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Vicki Lawrence

Vicki Lawrence
Vicki Lawrence Schultz, 2009
Born Vicki Ann Axelrad
(1949-03-26) March 26, 1949
Inglewood, California, United States
Nationality American
Other names Vicki Lawrence Schultz
Education Morningside High School
Occupation Actress, Comedienne, Singer, Dancer, Writer
Years active 1967–present
Spouse(s) Bobby Russell (m. 1972–74)
Al Schultz (m. 1974)
Children Courtney Schultz
Garrett Schultz
Website Official website

Vicki Ann Lawrence (born March 26, 1949, sometimes credited as Vicki Lawrence Schultz) is an American actress, comedienne and singer. She is known for the many characters she originated on CBS's The Carol Burnett Show where she appeared from 1967 to 1978, for the entire series run. One such character, The Family matriarch Thelma Harper/Mama, would later be the central character of the television situation comedy series Mama's Family on NBC and, later, in first-run syndication.

In 1973, she became a United States and Canada top charts.

She is credited with co-authoring two books.

She has multiple Emmy Award nominations, winning one in 1976. She is also a multiple Golden Globe nominee, all for The Carol Burnett Show.

She has made multiple appearances in Television shows such as Laverne and Shirley, The Love Boat, Murder She Wrote, Roseanne, Diagnosis Murder and with friend and co-star Tim Conway in Yes, Dear. She most recently played Mamaw in Hannah Montana.

Lawrence has made numerous post-Mama's Family guest TV show appearances in her famed Thelma Harper/Mama role. On February 5, 2013, Lawrence appeared as the character in a special sketch for "Betty White's 2nd Annual 90th Birthday."[1] In addition, Lawrence regularly hosts a non-televised stage show titled Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two-Woman Show.


  • Early life and career start 1
  • Career 2
    • Acting 2.1
    • Music 2.2
    • Hosting and other work 2.3
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
  • Discography 5
    • Albums 5.1
    • Singles 5.2
  • Books 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and career start

Lawrence was born Victoria Ann Axelrad in [5]

In high school, Lawrence auditioned and got in to the musical group [5]

In November of Lawrence's senior year, she entered the Miss Fireball of Inglewood contest for the local fireman's ball. A reporter for a local newspaper wrote a story about the contest and stated that Lawrence bore a striking resemblance to a young [5]

After being given the job on The Carol Burnett Show, both Burnett and [5]



Lawrence in her most famous role as Thelma Harper (aka Mama)

As a comedienne and actress, Lawrence is known for her work on The Carol Burnett Show, of which she was a part from 1967 to 1978. She was the only cast member, except for Burnett herself, who stayed on the show for the entire eleven seasons. After The Carol Burnett Show ended in 1978, Lawrence and her husband Al Schultz moved with their children to Maui, Hawaii, but after a couple of years, returned to Los Angeles where they have remained.

Her portrayal of the "Mama" character on The Carol Burnett Show's The Family sketches was so popular that NBC subsequently created the sitcom, Mama's Family, elaborating on the Mama character. (Burnett reprised the Eunice Higgins character for the sitcom from time to time.) The series ran from 1983 to 1985 on NBC; after its cancellation from NBC, it was renewed from 1986 to 1990 in first-run syndication. The show was more successful in the renewed version. She also reprised the "Mama" character on stage for Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two-Woman Show.

Lawrence has made appearances on other programs, such as the sitcoms Laverne & Shirley (as the girls' drill sergeant, Alvinia T. Plout), Major Dad, Roseanne, Hannah Montana and Yes, Dear. In between the NBC and syndication runs of Mama's Family, Lawrence starred in the 1985 comedy pilot Anything for Love, which aired as a special on CBS that summer and co-starred Lauren Tewes and Rebeca Arthur. Lawrence has also appeared with Burnett, Harvey Korman, and Tim Conway in the Burnett show retrospectives that were broadcast in 1993, 2001 and 2004. Lawrence played 'Sister Mary Paul aka Sister Amnesia' in the TV special based on Nunsense Jamboree which originally aired on TNN in 1998.

Lawrence played "Mamaw Stewart" (the mother of Robby Ray Stewart and grandmother of Jackson and Miley Stewart) in the hit Disney series Hannah Montana, alongside Billy Ray Cyrus, and his daughter Miley Cyrus.

Lawrence recently played as "Mama" in an Ohio commercial, promoting a constitutional amendment that would permit casino gambling in Ohio. Lawrence played Dan's old high school flame, Phyllis, in an episode of Roseanne. She also appeared in a special celebrity edition episode of the Anne Robinson version of The Weakest Link. Playing for a charity, she made it to the final two, but ended up losing to Ed Begley, Jr..


As a singer, Lawrence got her start as one of the scores of hopefuls on the syndicated Johnny Mann's Stand Up And Cheer program. However, she is most known for her #1 hit, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia", a song written by her first husband Bobby Russell, which was released on Bell Records in November 1972. It sold over two million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in April 1973.[6] During the last episode of the sixth season of The Carol Burnett Show (March 24, 1973), Lawrence received her gold record by surprise from Carol Burnett. Her first LP, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia was issued soon after the single went gold in April, 1973.

"He Did With Me," Lawrence's follow-up to "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," reached #75 in the United States, although it became her biggest hit in Australia, peaking at #1 there in November 1973. She followed it up there with "Ships in the Night" (1974). A year later, in the fall of 1975, Lawrence managed one last minor U.S. chart entry on the Private Stock label with "The Other Woman" (#81).

