Vivian Vance, Ethel Mertz of "I Love Lucy," was one of the most beloved comediennes in television.
Though her television image of of a bubble-headed matron consistently led by into bizarre situations by her wacky red-headed friend and neighbor Lucy, Vance was a woman of wide-ranging intellectual interests and enthusiasms, whose literary judgment was highly regarded by her husband, publisher John Dodds.
She was a tireless worker for mental health and had served on the board of the National Mental Health Assn. and had been active in other philanthropic and civic organizations.
While performing in "The Voice of the Turtle" after WWII, Vance herself had suffered a nervous breakdown that almost ended her career.
She later said that she was advised after treatment to return to the stage in a part that she knew. In the summer of 1951, she joined a production of "The Voice of the Turtle" at the La Jolla Playhouse. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball saw her on stage and said to each other: "There's our Ethel."
She went on to costar for seven years in "I Love Lucy" (1951-58) and later costarred again with Ball in "The Lucy Show" (1962-68).