Vicki Lawrence

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her nearly three-hour Archive interview, Vicki Lawrence discusses her early experience in a high school musical troupe called Young Americans. She explains how a letter she wrote to Carol Burnett (along with her striking resemblance to the star) wound up jump-starting her career. She outlines her first job, on The Carol Burnett Show, where she played "Little Sis" and was mentored by cast-mates Harvey Korman and Tim Conway. She details her spin-off show, Mama's Family, and the genesis of her character, "Mama," on "The Family" sketches on the Burnett show. She discusses being the first female game-show host on Win, Lose, or Draw, getting her own TV talk show, Vicki!, and chronicles her many guest-roles on The Love Boat, Laverne & Shirley, and Hannah Montana, among others. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on August 10, 2011 in Long Beach, CA.

"Well, 'Mama's Family' is sort of set in some kind of time warp... I've often said that I think she's kind of like 'Archie Bunker' in that we all know him, we all have one in our family, none of us will ever fess up to being him, so none of us are offended by him. And I think 'Mama's' a lot the same way. You don't have to think about it: there's nothing sexual, there's nothing dark, there's nothing cynical, there's no message, it's just silly, good laughing for no good reason."

Highlights
Vicki Lawrence on Bob Mackie's costume design for her Mama's Family character
01:00
Vicky Lawrence on loving doing comedy more than drama
00:44
Vicki Lawrence on how the writers of Mama's Family did not want "Mama" to be a Southern character
02:03
Vicki Lawrence on the episode of The Carol Burnett Show which won her an Emmy Award
01:26
Vicki Lawrence on her early breaks and "hitting the brick wall" much later in her career after her talk show was cancelled
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood in Southern California, her family's name change from Axelrod to Lawrence; on her musical background
03:56
On watching television as a young girl; on wanting to be Mary Tyler Moore when she grew up; on the beginnings of her singing career with the Young Americans (a non-profit singing group of high school students); on her first television appearances
07:24
On being told she looked like "a young Carol Burnett" and sending a letter that resulted in her later getting hired on The Carol Burnett Show as Carol's kid "Sis"; on being mentored by Harvey Korman; on leaving college to be on the show; on the process of the show and rehearsing the sketches; on what she learned about comedy from the show
39:19
On specific episodes of The Carol Burnett Show such as "Went with the Wind"; on memorable guest stars; on fame and celebrity
05:48
On the genesis of Mama's Family and the character of "Eunice," played by Carol Burnett; on how the "Family" sketches first premiered on The Carol Burnett Show and later resulted in the spin-off
02:42

Chapter 2

On how Mama's Family evolved from "The Family" sketches on The Carol Burnett Show; on the style of the show and costume design; on the cast and writers; on "Mama" and the other characters on the show; on the chemistry in the cast; on special guest stars
09:56
On taping The Carol Burnett Show live to tape; on memorable bloopers on that show; on winning an Emmy Award; on what she learned about comedy from her castmates; on meeting her husband Al Schultz; on the legacy of the show
22:50
On Eunice and Mama's Family; on the cast and guest-stars; on the show's cancellation; on what made that show special and the writers
25:27

Chapter 3

On hosting game shows; on being nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for hosting Win, Lose, or Draw; on getting her own talk show, Vicki!; on lessons learned about show business
17:00
On guest-starring roles on The Love Boat, Laverne & Shirley, Diagnosis: Murder, and a recurring role on Hannah Montana with Miley Cyrus; on fame; on advice to aspiring performers
15:48
Shows

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Vicki Lawrence on how her resemblance to Carol Burnett inadvertently led to her being cast on The Carol Burnett Show as her kid sister
02:29
Vicki Lawrence on her audition for The Carol Burnett Show where she was cast as Carol's little sister
Vicki Lawrence on her first day of rehearsals on The Carol Burnett Show as "Little Sis"
Vicki Lawrence on the process of taping The Carol Burnett Show live
Vicki Lawrence on the "Carol and Sis" sketches on The Carol Burnett Show
Vicki Lawrence on specific episodes of The Carol Burnett Show such as "Went with the Wind," and on Harvey Korman being nervous about playing Clark Gable
Vicki Lawrence on the costumes and makeup as "Mama" on Mama's Family and The Carol Burnett Show - the costumes were by Bob Mackie
Vicki Lawrence on how the writers of "The Family" sketches on The Carol Burnett Show (later to evolve into Mama's Family) did not want "Mama" to be a Southern character
Vicki Lawrence on some memorable guest-stars on The Carol Burnett Show: Rita Hayworth, Sammy Davis Jr., and Tony Randall
01:42
Vicki Lawrence on a memorable blooper on The Carol Burnett Show during the "Family" sketch with Tim Conway
03:35
Vicki Lawrence on the episode of The Carol Burnett Show which won her an Emmy Award
01:25
Vicki Lawrence on what she learned about comedic timing from her castmates on The Carol Burnett Show: Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, and Carol Burnett
Vicki Lawrence on the legacy of The Carol Burnett Show: "the last of the great variety shows"
01:38

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78): "Went with the Wind!" Sketch

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Vicki Lawrence on specific episodes of The Carol Burnett Show such as "Went with the Wind," and on Harvey Korman being nervous about playing Clark Gable

