaz, and William Frawley. She will be remembered forever thanks to her connection with Lucille Ball.