In 1974 she recorded her second LP for Bell Records, Ships in the Night. The label was in the process of being bought out by ARISTA and the LP was not released in the U.S. The LP was, however, released in Australia where she continued to have chart success. Lawrence's first two LPs were released as a single CD with bonus tracks on April 1, 2014 by Real Gone Music.

She released a disco album entitled Newborn Woman late in 1979. The album produced the minor disco hit "Don't Stop the Music".

Hosting and other work

As an emcee, she hosted the daytime NBC version of the game show Win, Lose or Draw, as well as an unsold pilot for Mark Goodson Productions, Body Talk, and has also appeared often as a popular panelist on such game shows as Match Game, Password, Password Plus, Super Password, various incarnations of the Pyramid game show, as well as Hollywood Squares, where she appeared both as herself and in character as Thelma "Mama" Harper. Lawrence was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Talk Show in 1993 for the eponymous Vicki! (1992-1994), but the show was canceled after two seasons.

She tours the country with her "two-woman" show with the first half as herself and the second half done as Thelma "Mama" Harper. She can also be currently seen on TV in an infomercial for the "Big Boss Grill". She is also known for her voice-over work as "Flo" on the animation series Hermie and Friends.

Personal life

Lawrence was married to singer and songwriter Bobby Russell from 1972 to 1974. Lawrence's second husband is Hollywood make-up artist, Al Schultz, to whom she has been married since November 16, 1974, and with whom she has two children, Courtney Allison Schultz (born May 5, 1975) and Garrett Lawrence Schultz (born July 3, 1977). Lawrence and her family appeared on Celebrity Family Feud in July 2015.[7]

Lawrence was diagnosed with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) around 2011.[8] She teamed up with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and has become the spokesperson for the campaign CIU & You.[9] She appeared on The Doctors in 2015 to relay her story and talk about CIU and promote the CIU & You campaign.[10]


Selected film and television roles
Year Title Role Notes
1967-1978 The Carol Burnett Show Various characters Regular cast member

Won - Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program - 1976
Nominated - Primetime Emmy award for Best Supporting Actress in Comedy-Variety, Variety or Music (1967)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program (1975, 1977)
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1973, 1975, 1977)

1975-1991 The (New) $25,000 Pyramid Herself (celebrity contestant) 90 episodes
1976-1991 The $25,000 Pyramid Herself (celebrity contestant) 7 episodes
1978 The Eddie Capra Mysteries Eve Randall Episode "Murder on the Flip Side"
1978-1986 The Love Boat Various roles 6 episodes
1979 Carol Burnett & Company Various characters Regular cast member
1979 Laverne & Shirley Sgt. Alvinia T. Plout 5 episodes
1982 Eunice Thelma Harper TV movie
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (1980–81)
1983-1990 Mama's Family Thelma Harper Starring role
1984-88 Super Password Herself (celebrity contestant) 44 episodes
1987-89 Win, Lose or Draw Host Nominated - Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host (1988, 1989)
1991 Major Dad "Pookie" Pond 1 episode
1992-94 Vicki! Host Nominated - Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host (1993, 1994, 1995)
1993 Roseanne Phyllis Zimmer 1 episode
1994 Hart to Hart: Old Friends Never Die Nora Kingsley, author TV movie
2001-05 Yes, Dear Natalie Warner 7 episodes
2002-04 Hollywood Squares Herself/Thelma Harper (celebrity panelist) 45 episodes
2006-2011 Hannah Montana Ruthie "Mamaw" Stewart 5 episodes
2015 Celebrity Family Feud Herself 1 episode



Year Album Chart Positions Catalog #
U.S. Can.
1973 The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia 51 31 Bell 1120
1974 Ships in the Night SOSL10106
1979 Newborn Woman WindMill L26


Year Song Chart Positions Album
U.S. U.S. AC U.S. Country Can. Can. AC Can. Country
1969 "And I'll Go" singles only
1970 "No, No"
1973 " 1 6 36 1 2 25 The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
"He Did with Me" 75 14 42 16
1974 "Ships in the Night" 49 Ships in the Night
"Mama's Gonna Make it All Better"
"Old Home Movies" singles only
1975 "The Other Woman" 81 97
1976 "There's a Gun Still Smokin' in Nashville"
"The Other Man I've Been Slipping Around With"
1977 "Hollywood Seven"
1979 "Don't Stop the Music" Newborn Woman
"Your Lies"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


  • Vicki!: The True-Life Adventures of Miss Fireball (1995) - ISBN 0-684-80286-4; published by Simon and Schuster with Marc Eliot, an American biographer listed several times on the New York Times bestselling list.[11]
  • Mama for President: Good Lord, Why Not? (2008) ISBN 1-4016-0409-9 ISBN 978-1-4016-0409-7, with Monty Aidem, an American comedy writer.[12]


  1. ^ "Video Gallery | Movies & Specials | All Videos : Newest". NBC. Retrieved 2013-03-05. 
  2. ^ "VICKI LAWRENCE booking - Celebrity Actors, Comedians - Corporate Entertainment Booking". 1949-03-26. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  3. ^ "Vicki Lawrence Biography (1949-)". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  4. ^ "Vicki Lawrence Interview | Archive of American Television". Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Vicki Lawrence". Archive of American Television. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 314–315.  
  7. ^ "Celebrity Family Feud:Joey Lawrence vs. Mario Lopez/Ed Asner vs. Vicki Lawrence". Retrieved 2015-08-02. 
  8. ^ "CIU&You". Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  9. ^ "Comedienne, Actress Vicki Lawrence Teams Up with AAFA To Talk About Chronic Skin Condition". Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  10. ^ "VICKI LAWRENCE’S CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION". Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  11. ^ "Marc Eliot: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  12. ^ "Keynote Speaker: Monty Aidem". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 

External links

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