Hannah Montana

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Vicki Lawrence on getting a recurring role on Hannah Montana playing the grandmother of Miley Cyrus

Laverne & Shirley

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Vicki Lawrence on guest-starring on Laverne & Shirley with director Garry Marshall
00:45

Love Boat, The

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Vicki Lawrence on guest-starring on The Love Boat, and her kissing scenes
00:28

Mama's Family

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Vicki Lawrence on the genesis of Mama's Family and the character of "Eunice," played by Carol Burnett - the "Family" sketches first premiered on The Carol Burnett Show and later resulted in the spin-off
Vicki Lawrence on the costumes and makeup as "Mama" on Mama's Family and The Carol Burnett Show - the costumes were by Bob Mackie
Vicki Lawrence on her character on Mama's Family, "Mama"
01:05
Vicki Lawrence on how the writers of "The Family" sketches on The Carol Burnett Show (later to evolve into Mama's Family) did not want "Mama" to be a Southern character
Vicki Lawrence on how Mama's Family evolved from its genesis on The Carol Burnett Show in the "Family" sketches and the chemistry within the cast
Vicki Lawrence on how Mama's Family (and Eunice) spun off from The Carol Burnett Show
Vicki Lawrence on her input on Mama's Family and its cast: Ken Berry, Dorothy Lyman, Rue McClanahan, Betty White
Vicki Lawrence on Mama's Family getting cancelled
Vicki Lawrence on the timelessness of Mama's Family and the show's legacy

Vicki!

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Vicki Lawrence on not wanting to host her own talk show, Vicki!; on the lucky breaks she's gotten and her disappointment when that show was cancelled; on the fun she had on that show
Vicki Lawrence on what she learned about being a good talk show host on Vicki! and from Carol Burnett
04:01

Win, Lose or Draw

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Vicki Lawrence on becoming the host of Win, Lose, or Draw and being the first female game show host; on her wardrobe
Vicki Lawrence on getting a Daytime Emmy nomination for Win, Lose, or Draw and her advice to TV hosts
Topics

Emmy Awards

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Vicki Lawrence on the episode of The Carol Burnett Show which won her an Emmy Award
01:26

Fame and Celebrity

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Vicki Lawrence on how Carol Burnett approached fame and celebrity, and on not feeling like a celebrity herself

We Laughed

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Vicki Lawrence on specific episodes of The Carol Burnett Show such as "Went with the Wind," and on Harvey Korman being nervous about playing Clark Gable

Women

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Vicki Lawrence on the challenges for women in television
00:52
Professions

Actress

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Vicki Lawrence on advice to aspiring performers

Performers

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Vicki Lawrence on the importance of listening when performing, especially with live television
Genres

Comedy Series

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Vicki Lawrence on the importance of listening when performing comedy which she learned from Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Show which was much like improv
01:23

Game Shows

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Vicki Lawrence on hosting Win, Lose, or Draw and her advice to TV hosts

Talk Shows

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Vicki Lawrence on the key to a sucessfull talk show: letting the host be themselves
05:18
Vicki Lawrence on what she learned about being a good talk show host on Vicki! and from Carol Burnett
03:35
People

Ken Berry

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Vicki Lawrence on her Mama's Family co-star Ken Berry, who played her son

Carol Burnett

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Vicki Lawrence on being told she looked like "a young Carol Burnett" and sending her a letter that resulted in her later getting hired on The Carol Burnett Show as her kid sister
06:10
Vicki Lawrence on what she learned from Carol Burnett
03:27
Vicki Lawrence on going shopping with Carol Burnett
Vicki Lawrence on being mentored by Carol Burnett and on how generous she was and learning "if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong"
01:45
Vicki Lawrence on a memorable blooper on The Carol Burnett Show during the "Family" sketch with Tim Conway and Carol Burnett
03:35

Tim Conway

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Vicki Lawrence on a memorable blooper on The Carol Burnett Show during the "Family" sketch with Tim Conway and Carol Burnett
03:35
Vicki Lawrence on working with Tim Conway who co-starred on The Carol Burnett Show with her

Miley Cyrus

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Vicki Lawrence on working with Miley Cyrus on Hannah Montana as her grandmother

Dick Van Dyke

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Vicki Lawrence on working with Dick Van Dyke who guest-starred on The Carol Burnett Show with her

Harvey Korman

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Vicki Lawrence on how her Carol Burnett Show co-star, Harvey Korman, took her under his wing and mentored her
Vicki Lawrence on how seriously Harvey Korman took the comedy business
01:18
Vicki Lawrence on the legacy of Harvey Korman who co-starred on The Carol Burnett Show with her

Dorothy Lyman

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Vicki Lawrence on her Mama's Family co-star Dorothy Lyman, who played her daughter-in-law

Bob Mackie

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Vicki Lawrence on the costumes and makeup on Mama's Family - the costumes were by Bob Mackie

Rue McClanahan

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Vicki Lawrence on her Mama's Family co-star Rue McClanahan

Dave Powers

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Vicki Lawrence on Dave Powers' directing skills on Mama's Family and his use of props

Betty White

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Vicki Lawrence on her Mama's Family co-star Betty White

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