Last Updated: March 2, 2024
Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$1 Million
Jul 26, 1909 - Aug 17, 1979 (70 years old)
5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Singer, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Vivian Vance's Net Worth

What was Vivian Vance's Net Worth and Salary?

Vivian Vance was an American actress who had a net worth of $1 million at the time of her death in 1979. That's the same as around $4 million in today's dollars after adjusting for inflation. Vivian Vance is best known for playing Ethel Mertz on the 1950s television sitcom "I Love Lucy." She later reunited with Lucille Ball on the sitcoms "The Lucy Show" and "Here's Lucy," among other programs. Beyond the screen, Vance was a prolific stage actress, with credits including "Let's Face It!," "The Cradle Will Rock," "The Time of the Cuckoo," and "Barefoot in the Park."

Early Life and Education

Vivian Vance was born as Vivian Jones on July 26, 1909 in Cherryvale, Kansas as the second of six children of Robert Sr. and Euphemia. When she was still young, she moved with her family to Independence, Kansas, where she would go on to attend Independence High School. As an adolescent, Vance had a passion for acting that clashed with her mother's rigid religious beliefs. She often rebelled, sneaking out of her bedroom and violating curfew.

Career Beginnings

Vance began her career in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1930, performing in the inaugural show at the Albuquerque Little Theatre. She continued performing there in other plays, including "This Thing Called Love" and "The Cradle Song." Thanks to funds from the local theater community, Vance was able to travel to New York City to study under Eva Le Gallienne.

I Love Lucy

Vance became widely known to the US viewing public in 1951 when she began starring alongside Lucille Ball on the new CBS sitcom "I Love Lucy." She played Ethel Mertz, the landlady of Ball's main character Lucy Ricardo. Ethel's husband Fred was played by William Frawley. "I Love Lucy" was a massive hit with audiences, running for six seasons through 1957. For four of those seasons, it was the most-watched show in the US. The series won numerous awards, including the first-ever Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, for Vance. She was nominated an additional three times before the end of the show.

I Love Lucy Salary

Vivian Vance's initial salary on "I Love Lucy" was significantly lower than her co-stars, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Ball and Arnaz each earned a reported $2,000 in base salary per episode. Through their profit sharing, they ultimately made more than $50,000 per episode. Meanwhile, Vivian Vance and William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz, were initially paid $280 per week.


Other Shows with Lucille Ball

After the conclusion of "I Love Lucy" in 1957, Vance continued playing Ethel Mertz in a series of hour-long specials entitled "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour." Following that, in 1962, she began starring opposite Lucille Ball on the new CBS sitcom "The Lucy Show." On that show, Ball played widowed mother of two Lucy Carmichael, and Vance played her divorced friend Vivian Bagley. After leaving "The Lucy Show" in 1965, Vance returned as a guest star for the final two seasons of the show from 1966 to 1968. She went on to make several guest appearances on Ball's third sitcom, "Here's Lucy," which ran from 1968 to 1974. Vance and Ball appeared together for the final time in the 1977 CBS special "Lucy Calls the President."

Further Television Career

Beyond her collaborations with Lucille Ball, Vance appeared on several other television programs during her career. In the 1960s, she had guest roles on "The Deputy," "Guestward, Ho!," "The Red Skelton Show," and "Love, American Style." The next decade, Vance appeared in a number of television films, including "The Front Page," "Getting Away from it All," and "The Great Houdini." She made her final television appearance in an episode of the short-lived crime drama series "Sam" in 1978.

Film Career

Vance made her film debut in the 1925 silent "The Patent Leather Pug." She didn't appear much on the big screen after that. Vance had her next credited film role in the 1950 psychological thriller "The Secret Fury," playing streetwise chambermaid Leah. The following year, she played Alicia Torgersen in the historical drama "The Blue Veil." Vance didn't appear in another film until 1965, when she played Hester Goodbody in Blake Edwards's epic comedy "The Great Race." That was her final big-screen appearance.

Stage Career

Vance began appearing on Broadway as a chorus member in 1932. She eventually moved up to supporting roles, starting with the musical "Hooray for What!" in 1937. Vance had her longest-running stage role in 1941, playing Nancy Collister for 547 performances in the Cole Porter musical "Let's Face It!" Over the rest of the decade, she appeared in such plays as "The Voice of the Turtle," "The Cradle Will Rock," and "Springtime for Henry." Vance didn't return to the stage until 1960, in "Here Today." She went on to act in "Over 21," "Don't Drink the Water," "The Time of the Cuckoo," and "Barefoot in the Park," among other shows. In the 1970s, Vance appeared in productions of "The Marriage-Go-Round," "Butterflies Are Free," "Arsenic and Old Lace," and "Harvey."

Personal Life and Death

Vance was married a total of four times. She was married to her first husband, Joseph Danneck Jr., from 1928 until their divorce in 1931. Vance was subsequently wed to George Koch from 1934 until their divorce in 1940. She married her third husband, actor Philip Ober, in 1941; they divorced in 1959. Vance wed her fourth and final husband, John Dodds, in 1961. They remained together until Vance's passing 18 years later.

In 1973, Vance was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. Six years later, on August 17, 1979, she passed away from the disease. Vance was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, and in 2012 was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction