Vivian Roberta Dodds (Jones) (1909 - 1979) MP

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Nicknames: "Vivian Vance"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Cherryvale, Kansas, USA
Death: Died in Belvedere, California, USA
Managed by: Mike Mahaffie
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About Vivian Roberta Dodds (Jones)

Vivian Roberta Vance (July 26, 1909 – August 17, 1979)[1] was an American award winning television and theater actress and singer. Often referred to as “TV’s most beloved second banana,” she is best known for her role as Ethel Mertz, sidekick to Lucille Ball on the American television sitcom I Love Lucy, and as Vivian Bagley on The Lucy Show.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Vance

Born Vivian Roberta Jones in Cherryvale, Kansas, Vance was the second of six children born to Robert Jones and Euphemia Ragan. When she was six years old her family moved to Independence, Kansas, where she eventually began her dramatic studies at Independence High School under the tutelage of Anna Ingleman, the drama instructor. William Inge was a classmate and fellow cast member in play productions at the school. Her love of acting clashed with her mother's strict religious beliefs, and it wasn't too long before Vance, nicknamed "Viv" by friends, became very rebellious, often sneaking out of her bedroom and staying out after curfew. She soon changed her surname to Vance (after folklorist Vance Randolph) and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to find work as an actress. Vance was a founding member of the Albuquerque Little Theatre, where she played a vamp in This Thing Called Love and a nun in The Cradle Song, the local theatre community helped pay her way to New York to study under Eva Le Gallienne.

Starting in 1934, she was in a number of shows on Broadway playing second or third leads: (dates she was in the cast)

Anything Goes - November 21, 1934-November 16, 1935

Red, Hot and Blue - October 29, 1936-April 10, 1937

Hooray for What! - December 1, 1937-May 21, 1938

Skylark - October 11, 1939-May 25, 1940

Out From Under - May 4, 1940-May 11, 1940

Let’s Face It! - October 29, 1941-March 20, 1943

It Takes Two - February 3, 1947-February 8, 1947

The Cradle Will Rock (revival) - December 26, 1947-February 7, 1948

and later in her career:

My Daughter, Your Son - May 14, 1969-June 21, 1969

When Desi Arnaz and wife Lucille Ball were casting their new television sitcom I Love Lucy in 1951, director Marc Daniels, who had previously worked with Vance in a theater production, suggested her for the role of landlady Ethel Mertz. She was not the first choice, however. Lucille Ball wanted actress Bea Benaderet, a close friend to play the part. Benaderet was already playing Blanche Morton on the Burns and Allen television series, and thus declined the role. Arnaz then began searching for another actress. Daniels took Arnaz to the La Jolla Playhouse, along with producer Jess Oppenheimer, to see Vance in the John Van Druten play The Voice of the Turtle. While watching her perform, Arnaz was convinced he had found the right woman to play Ethel Mertz. Ball was less sure, since she had envisioned Ethel as much older and less attractive. In addition, Ball, firmly entrenched in film and radio, had never heard of Vance, primarily a theater actress. Nonetheless, the 42-year-old Vance was given the role on the new television program, which debuted October 15, 1951, on CBS. Eventually, Ball overcame her resistance to Vance, and the two formed a close friendship.

Vance's Ethel Mertz character was the less-than-prosperous landlady of a New York City brownstone, owned by her and husband Fred Mertz on East 68th Street. The role of Fred was played by William Frawley, who was 22 years her senior. While the actors shared great comedic and musical chemistry on-screen, they did not get along in real life. According to some reports, things first went sour when Frawley overheard Vance complaining about his age, stating that he should be playing her father rather than her husband. She used to skim through the script to see how many scenes she had with that "stubborn-headed little Irishman." Others recall that Frawley loathed Vance practically on sight. Vance, in turn, was put off by Frawley's cantankerous ways, in addition to his age.

Honored for her work in 1953, Vance became the first actress to win an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Supporting Actress". Vance accepted her award at the Emmy ceremony in February 1954. She was nominated an additional three times (for 1954, 1956 and 1957) before the end of the series.

