cover image The Other Side of Ethel Mertz: The Life Story of Vivian Vance

The Other Side of Ethel Mertz: The Life Story of Vivian Vance

Frank Castelluccio. Knowledge, Ideas & Trends, $24.95 (319pp) ISBN 978-1-879198-26-5

""When I die, there will be people who send Ethel Mertz flowers,"" remarked Vivian Vance (1909-1979), Lucille Ball's neighbor and sidekick on the TV series I Love Lucy. Though the role of Ethel on the classic sitcom brought Vance fame if not fortune (she and stage hubby William ""Fred Mertz"" Frawley were not in on the deals that enriched others attached to the show), it also robbed her of her identity. In this candid, revealing first bio about Vance, fans will meet a vibrant woman who little resembled the frump she made famous. Long before her television career, Vance was well known as a sparkling comedic actress who worked with major stars including Jimmy Durante, Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, Ed Wynn and Gypsy Rose Lee and who carried on passionate love affairs, some during her first three marriages. When she married for the fourth time, it was to a man 12 years her junior who had been involved in a 20-year relationship with another man. The marriage was, by all accounts, a happy one. Plagued by crippling bouts of depression, Vance was one of the first celebrities to speak openly about mental illness. Fans of I Love Lucy will be taken with the behind-the-scenes stories of the show and its feuds and friendships; one of the most surprising nuggets is that Lucy and Ethel didn't get along offstage. Those who wish to meet the woman who created Ethel Mertz are unlikely ever again to mistake Vance for her alter ego. (Oct.)