Vivian Vance believed her friendship with Lucille Ball was perfectly balanced
Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz had the friendship that many wanted. Lucy always persuaded Ethel to tag along on adventures that eventually got them in trouble with their husbands. The women bickered often, but their bond remained strong.
They were a package deal. You couldn't have one without the other. Why did this fictional I Love Lucy duo seem so real? Because Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance were close in real life. Vance believed their friendship was perfectly balanced, creating instant on-camera chemistry.
In an interview with Ridder News Service in 1974, the actress talked about her friendship with the comedic legend and how Ball motivated her to improve, saying, "She's a talented, driving lady. I think one of the reasons Lucille and I remain close friends is that one balances the other," she said. "Lucille had more ambition than I had and made me work harder than I ever wanted to work. She pulled me along and taught me a lot of things I was too lazy to do."
The balance could be seen within their work. Together with Desi Arnaz and William Frawley, they brought personal experiences and personalities to their I Love Lucy characters.
"We always tried to keep our characters human — even though we were a bunch of clowns," Vance added. "I told the writers that Lucy is so beautiful and lots of beautiful ladies in real life have a lady around them who's not too attractive. I just asked them not to make me too unattractive or it wouldn't be believable."
How did the producers and directors pull this off within the show? By experimenting and excluding the word "boss."
"There was no boss on that set. He would have been trampled by the crowd. Everybody was allowed to have his say at every conference. We rehearsed three days and then sat in a room sometimes until 4 a.m. and fought out every word, every scene."
Yes, they were clowns, but in a good way. The show — and Vivian and Lucille — brought laughter to viewers who tuned in to see what problem the women would cause.
Weekdays at 12p ET | 9a PT