In 1957, after the highly successful half-hour I Love Lucy episodes had ended, Vance continued playing Ethel Mertz on a series of hour-long specials titled The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show (later retitled The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour). In 1959, she divorced her third husband Philip Ober, who allegedly physically abused her. When I Love Lucy was reformatted into the hour-long Lucy-Desi shows in 1957, Desi Arnaz proposed to Vance and Frawley the opportunity to star in their own "Fred and Ethel" spin-off show. Although Frawley was interested, Vance declined mainly because she felt the Mertz characters would be unsuccessful in a show without the Ricardos. Additionally Vance did not want work on a one on one basis with Frawley, something Frawley came to resent. Instead Vance was interested in doing a series based on the life of Babs Hooten, a New York socialite who moves to New Mexico to run a hotel and ranch. Desi Arnaz financed a pilot staring Vance as Hooten titled Guestward, Ho! which was shot in 1958 by Desilu, however, the show was rejected by CBS and in turn Vance continued in her Ethel Mertz role. Arnaz would later retool the show with model and actress Joanne Dru taking the lead role, selling the series to ABC where it was subsequently cancelled after one season.

In 1961 she married literary agent John Dodds (d. 1986). The couple set up their home in Stamford, Connecticut and the marriage lasted until Vance's death.

In 1962, when Lucille Ball was planning to return to television in a new series, she asked Vance to rejoin her. Vance reluctantly agreed, with the stipulation that she be allowed to appear in more glamorous clothes, as well as having her character be named "Vivian" (as she was tired of the public addressing her as "Ethel"). She appeared on The Lucy Show from 1962 until 1965, as Vivian Bagley, a divorced mother of one son, sharing a house with Ball's character. The character of Vivian Bagley was the first divorcee ever on a weekly American television series.

The strain of commuting from her home in Connecticut to Hollywood was too hard on her, however. By 1964, she appeared in only half of the episodes (in the storyline of The Lucy Show, Vivian Bagley and her son moved away after she remarried). The following year, she was offered a new contract with Desilu Studios, giving her the opportunity to direct. This never came to fruition, though, when Vance could not reach an agreement on salary. She made a handful of guest appearances on the remaining seasons of The Lucy Show.

After her departure from The Lucy Show, Vance appeared occasionally alongside Lucille Ball on reunion shows and made several guest appearances on Ball's third sitcom, Here's Lucy (1968–1974). In 1966 Vance did the national tour of Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water. She had the leading role as the wife and mother of a family that takes a disastrous trip to Europe. In 1969, Vance returned to Broadway and starred in the comedy My Daughter, Your Son.

In 1973, Vance was diagnosed with breast cancer. The following year, she and her husband moved to Belvedere, California, so she could be near her sister. It was during this period that Vance played the part of "Maxine", who drove a catering truck, dispensing Maxwell House coffee to office workers in a series of television commercials. She also guest-starred in a 1975 episode of Rhoda, playing an older woman who strikes up a friendship with Rhoda. Her final television appearance with Lucille Ball was on the CBS special Lucy Calls the President, which aired November 21, 1977. That same year, Vance suffered a stroke which left her partially paralyzed.

Vivian Vance, through all of her marriages, never had a child. She died on August 17, 1979, of bone cancer. After her death, Desi Arnaz remarked, "It’s bad enough to lose one of the great artists we had the honor and the pleasure to work with, but it’s even harder to reconcile the loss of one of your best friends."

She was the godmother of Lovin' Spoonful guitarist John Sebastian, and had been very close friends with his mother Jane.

Her body was cremated, and the ashes scattered at sea. Family members donated Vance's Emmy Award to the Albuquerque Little Theatre after her death.

During a 1986 interview, Lucille Ball talked about watching I Love Lucy reruns and her reaction to Vance's performance: "I find that now I usually spend my time looking at Viv. Viv was sensational. And back then, there were things I had to do—I was in the projection room for some reason, and I just couldn't concentrate on it. But now I can. And I enjoy every move that Viv made. She was something."

For her achievements in the field of television, Vance was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991 at 7030 Hollywood Boulevard.

Vance is memorialized in the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New York.

On January 20, 2010, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a local antique dealer had inherited many of Vance's photos and scrapbooks and a manuscript of Vance's unpublished autobiography when John Dodds died in 1986. -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Vance

Vivian Vance (born Vivian Roberta Jones, July 26, 1909 – August 17, 1979) was an American television and theater actress and singer. Vance is best known for her role as Ethel Mertz, sidekick to Lucille Ball on the American television sitcom I Love Lucy, and as Vivian Bagley on The Lucy Show.


