''The Lucy Show'' was Lucille Ball's television comeback that almost didn't happen
Even though CBS gave Ball great offers to do the show, Vivian Vance is why the comeback happened.
After the series finale of I Love Lucy in 1957, viewers thought they'd never see Lucille Ball as the loveable character on their television screens again. The actress spent time on Broadway and in successful motion pictures during her television hiatus. In 1962, she returned as Lucy in The Lucy Show, but there were a few changes.
The character's last name was no longer Ricardo, it was Carmichael, and she was a widow with two children. Vivian Vance's character, Ethel Mertz, was now named Vivian Bagley, and she was divorced with one child. The new change made this highly anticipated comeback a mixture of exciting and worrying for Ball.
In an interview with the Chattanooga Daily Times in August 1962, two months before the show's debut on CBS, the actress talked about how she hoped viewers would accept the new plot. "I think they're going to miss Ricky and Fred," she began. "After all those years. But I hope, and pray, they'll like the show enough and that it's funny enough to help accept us without the husbands."
Although the two men were no longer a part of the show, Lucy and Vivian were the same characters who always found themselves in bad situations, arguing and dressed up in hilarious costumes.
Even though Ball was away from television acting for a while, she insisted that it was easy for her to get back into the hang of things. "[It's] like I've never been away," she added. "And I'm back playing the character I know best and like best, Lucy. But I don't think I'd be doing this if it hadn't been for Viv."
Vance thought working with Ball again was perfect, which was why the comeback happened.
"The studio had the idea, and the offers were fabulous. But the thing that jelled it was Viv," Ball said. "She said let's go back to working together, she'd been busy doing one thing or another and was getting homesick for regular work, hard as it is. We're great friends, and we love to work together. So here we are."
The Lucy Show was a success, producing six seasons of comedic episodes and the wild adventures of two best friends.