I Love Lucy fans know Vivian Vance as Lucy’s neighbor and cohort “Ethel Mertz.” Born Vivian Roberta Jones in Cherryvale, Kansas, on July 26 in 1909, the second of six siblings, one brother and four sisters, Vivian was popular, blessed with an outgoing personality, and very rebellious. As a friend of Louse Brooks, the 20th century “flapper” icon and world renown silent screen actress, they made mud pies together and played among the tombstones manufactured two blocks down the street.
She had a passion for acting and was constantly being thwarted by her strictly religious mother. At the age of 16, Viv went to Tulsa for awhile, but moved back to Kansas right before the family headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico. She appeared in many plays with the Albuquerque Little Theater. The town provided money for Vivian to go to New York to find work on Broadway. Vivian traveled with theater companies and made a name for herself. One special person that came to see her at a production was a man named Desi Arnaz. Her realized that Vivian was exactly what they needed to play “Ethel Mertz.” It took a lot of convincing to his wife, Lucille Ball, but in the end, it worked out and made TV history. Vivian tried other parts in movies as well as sitcoms, but never escaped the “Ethel” image. She died of cancer on August 17, 1979.
West 6th Street was designated as Vivian Vance Lane the summer of 2002.rn