Marcia Strassman (born April 28, 1948 in New York City) is an American actress who is best known for her roles in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter and the 1989 feature film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Prior to that, she also had a short-lived recurring role in the TV sitcom, M*A*S*H.
Ms. Strassman is frequently mistaken for WKRP in Cincinnati cast member Jan Smithers, with whom she bears a close resemblance.
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Strassman is frequently mistaken for WKRP in Cincinnati cast member Jan Smithers, with whom she bears a close resemblance. (1998). Ms. The Other Side of Ethel Mertz: The Life Story of Vivian Vance by Frank Castelluccio & Alvin Walker, published by Knowledge, Ideas & Trends, Inc. Prior to that, she also had a short-lived recurring role in the TV sitcom, M*A*S*H. She was also the first person to win the Best Supporting Actress Emmy. Marcia Strassman (born April 28, 1948 in New York City) is an American actress who is best known for her roles in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter and the 1989 feature film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Vivan Vance played a significant part in the history of television She defined the role of second banana, paving the way for future female sidekicks.
She was diagnosed with cancer in 1977 and died in 1979. Her final television appearance was on the last CBS Lucy production, Lucy Calls the President, which aired November 21, 1977, and featured many of the cast members from The Lucy Show. During the mid-1970s she took small roles on sitcoms such as Rhoda. Over the next several years, Vance appeared occasionally alongside Ball on reunion shows and for guest appearances on Here's Lucy.
She remained with the show for three of its six years before retiring to Connecticut. Vance paired once again with Ball for The Lucy Show, her first post-Arnaz series, and this time was permitted to look more glamorous as Vivian Bagley, a divorced mother of one son. (Vance's then real-life husband, Phil Ober, frequently played small supporting roles on the series, most notably as producer Dore Scharey in one of the Hollywood episodes.). She and Frawley were a perfect match as the bickering Mertzes, since they detested each other in real life.
Vance's character was the less than prosperous resident of a New York City brownstone owned by her and her husband Fred (William Frawley). A somewhat youthful looking and attractive woman, Vance was required to wear frumpy clothes that were actually a size smaller than Vance usually wore in order to make her appear overweight. Lucille Ball was less than sure; she had envisioned Ethel Mertz as much older and less attractive than Vance. Upon seeing Vance, Arnaz knew he had found the perfect Ethel.
He found her at the La Jolla Playhouse's production of The Voice of the Turtle. Benadaret was unavailable due to a previous commitment so Arnaz went looking for another actress. When casting his new sitcom I Love Lucy, starring himself and wife Lucille Ball, Ball's first choice for the role of landlady Ethel Mertz was Bea Benadaret. During the early years of her career she played small roles in a few films, but worked primarily as a stage actress, appearing in a total of thirty-eight productions throughout her career.