Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vivian Vance's Weight

There was a long time ago when I thought that Vivian Vance's contract had stated that she had to gain a substantial amount of weight in order to look fatter on television. I was quite disturbed by it because it's inherently wrong, but thankfully, I delved more into this gigantic rumor by reading books, autobiographies and watching those television shows that sparked off this rumor. Today, I find it sad it that many people think members of the Desilu Productions would be so nasty enough to force Vivian Vance to gain 20 pounds of weight. I've read several books and autobiographies and it confirmed that THIS IS NOT TRUE at all. It is simply a huge misconception and once and for all, I would like to clear it.

There are many ways to make a person look fat and frumpy on television. Vivian was forced to wear bras of smaller cup sizes, tighter skirts and girdles, and to dye her hair a dishwater blonde and to style it unfashionably, but she was never ever forced to gain weight. You know how nasty gossips can fuel and go down in history books as "facts". Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball themselves have disproved this piece of gossip. The only thing they ever did was to give her a gag gift at a party. Desi and Lucy both knew the emotional insecurities Viv had and wanted to help her, and Viv herself, just like Lucy, like to encourage certain gossips. Later on, during a television talk show, Vivian brought the fake contract gag gift and read it out loud but had clarified that it was a joke. However, since then, people misunderstood about it.

Here's an immediate proof, from IMDb. I mean, IMDb won't publish things that don't ring true, would it?
Legend has it that a clause in her television contract required her to stay 10 pounds heavier than costar/producer Lucille Ball. Actually, this contract never existed, at least not in legal, binding form. It was a mock contract given to Vance by Ball as a gag gift sparking the legend it was a real contract.

The second evidence is an excerpt from a book, Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia. The author, Michael Karol had no reason to lie. He had spoken to people who had been present at the party when the gag gift was given, and he had viewed the TV show when the contract was read out.

Lastly, I would like to point out that even the "girl writer", Madelyn Pugh Davis, never believed that Vivian Vance was forced to gorge herself with food to look fatter. She is the best source because she had a longstanding professional relationship with the big stars and she knew their tendency to exaggerate things was phenomenal.

If you still aren't convinced by me, I can present more evidences.

No one ever pointed out to Viv that she had been lying, because of the personal relationship that the cast and crew members had shared. People knew about her frequent emotional breakdowns. Playing Ethel Mertz, the second banana to Lucy Ricardo wasn't easy. On top of it, she had been romantically linked to Fred Mertz, a man much older than herself. She felt that it was unglamorous and she disliked it.Vivian had lied that she was younger than Lucille, but in fact, she was 3 years older.

I feel that there's nothing wrong with lying about all of these. These are all harmless gossips, not slandering or hurtful. After all, big celebrities faced (and still face) astounding levels of stress that you and I will never fathom. It also goes to show that they're only human. 

If you're interested in knowing about this wonderful actress who loved Lucille Ball, take a look at the trivia:

1 comment:

  1. The stars themselves address it here: