“Champagne, for everyone!”… Fred and Ethel Mertz

I Love Lucy was huge in the fifties and helped start the modern sitcom. It is still popular to this day.

William Frawley and Vivian Vance portrayed Fred and Ethel Mertz on screen the landlords to Ricky and Lucy Ricardo. Ethel was Lucy’s friend and Fred was Ricky’s cheap best friend.

In real life, things were not smooth at all between the two. The age difference between Frawley and Vance was 22 years. Vivian was overheard telling Lucy that no one would believe that she would be married to that old coot. Frawley overheard this and the relationship was born.

Desi Arnaz had wanted Frawley to play Fred but he had a drinking problem so Desi had to lecture Frawley about always being on time etc.

Vance was professional, had her lines learned, and was always on time. Frawley would learn his lines at the last minute while locked away in a hotel listening to a baseball game. He also had it in his contract that if the Yankees were in the World Series that he would get time off.

They would argue while rehearsing and the director would have to settle it. Lucy and Desi would usually just ignore it.

After I Love Lucy went off the air CBS offered Frawley and Vance a chance to star in a spin-off series called either Fred and Ethel or The Mertzes. Frawley, always in need of drinking money, was willing, but Vance refused, never wanting to work with him again. This supposedly infuriated Frawley.

While Vance was working on the new “The Lucy Show”, Frawley would sneak to the soundstage and drop film canisters loudly, deliberately ruining Vance’s scene and causing a re-take.

I will say this… whatever feud or dislike they had…their performances will be forever be remembered.

Here are some quotes they gave about the other.

Frawley: “She’s one of the finest gals to come out of Kansas, and I often wish she’d go back there. I don’t know where she is now and she doesn’t know where I am. That’s exactly the way I like it.”

Vance: “I loathed William Frawley and the feeling was mutual. Whenever I received a new script, I raced through it, praying that there wasn’t a scene where we had to be in bed together.”

William Frawley died of a heart attack in 1966 at the age of 79. When she heard the news, Vivian Vance was dining in a restaurant. What she supposedly said after hearing the tragic news was: “Champagne for everybody!”

To be fair… Vivian Vance also said this when Frawley died… “There’s a great big amusing light gone out of this world.”

You do get the feeling while they argued they did respect each other.

Vivian Vance would pass away in 1979.

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Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

15 thoughts on ““Champagne, for everyone!”… Fred and Ethel Mertz”

    1. Did you watch tv Friday night? CBS showed two of I Love Lucy and two of the Dick Van Dyke shows in color…it was so clean.
      I love black and white though but it was nice seeing them in prime time….I hardly EVER watch the networks anymore but this was worth it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. They show reruns of them along with Andy Griffith Show all the time here so whenever I feel in a nostalgic mood, all I have to do is turn on the Television! LOL

        I don’t watch a lot of ‘current’ era television because a lot of it is rubbish to me. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I despise modern tv… I have all the old shows on my media server…whenever I want I can watch Gunsmoke, Barney Miller, The Honeymooners, Mary Tyler Moore…etc. I’ve got quite a collection to say the least.

        I pretty much live in the seventies in my entertainment…I’m with ya.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I happened onto the color Dick Van Dyke show midway through it. It looked very good, not like a ‘colorized’ one. Funny thing about that show-i remember the opening theme clearly but hardly recall a thing about it other than Dick was in it, married to MTM

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Lucy was and still is a classic that all comedies chase in achieving stardom. I always loved this show as did all my Mom and sisters and brothers. I would love to be able to watch more of them but alas have to find some.

    Liked by 1 person

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