Celebrate the life, career and friendship of Vivian Vance in pictures

The television legend was born on this day 110 years ago.

Born on July 26, 1909, in Kansas, Vivian Jones bolted for Albuquerque, New Mexico, shortly after high school to pursue acting. There, she changed her surname to Vance. Like her longtime friend and onscreen partner Lucille Ball, Vance worked her way up from Broadway to film before becoming a television star.

Vance will forever be associated with Ball, as she worked alongside her BFF for nearly three decades, from I Love Lucy to The Lucy Show to Here's Lucy. But Vivian was her own unique talent. On what would have been her 110th birthday, let's look back at this legend.

Smooch Operator

The Everett Collection

Vivian Vance gives the cast of Northwestern University's New Waa-Mu Show real instruction on the art of kissing, March 11, 1939.

Old School Glamour

The Everett Collection

Gives her best Marlene Dietrich pose in the 1930s.

Maybe That's Where Lucy Got the Look?

The Everett Collection

Vance sported a rather Ball-like doo for The Cradle Will Rock in 1947.

Her Serious Side

The Everett Collection

Vance poses dramatically in the 1950s.

Cute as a button — or 13

The Everett Collection

Vance shows of her fashion sense in 1955.


The Everett Collection

Vance and Ball goof around in their wardrobe for the 1956 episode "Lucy Gets a Paris Gown."

Women at Work

The Everett Collection

These two indeed put in their work together, as seen in this 1964 episode.

Car Trouble

The Everett Collection

We adore this photo.

Rhoda Scholar

The Everett Collection

Valerie and Vivian, two icons together. Vance made one of her final appearances in the Rhoda episode "Friends and Mothers" in 1975.

A Bicycle Built for Three

The Everett Collection

Vance, Ball and Betty Grable pose for "Lucy Wins a Race Horse" in 1958.

Life's a Beach

The Everett Collection

Fred MacMurray of My Three Sons (top center) joins the gang for an episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. The title? "Lucy Hunts Uranium."

Fabray Softener

AP Photo/Ed Widdis

In 1957, the ninth annual Emmys big grins to Vance and Nanette Fabray. Both were nominated that year.

A True Genii-us

AP Photo

Ball and Vance pose as Ball presents the 1964 Genii Award to her longtime friend and costar, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Lucille was a past winner of the award, voted by Radio and Television Women. The annual award was based on a star's contribution to the radio and TV industry and her qualities as a person.

Once More for Old Times' Sake

The Everett Collection

Vance's penultimate screen role reunited her with Ball for the 1977 TV special Lucy Calls the President. Her final appearance came in the Mark Harmon police-dog series Sam. Vance passed away in 1979.

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Lucyneenah19701 59 months ago
I Love Lucy is my favorite T.V. Show!
Lantern 59 months ago
A little-known fact: Vivian Vance was the godmother of John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful. John's mother Jane Sebastian was a good friend of Vivian's. The name "Jane Sebastian" was used at least a couple of times as a minor character on I Love Lucy (one of the women's club members).
Jacqueline05478 Lantern 59 months ago
Thanks for sharing.
stephaniestavropoulos 59 months ago
Lucy and Vivian weren't always friends. If I remember right, I think Desi went and saw a play Vivan was in {sans Lucy, I don't recall whom he went with.} He went backstage to meet her, and it was there he invited her to come to the studio and try out for ILL. If I remember right, Lucy did not know Desi went and saw Vivian. So, naturally, the next day she was surprised to see Vivian at the studio. Once she found out why she was there, Lucy's response was: "She's too pretty to be a landlord. Only the main star should be attractive." A A reporter asked "What it's going to be like to work with that bitch." Vivian responded: "If that show is a success, I'm going to learn to love that female dog." Fortunately, Vivian didn't have to force herself to I Love Lucy, the love, friendship and respect they had for each other came naturally. Happy 110th Viv!
Yes, i think we've all heard the story of how Vance was required to be 20 pounds overweight because Lucy was jealous!
Barry22 cperrynaples 59 months ago
That wasn't Lucy's doing, that was Desi's idea.
Pacificsun cperrynaples 59 months ago
Myths are easy to perpetuate. Actually VV was expected to look not as glamorous as Lucille Ball, or as indeed the above pictures demonstrated how she could be! It was after all, just TV, and the idea of the show was to connect with the audience! Everyday kind of people, getting into funny predicaments, and (most of all) demonstrating friendship. That was the real focus. In Hollywood there was (is) a difference between starving yourself for an incredible figure in those glamor gowns, or a natural physique. If you look closely at her clothes, the costuming didn't reveal her figure. But your eye fell to her "average" waist and flared out at the bottom. The illusion of being more "frumpy" than she ever was.
I never knew the full story, thanks.
Jacqueline05478 Pacificsun 59 months ago
Yes, the clothes didn't do her any good, most of the time. Even when she "dressed/glamored up." she never had the most flattering clothes.
Pacificsun cperrynaples 42 months ago
In any day really (not just then) television shows weren't popularity contests. Nobody had to "like" their fellow workers. But they did need to fulfill a character's role. The idea (concept) was to play off of busy-body like neighbors and (perhaps) grumpy landlords. Wouldn't be likely that William Frawley would be married to a starlet, so (being a consummate professional) Ms. Vance adapted perfectly to "Ethel" and in doing so made a name for herself! Fans always forget, that these roles were offered to working actors, who just needed to connect one "job" to the next!
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