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Marla Fitzie (born March 23, 1920) is known for being the wife of William Frawley. She is a mother of three (a fourth was stillborn, and a miscarriage in 1951). She is also known for being a friend of her late husband's co-stars, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance. She also tried out for Ethel Mertz on the hit sitcom, I Love Lucy, but became pregnant, and had to decline.
Marla Fitze was born Leanne Ursala Everdeen on March 23, 1920 in Austin, Oregon—now a ghost town—to Michael Everdean (c.1853–November 18, 1921), and Marla Peterson (May 1875–March 23, 1920). She later said that she got the name Marla from her mother (who died in childbirth while having her and a stillborn twin). She was the youngest of three (Otto, 28 and Peter, 8). After her father died a year later, she and her brother went to live with an older brother. Growing up, Marla was friends with her niece, Kate, who was born a week later than her. Kate was her bridesmaid at both of her weddings. On May 29, 1937, she became the wife of businessman, Brandon White. They had one child, Ridge (b. November 3, 1940). When they got married, she was 17 and he was 37. On October 3, 1943, her husband died in a fire at work. She and three other women became widows.
In her husband's will, he left her rich. She then moved to Hollywood and bought a house. In 1946, she met William Frawley and married him the next year. In 1951, she heard of an opportunity to star on television, in Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's I Love Lucy. She tried out for Lucy's friend, Ethel Mertz. She won the part, but became pregnant three weeks later and gave the role to a friend, Vivian Vance. This pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Later, Vance offered her the role, but became pregnant only three days later. This time, she was pregnant with a child, Esther, who was stillborn. After this, she tried out and got a part in the 1953 "I Love Lucy Movie". But, the movie was shelved at Ball's desire. (Ball decided it would be part of the series, while she decided that it wouldn't be good for her health, because she was sick at the time of the ending.) Soon, she became pregnant with twins, who would be Marie Ann (December 3, 1952–present) and Darline (December 3, 1952–present).
In 1960, Vance offered Fitzie the role of Ethel in a spin-off to I Love Lucy, but had to decline when Frawley tried to get his stepson, Ridge, to an orphanage. She soon separated from him in 1961, and filed for a divorce in 1962. On January 4, 1963, the divorce became final. She and Vance sent a storyline of two girls divorced from their husbands to CBS, but the company declined because of Vance's role on Lucille Ball's other show.
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