Early life


Born in Cherryvale, Kansas, Vance was the second of six children born to Robert and Euphemia Jones. When she was six years old, her family moved to Independence, Kansas, where she eventually began her dramatic studies at Independence High School under the tutelage of Anna Ingleman, the drama instructor. Her love of acting clashed with her mother's strict religious beliefs, and it wasn't too long before Vance, nicknamed "Viv" by friends, became very rebellious, often sneaking out of her bedroom and staying out after curfew. She soon changed her surname to Vance (after folklorist Vance Randolph) and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to find work as an actress. Vance was a founding member of the Albuquerque Little Theatre, where she appeared in many plays including, This Thing Called Love and The Cradle Song. The local theatre community helped pay her way to New York to study under Eva Le Gallienne.


Career


Broadway and Film

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Vance#Broadway

I Love Lucy


When Desi Arnaz and wife Lucille Ball were casting their new television sitcom I Love Lucy in 1951, director Marc Daniels, who had previously worked with Vance in a theater production, suggested her for the role of landlady Ethel Mertz. Lucille Ball had wanted either Bea Benaderet or Barbara Pepper, both close friends, to play the role. CBS refused Pepper on the grounds that she had a drinking problem, and Benaderet was already playing Blanche Morton on the Burns and Allen television series. Arnaz then began searching for another actress. Daniels took Arnaz to the La Jolla Playhouse, along with producer Jess Oppenheimer, to see Vance in the John Van Druten play The Voice of the Turtle. While watching her perform, Arnaz was convinced he had found the right actress to play Ethel Mertz. Ball was less sure. She had envisioned Ethel to be much older and less attractive. Vance, however, was close to Ball's age and was attractive. In addition, Ball, firmly entrenched in film and radio, had never heard of Vance, who was primarily a theater actress. Nonetheless, the 42-year-old Vance was given the role on the new television program, which debuted October 15, 1951, on CBS. Throughout the run of the show, Vance's character of Ethel Mertz was dressed in old-fashioned and frumpier clothing to tone down her attractiveness and make her look older than she actually was. Although Vance's and Ball's friendship was lukewarm initially, Ball eventually overcame her resistance to Vance and began respecting her as a friend and an actress, and the two formed a close friendship.


Vance's Ethel Mertz character was the less-than-prosperous landlady of a New York City brownstone, owned by her and husband Fred Mertz on East 68th Street. The role of Fred was played by William Frawley, who was 22 years her senior in real life. While Vance and Frawley shared great acting, comedic, and musical chemistry on-screen, off-screen they did not get along. According to some reports, things first went sour when Frawley overheard Vance complaining about his age, stating that he should be playing her father rather than her husband. She used to skim through the script before she memorized her lines to see how many scenes she had with that "stubborn-headed little Irishman." Others recall that Vance and Frawley practically loathed each other on sight, and that Vance was put off by Frawley's cantankerous attitude.


Honored for her work in 1953, Vance became the first actress to win an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Supporting Actress". Vance accepted her award at the Emmy ceremony in February 1954. She was nominated an additional three times (for 1954, 1956 and 1957) before the end of the series.


In 1957, after the highly successful half-hour I Love Lucy episodes had ended, Vance continued playing Ethel Mertz on a series of hour-long specials titled The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show (later retitled The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour). In 1959, she divorced her third husband Philip Ober, who allegedly physically abused her. When I Love Lucy was reformatted into the hour-long Lucy-Desi shows in 1957, Desi Arnaz proposed to Vance and Frawley the opportunity to star in their own "Fred and Ethel" spin-off show. Although Frawley was very interested, Vance declined, mainly because she did not want to work on a one-on-one basis with Frawley as they already did not get along. Also, she felt the Mertz characters would be unsuccessful in a show without the Ricardos. Vance declining the would-be show intensified the animosity between her and Frawley. Instead Vance was interested in doing a series based on the life of Babs Hooten, a New York socialite who moves to New Mexico to run a hotel and ranch. Desi Arnaz financed a pilot starring Vance as Hooten titled Guestward, Ho! which was shot in 1958 by Desilu; however, the show was rejected by CBS and in turn Vance continued in her Ethel Mertz role. Arnaz would later retool the show with model and actress Joanne Dru taking the lead role, selling the series to ABC where it was subsequently cancelled after one season.


