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Victoria Ann Lawrence is a well-known American actress and occasional singer who is also renowned for her comedy acts. Acknowledged as Vicki Lawrence Schultz occasionally, she gained prominence as part of a television show titled The Carol Burnett Show, which was aired on CBS. She was part of the show from 1967 to 1978 and the only person among all other cast members (aside from Burnett) who remained on the show from the beginning to the end of its run.
Her song – The Night The Light, released in 1973, made her a one-hit-wonder as it became one of the top-charting songs on the US and Canada. With lots of Emmy Awards and Golden Globe nominations, Vicki Lawrence has long established herself as an A-lister. Here are all the things you’ve always wanted to know about her and her career.
Vicki Lawrence’s Background Information
The talented entertainer was born in California as Victoria Axelrad on the 26th of March 1949. She graduated from a public school located in Inglewood, California, known as the Morningside High School. The school was the second-largest after the Inglewood High School in the city at the time.
In her early days in high school, she became a member of a musical group known as The Young Americans from 1965 to 1967 and as part of the group, she was opportune to perform at the Oscars. It was Vicki Lawrence’s original plan to become a dental hygienist and in order to make that happen, she enrolled in the University of California, Los Angeles, at a time she was already on The Carol Burnett Show. However, along the line, she switched to theatre arts but eventually dropped out of the institution two years later.
Her Acting Career Journey: The Beginning
As a final year high school student, Vicki Lawrence entered for the local firefighter’s ball contest, joining other young girls to compete for the crown of Miss Fireball of Inglewood. Unknown to her, her decision to take part in the competition would eventually bring her in contact with the then already established star, Carol Burnette, and mark the beginning of her acting career on a professional scale. This was how it happened…
A local newspaper reporter who wrote a story about the beauty contest clearly expressed that Vicki looked very much like Carol Burnett. Thrilled by the publication, Vicki’s mother convinced her to write a letter to Carol and attach the newspaper article. After the actress received the letter, she got interested in seeing Lawrence and consequently, she called her father to notify him that she would be present at the Miss Fireball contest. As fate would have, Vicki ended up not just meeting her look-alike star actress but also emerged winner of the contest and was crowned by Burnett herself.
Career Breakthrough Via The Carol Burnett Show
It also turned out that Carol Burnett was, at the time, looking for an actress who will portray the character of her younger sister on her upcoming show, Carol and Sis, which was one of the sketches on her Carol Burnett Show. Luckily, Miss Lawrence landed the role (Chrissy) some months later after going through several auditions. Afterwards, she played many other roles on the show, including Thelma Harper/Mama on The Carol Burnett Show’s “The Family” sketches.
Following her perfect portrayal of the character of Mama, a detached, unfeeling, and unaffectionate mother of Eunice (Burnett), the sketches became so popular that NBC decided to elaborate on the Thelma Harper/Mama character by creating the sitcom Mama’s Family with her as the central character. The series aired from 1983 to 1985 on NBC and after it was cancelled, it was renewed in the first-run syndication from 1986 to 1990. Thankfully, the renewed version recorded even more success. Vicki went on to reprise the Mama role in a stage play titled Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two-Woman Show.
Vicki Lawrence’s outstanding performance on The Carol Burnett Show garnered her widespread recognition, earning her four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, one of which she won in 1976, and three Golden Globe Award nominations. Meanwhile, Sequel to joining the television show, Carol Burnett and actor/comedian Harvey Korman began mentoring Vicki with the latter teaching her different sketch comedy skills. Speaking of her experience on the show, Vicki Lawrence described it as the “Harvard school of comedy” in addition to crediting Burnett as the source of her show business knowledge.
Other Movies And Television Series
Lawrence has appeared on other shows, including The Eddie Capra Mysteries, Laverne & Shirley, The Love Boat, Yes, Dear, Roseanne, and Major Dad. In 1979, she was a regular cast member on Carol Burnett & Company where she portrayed various characters and also reprised her role as Thelma Harper on the television film, Eunice, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
While Mama’s Family aired on NBC and other stations, Vicki Lawrence played a starring role in the comedy pilot Anything for Love (1985), which was shown as a special on CBS that summer. Afterwards, she appeared in an episode of Murder She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder as Jackie Mackay and Kitty Lynn respectively. Thereafter, Vicki also played the role of Nora Kingsley in the TV movie Hart to Hart: Old Friends Never Die in 1994.
From 2006 through 2011, the actress featured in five episodes of the hit Disney series Hannah Montana, playing Ruthie “Mamaw” Stewart, mother of Robby Ray Stewart and grandmother of Jackson and Miley Stewart. In 2017, she was seen in four episodes of Great News and from 2018 to 2019, she played a starring role in the comedy television series The Cool Kids.
Discover More Interesting Facts About The Entertainer
TV Game Show Appearances
Vicki Lawrence has appeared in and hosted a number of game shows on television. From 1975 to 1991, she participated in 90 episodes of The (New) $25,000 Pyramid as a celebrity contestant and from 1976 to 1991 she also appeared in seven episodes of The $25,000 Pyramid. In the years that followed, Vicki participated in almost fifty episodes of Password Plus and Super Password.
She subsequently served as host of Win, Lose or Draw for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 1988 and 1989 and also hosted the syndicated talk show, Vicki! from 1992 through 1994, earning three more Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Talk Show Host. She later went on to host the Fox After Breakfast: The Vicki Lawrence Show in 1997 and appeared as herself/Thelma Harper (celebrity panellist) in 45 episodes of Hollywood Squares from 2002 to 2004.
Moving forward, in 2012 and 2015, the talented lady appeared in an episode each of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars and Celebrity Family Feud. She also played for a charity in a special celebrity-edition episode of Anne Robinson’s version of The Weakest Link but lost.
Her Net Worth
Vicki Lawrence spent over a decade of her career on The Carol Burnette show and thus, was one of the show’s top earners. Most of her subsequent major gigs were related to the show, including Mama’s Family which was a spin-off of the show. Vicki Lawrence sure did make a bulk of her wealth from this period. However, the actress has remained active over the years and is showing no signs of taking a bow.
In addition to acting on several TV shows, Vicki Lawrence hosted a couple of TV shows, a part of her career that definitely did much to boost her overall net worth which is estimated at $8 million.
Who Is Vicki Lawrence’s Husband?
Vicki Lawrence was first married to singer Bobby Russell from 1972 to 1974. He was an American singer and songwriter who penned the lyrics to Lawrence’s hit song, The Night The Light. Bobby died on 19th November in 1992.
She later met a Hollywood make-up artist Al Schultz, who was the onscreen make-up artist on The Carol Burnett Show. She married him the same year she finalized her divorce from Russell and the pair have since remained inseparable. The couple is parents to two children – a daughter, Courtney Allison Schultz and son Garrett Lawrence Schultz, born in May 1975 and July 1977 respectively.
The Actress’ Chronic Health Condition
Vicki Lawrence was, in 2011, diagnosed with Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (CIU). As a result, she has collaborated with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to become a spokesperson for the campaign CIU & You. She has spoken of the ailment in a 2015 episode of The Doctors.