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Born July 26

Vivian Vance got her start as a stage actress, co-founding the Albuquerque Little Theatre and moving on to Broadway, but it was on television that she truly found her fame. She was Ethel Mertz, Lucy's best friend and sidekick on "I Love Lucy," and she stuck with co-star Lucille Ball when she launched the follow-up sitcom "The Lucy Show" after "I Love Lucy" ran its course. Vance won an Emmy Award for her efforts and gained a lifelong friend in Ball. After "The Lucy Show," Vance returned to the stage, and she became a prominent spokeswoman for Maxwell House Coffee. We remember Vance's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including Motown singer Mary Wells.

1944: Kiel Martin, U.S. actor known best for playing Detective John "J.D." La Rue on "Hill Street Blues," is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1940: Mary Jo Kopechne, U.S. political campaign worker who died in a car accident while riding with U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, is born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

1940: Dobie Gray, U.S. singer-songwriter whose "Drift Away" was a smash hit in 1973, is born in Simonton, Texas.

1938: Bobby Hebb, U.S. singer-songwriter who had a hit in 1966 with "Sunny," is born in Nashville, Tennessee.

1928: Joe Jackson, father of Michael and Janet and the Jacksons, is born in Fountain Hill, Arkansas. 

1923: Bernice Rubens, Welsh author known for novels including "Madame Sousatzka," is born in Cardiff, Wales.

1928: Stanley Kubrick, U.S. film director, producer, and screenwriter whose notable movies include "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "The Shining," is born in the Bronx, New York.

1926: James Best, U.S. actor known best for playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on "The Dukes of Hazzard," is born in Powderly, Kentucky.

James Best (CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)Best starred on the television series that ran from 1979 to 1985. He was the lawman futilely chasing the Duke brothers, often in the company of his droopy-faced basset hound Flash. Best employed a battery of catchphrases in the role, as well as memorable laugh that was comically villainous. "I acted the part as good as I could," Best told The Charlotte Observer in a 2009 interview. "Rosco, let's face it, was a charmer. It was a fun thing." Read more




1923: Jan Berenstain, U.S. author and illustrator known best for "The Berenstain Bears" series of children's books she created with her husband, Stan, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"The Berenstain Bears" were initially Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Small Bear before their family grew to include Sister Bear and Honey Bear (and a name change for Small Bear, who became Brother Bear). Their tales generally center on a lesson Papa wishes to teach his little bears, with the situation escalating into a Papa-caused crisis. Mama eventually fixes things, and the bears are happy again. The pattern repeats itself throughout the many books, and many adult critics have blasted the series for being overly formulaic: predictable and syrupy-sweet. Of course, if there are two things children like, they are routines and sweets. Read more



1922: Jason Robards, U.S. actor who won Academy awards for his performances in "All the President's Men" and "Julia," is born in Chicago, Illinois.

1922: Blake Edwards, U.S. film director, producer, and screenwriter well-known for movies including "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and the "Pink Panther" series, is born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Adapted from a 1958 Playhouse 90 TV episode written by J.P. Miller, Edwards' "Days of Wine and Roses" was one of the first films to give serious treatment to alcoholism rather than play drunks for cheap laughs. Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick give gut-wrenching performances as a downward-spiraling couple who succumb to their addictions at the expense of everything else in their lives. Both Lemmon and Remick were nominated for Academy awards for their work, and, ironically, both would later seek treatment for alcoholism, as would Edwards. Read more




1921: Jean Shepherd, U.S. writer and radio personality known best for narrating and co-writing the movie "A Christmas Story," is born in Chicago, Illinois.

1918: Marjorie Lord, U.S. actress who starred on the TV sitcom "Make Room for Daddy" and is the mother of actress Anne Archer, is born in San Francisco, California.

1914: Erskine Hawkins, U.S. jazz trumpeter and bandleader who co-wrote the jazz standard "Tuxedo Junction," is born in Birmingham, Alabama.

1909: Vivian Vance, U.S. actress known best for playing Ethel Mertz on "I Love Lucy," is born in Cherryvale, Kansas.

Ball and Vance didn't immediately click as friends. In fact, Ball was reluctant to cast Vance on "I Love Lucy" – she was looking for an older, frumpier woman to play her neighbor. But Desi Arnaz had seen Vance's work on the stage and was convinced he had found the right actress for the job. As it turned out, the chemistry between the two women was brilliant. Read more




1895: Gracie Allen, U.S. comedian known best for her longtime comedy partnership with her husband, George Burns, is born in San Francisco, California.

1894: Aldous Huxley, English author known best for books including "Brave New World" and "The Doors of Perception," is born in Godalming, England.

1875: Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who created analytical psychology, is born in Kesswil, Switzerland.

1856: George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright whose well-known works include "Pygmalion," which was adapted into the musical "My Fair Lady," is born in Dublin, Ireland.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including Motown singer Mary Wells.