Vivian Vance traveled over 3,000 miles to work on The Lucy Show
Image credit: The Everett Collection
Many actors are known for their deep dedication to the roles they play throughout their careers. Vivian Vance was one of those hardworking actors whose dedication spanned across the United States — literally 3,000 miles across the country.
Vance was probably one of the only actresses in the 1960s who would commute 3,000 miles each week to work. Vance lived in Old Long Ridge Village in Connecticut and worked in Hollywood.
She was Lucille Ball's sidekick on The Lucy Show and played the role of Vivian Bagley for a total of 81 episodes.
It was a long haul, but the comedian grew very familiar with flying long distances.
According to a 1964 interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Vance said she played a divorcee, but in real life she was married to John Dodds, a New York literary agent.
Vance and Dodds figured it would be easier for Vance to catch a plan each week to go to work than it would be to uproot the life they enjoyed in Connecticut.
"After we film the show on Thursday nights, I catch the 12:30 a.m. flight to New York," Vance said. "I fall asleep right away, and when I wake up it's 8:30 in the morning in New York. John meets me at the airport and we drive home. The trip really isn't as bad as it sounds."
Vance calculated, with the time changes and all, that it takes seven hours from Desilu Studios to her home. She said most people from California spend more time than that in traffic throughout their week anyway.
Her schedule allowed her to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday with her husband. She then would dedicate all other days to Lucille Ball. What a nice balance.
According to the article, Vance's house was built in the 1820s, but had multiple remodels throughout multiple decades. Vance said she spent most of her time in her garden, which was one of her favorite places.
"We have a swimming pool, too, which is something I never had in 10 years of living in Hollywood," Vance said.
Vance's poodle, Boofie, also had quite the travel miles, too. He would fly between work and home each week with Vance. Vance said working on The Lucy Show was a dream, but she worked hard to shed her image as Ethel while on the series.
According to a 1962 interview with The Hartford Courant, Vance said she was worried that the identity of Ethel, a role she played on I Love Lucy, had started to take over her life.
"I did anything that would let me be myself — anything that would break the Ethel image," Vance said. "It was nice being back on a stage, and it was nice being called Vivian Vance for a change."
Vance said Lucille Ball was a great talent, and a great clown. Although she enjoyed her Hollywood lifestyle, she still considered herself a regular Connecticut wife.
"Even after all the years in Hollywood, I feel now that home is in Connecticut and I'm a visitor out there," Vance said. "So, even if it is my house, when I'm working out there, I feel like a visitor."
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