As Fred and Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, the chemistry between Vance and Frawley was so strong they rank among TV’s all-time favorite sidekicks. Off-screen, however, Vance and Frawley loathed one another. She was appalled that Frawley, 22 years her senior, was cast as her husband. And Frawley reportedly overheard Vance call him “old coot” behind his back, and never forgave her.
Frawley was known to have a drinking problem and a temper—he was once fired for punching another actor in the nose—though he was always professional on Lucy. Still, their relationship was extremely contentious: “She’s one of the finest girls to come out of Kansas,” he once remarked of Vance, “But I often wish she’d go back there.”
Vance had such a distaste for him, she put the kibosh on a planned Fred and Ethel spin off. When Frawley died in 1966, it’s rumored she said, “Champagne for everyone!”