The friction between the Fred and Ethel Mertz was real.
I’ve mentioned before that when I was a kid I liked to watch “I Love Lucy.” One reason was I like the Fred Mertz character. Even as a kid, I thought Fred was funny. I’ve learned a little bit more about the man who played Fred, William Frawley.
Not all I found out about William was flattening, but some of the things Frawley did were things I could relate to. So, here are some things you might not have known about William Frawley.
1: Frawley had a long and successful acting career despite having an unpleasant personality and a drinking problem.
It seems that Frawley wasn’t just a mean drunk. He was also a mean sober. Does that mean drinking didn’t affect him?
Arnaz was direct with Frawley. He said Frawley’s first misstep would be tolerated. The second would result in a severe reprimand. His third mishap would get him fire. Dezi had his own three strikes and you're out program.
3: Vivian Vance and William Frawley truly didn’t get along.
After “I Love Lucy Finished is run, Vance and Frawley, aka Ethel and Fred were offered their own series. Frawley was okay with the idea, but Vance refused to work with him again.
He was a Yankees fan in particular. In his contract he had a clause that allowed him time off if the Yankees were in the World Series. That clause kicked in seven time during his run with “I Love Lucy.” It’ was a good thing for Frawley he was a Yankees fan instead of a Cubs fan.
Dezi was paying Frawley $7,500 a week by the time the series finished. Arnaz also made sure Frawley got a good package of residuals. While Arnaz might not have been a great husband, he was apparently a good friend.