‘I Love Lucy’: Why Vivian Vance Left Lucille Ball’s ‘The Lucy Show’

by Madison Miller
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Vivian Vance played Lucille Ball’s absolute best friend and ride-or-die on “I Love Lucy.”

Lucy and Ethel were inseparable. When Lucy and Ricky decided to move to the country near the end of the series, Lucy cried at the thought of being away from her beloved friend.

Eventually, Ethel and Fred once again became their neighbors out in the country. When “I Love Lucy” came to an end in 1957, “The Lucy Show” would later premiere from 1962 to 1968.

While it wasn’t quite at the same level as “I Love Lucy,” it brought some beloved actors back together. In proper “I Love Lucy” fashion, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance’s characters were absolutely inseparable. The two were friends in real life. Vance was by her side after Ball and Desi Arnaz divorced and “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour” came to an end.

However, Vivian Vance was only in the first three seasons as the co-star. She played Vivian “Viv” Bagley, Lucy Carmichael’s divorced friend.

Lucy and Vivian on ‘The Lucy Show’

So, why did one of the most dynamic and powerful duos in television history separate three seasons into “The Lucy Show?”

According to Closer Weekly, things came to an end due to some poor negotiation that took place. During the beginning of the show, Desi Arnaz still ran part of Desilu Studios. However, Lucille Ball bought him out and others were put in his old position to help out. Apparently, some people claimed that Vance wanted more money and to be a full partner on the show. Ball didn’t believe them but had negotiations cut off.

“Nothing they told her was true. Vivian did want script input. She’s worked with Lucy for 14 years and was, like, ‘You know, guys, I know what I’m doing here. I know this character. Let me clue you in on what she will and won’t do.’ She just wanted to make the character consistent. Also, she filmed I Love Lucy in the beginning for $250 a week — which grew much higher as the years went on — and was asking for what everybody else on television who was a co-star on a show was getting. But all of this got turned down and she left the show,” said Geoffrey Mark, the author of “The Lucy Book.”

Nothing was really sour about the interaction. Vance even came back eventually to be a guest star on the show again. She even was a part of Lucille Ball’s future shows. They never really let anyone put a wedge between their personal and professional relationship.

While Lucy and Desi were an iconic couple, nothing really matched the friendship Lucy and Vivan could portray on the screen.

Argument on ‘I Love Lucy’ Set

Since the two were close friends for decades, obviously, there were small arguments and disagreements over the years.

In her autobiography, “Love, Lucy,” Lucille Ball talks about her relationship with Vivian Vance.

Ball explained that the two had an argument on the set and were not speaking. It was an hour before the performance and the duo was sitting in silence. Usually, that time was spent listening to each other’s lines and making suggestions. Eventually, Ball blurted out a suggestion or interpretation she had.

Vance asked why she didn’t say something earlier.

“’Well, we weren’t speaking, and I’d be damned if I’d tell you!’ Our eyes met in the mirror and we collapsed into laughter. We could never stay cross with each other for very long,” Lucille Ball wrote.

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