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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So, Did Fred and Ethel Really Hate Each Other?

In one word?  Yes. 
Yet they managed to play a married couple for nine years on television.  My own personal opinion is that they used their mutual dislike of one another to enrich their weekly character portrayals. 
When they first met, Vivian Vance was appalled she had to play the wife of someone old enough to be her father (23 years older, to be exact), and William Frawley was simply convinced that Vance had no talent whatsoever.  Eventually, Vance accepted that Frawley was just an old codger, and too much so to change his ways.  The only thing she always maintained was every week they got their scripts for that week's show, she would "pray there wasn't a scene where I had to be in bed with him."
Frawley couldn't have cared less what Vance thought of him.  Although he maintained his attitude that Vance couldn't sing or dance, many episodes in "I Love Lucy" continue to prove him wrong.  The show's premise of having the Mertzes as ex-vaudevillians turned out to work perfectly, as both Frawley and Vance had performed in vaudeville earlier in their careers (Frawley, of course, to a greater extent simply because of his age).  Regardless of their mutual disdain for one another, they performed perfectly together, perfectly with Lucy and Ricky in the "Battle of the Sexes" episodes, and were and are an integral part of the success of "I Love Lucy".


  1. Just shows how professional and talented they both were. I've been watching I Love Lucy for as long as I can remember and I never would've known their extreme dislike for one another.

  2. Definitely! I always say they used their mutual dislike for each other to enhance their performances, and they learned to do it so well that no one could really tell the difference. Needless to say, "I Love Lucy" would never have become "I Love Lucy" without Vivian Vance and William Frawley.

  3. I didn't know it as a fact when I started watching I love Lucy but back when I started watching it everytime they were on screen I just sensed something wasn't right between was like they were putting each other down and having a little to much fun with it. they were a little to serious...and was knocked to the floor when it came out that they couldn't stand each other...even watching to this day I can still see it. .Still it was a number one show to me

  4. I have seen a little here and there, in scenes where there is hugging and Ethel would pull away from Fred. It was probably not noticeable since eyes were all on the Ricardo's. I still think they made the best neighbors and looked for the camera it was all good.

  5. I've read conflicting stories about William Frawley"s love of drink. One said he would spend every break in a bar downstairs from where filmed listening to the horse races on the radio. Wikipedia claims he promised Desi he would stay sober when Desi offered him the part of Fred. In either case, Vivian didn't like working with William because of his history of drinking.