Born Vivian Roberta Jones in Cherryvale, Kansas, Vivian Vance experienced a comfortable and close family upbringing. Attracted to the theater from an early age, Vivian studied drama under Anna Ingleman and William Inge before moving to Albequerque NM where she acted professionally in the Albuquerque Little Theatre. Vivian used the money earned from her time in Albuquerque to move to New York City in 1932 where she studied under Eva Le Gallienne. Vivian landed a part in Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "Music in the Air," then moved onto "Anything Goes," "Hooray for What!" and "Voice of the Turtle" where she was seen by Desi Arnaz who cast her in the role of Ethel Mertz in the "I Love Lucy" television series.
Vivian was initially reluctant to take the part which she considered too frumpy and she didn’t get along with the character’s on-screen husband William Frawley. Desi and Lucy were able to convince Vivian to take on the role and the “I Love Lucy” series went on to entertain millions of viewers.