Happy 106th birthday to Vivian Vance!
On July 26, 1909, Vivian Jones was born in Cherryvale, Kansas. By 1932, she had assumed the name Vance and begun work on Broadway, after a stint in the Albuquerque theater scene. After being seen in the play The Voice of the Turtle
, Vance was plucked to play Ethel Mertz, Lucy's elder landlady on I Love Lucy (though she was really just two years older). The rest, as they say, is history.
To celebrate the birthday of the legendary comedic thespian, here are 5 fascinating facts about Vivian Vance.
• Vance was the first actress to win the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress.
• In 1957, Desi Arnaz offered Vance a spin-off of I Love Lucy focusing on the Mertzes. Vance turned it down. Instead, she filmed a pilot called Guestward, Ho! It was rejected by CBS. One executive noted, "I kept waiting for Lucy to come in."
• Her character of Vivian Bagley on The Lucy Show (1962–1965) was the first divorcee ever depicted on a weekly American television series.
• She later appeared in the Blake Edwards film The Great Race (1965), alongside Peter Falk. Costing $12 million, it was the most expensive comedy ever made at the time.
• She was the godmother of Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian — who wrote and sang the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter!
Catch Vance on I Love Lucy every weekday morning at 7:30AM/6:30C on MeTV.