The Lucy Show


In 1961 Vance married literary agent John Dodds (d. 1986). The couple established their home in Stamford, Connecticut, although they moved to California in 1974; the marriage lasted until Vance's death. In 1962, Lucille Ball was planning to return to television in a new series, The Lucy Show. The series starred Ball as Lucy Carmichael, a widow with two children living in Danfield, New York. Vance reluctantly agreed to be her co-star on the condition that she be allowed to appear in more glamorous clothes as well as having her character be named "Vivian". By this time in her life, Vance had grown tired of the public addressing her as "Ethel".


She appeared on The Lucy Show from 1962-65, as Vivian Bagley, a divorced mother of one son, sharing a house with Ball's character. The character was the first divorcee ever on a weekly American television series. The strain of commuting from her home in Connecticut to Hollywood was too hard on her. In the third season, Vance didn't appear in 7 of the season's 26 episodes. In 1965, after completing her third year on the series, Vance decided to leave. At the start of the 1965-66 season, the format of the sitcom had changed. The "Lucy" character moved out to Los Angeles. Vivian Bagley remarried and she, her son and her new husband remained in Danfield. Before she departed the show, Vance was offered a new contract with Desilu Studios, giving her the opportunity to direct. This never came to fruition as Vance could not reach an agreement on salary. She made only 3 more guest appearances on the remaining seasons of The Lucy Show.


Life after Lucy


Following her departure from The Lucy Show at the end of the third season, Vance signed on to appear in a Blake Edwards film, The Great Race. Vance saw this as an opportunity to restart a movie career which never really took off. The film was a moderate success, receiving several Academy Award nominations; however, it did little to help Vance establish a career as a movie actress. Vance was slated to make her return to Broadway in the Woody Allen comedy Don't Drink the Water. However, Vance left the play during its out-of-town tryouts, later saying she felt the role was not right for her and asked the show's producers to be let out of her contract. Vance would end up making her Broadway return several years later in 1969 in the comedy My Daughter, Your Son. However, the show was not a success and lasted only five weeks. A national tour proved to be more successful.


After her departure from The Lucy Show, Vance appeared occasionally alongside Ball on reunion shows and made several guest appearances on Ball's third sitcom, Here's Lucy (1968–1974). In 1973, Vance was diagnosed with breast cancer. The following year, she and her husband moved to Belvedere, California, so she could be near her sister. It was during this period that Vance's agent got her an endorsement deal with Maxwell House Coffee. Over the next several years she could be seen in numerous commercials for Maxwell House. The 1970s saw Vance making a number of TV guest appearances as well as appearing in a number of made for TV movies including The Front Page (1970), Getting Away From it All (1972) and The Great Houdini (1976).


Death


Vance made her final television appearance with Lucille Ball on the CBS special Lucy Calls the President, which aired November 21, 1977. That same year, Vance suffered a stroke which left her partially paralyzed.


She died on August 17, 1979, of bone cancer (secondary to breast cancer). After her death, Desi Arnaz remarked, "It’s bad enough to lose one of the great artists we had the honor and the pleasure to work with, but it’s even harder to reconcile the loss of one of your best friends."


Her body was cremated, and the ashes scattered at sea. Family members donated Vance's Emmy Award to the Albuquerque Little Theatre after her death. During a 1986 interview, Lucille Ball talked about watching I Love Lucy reruns and her reaction to Vance's performance: "I find that now I usually spend my time looking at Viv. Viv was sensational. And back then, there were things I had to do—I was in the projection room for some reason, and I just couldn't concentrate on it. But now I can. And I enjoy every move that Viv made. She was something."


For her achievements in the field of television, Vance was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991 at 7030 Hollywood Boulevard.


Vance is memorialized in the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New York. On January 20, 2010, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a local antique dealer had inherited many of Vance's photos and scrapbooks and a manuscript of Vance's unpublished autobiography when John Dodds died in 1986. Vance and Frawley were inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in March 2012.


Trivia

She was the godmother of Lovin' Spoonful guitarist John Sebastian, whose mother had been a close friend. Vance herself had no children.

Filmography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Vance#Filmography

Broadway credits

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Vance#Broadway_credits

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Vivian Vance's Timeline