What Happened to Vivian Vance of 'The Lucy Show' after She Left the Series

Vivian Vance's life after “The Lucy Show,” was one that reflected her love for theatre and the small screen; she held onto it for as long as she could.

Vivian Vance was a sitcom and theatre sweetheart from the moment she performed for the first time.

Publicity photo of Vivian Vance in 1964 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Publicity photo of Vivian Vance in 1964 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

THE YEARS BEFORE “THE LUCY SHOW”

Vance's career started at the Albuquerque Little Theater, and her first big break didn’t come until she starred in “Music in the Night,” after which she had other roles until she joined the theatre cast of the “Voice of the Turtle.”

While performing there, the actress had a mental breakdown, and stayed in therapy for years until her return at the time when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were looking to cast “Ethel Mertz” on the sitcom “I Love Lucy.”

The role made Vance a household name, and by ’54, she became the first actress to win an Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actress.

After the show ended in ‘57, the Kansas-born actress moved to Stamford, Connecticut, and lived there until she got the offer to reprise her role in the ‘67 spin-off “The Lucy Show.

Vivian Vance and the cast of "I Love Lucy" circa the 1950s | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vivian Vance and the cast of "I Love Lucy" circa the 1950s | Source: Wikimedia Commons

THE YEARS AFTER

Vance stayed on the spin-off for three years, but she didn’t like the long-distance journey working on the show demanded, so she limited her participation to guest roles only.

The actress continued her guest role into the third spin-off, “Here’s Lucy,” and in that time she also starred in other productions like “Love, American Style, “ and continued to act on stage.

Vance also worked actively as a volunteer to several mental health causes and served on the board of the National Mental Health Association.

Vivian Vance and members of the cast of "The Lucy Show" in 1962 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vivian Vance and members of the cast of "The Lucy Show" in 1962 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

THE LAST DAYS OF VIVIAN VANCE

In ’73, the theatre star got diagnosed with breast and bone cancer, and despite her failing health, she continued to appear in theatre productions, holding on, to the one thing that gave her joy as long as she could. By ’74 she moved to California, and in ’77, the 1909-born actress died from cancer.

At Vance’s death, Bell said she lost her best friend while the world lost one of its greatest performers, adding at the end that she’ll miss her.

In 2014, the Albuquerque Museum opened an exhibition in her memory titled, “Everybody’s Neighbor: Vivian Vance,” and the museum curator, Deb Slaney, said the town always knew that the actress would become a big star.

Vance indeed was a star, and although she tried for years to overcome her character on the “Lucy” shows, it is what the world still and will always remember her for.

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