- Vicki Lawrence
- Vicki Ann Axelrad
- Inglewood CA
- United States
- Singing Appearing On Stage
- Funny And Bubbly Versatile Acting Range Talented Entertainer
Vicki Lawrence (born Vicki Ann Axelrad; March 26, 1949) is an American actress, comedienne, and Billboard Hot 100 #1 singer, who was frequently a game show panelist in the 1970s and 1980s. She is best known for her co-starring role on The Carol Burnett Show, alongside Carol Burnett, from 1967 to 1978, and as the sharp-tongued matriarch, Thelma Harper (the main character on Mama's Family, airing from 1983 to 1990, which was spun off from The Carol Burnett Show's The Family sketches). As a singer she recorded The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia that made #1 on the US chart as well as in Canada. She is credited with co-authoring two books and has also used the name Vicki Lawrence Schultz.
Vicki Lawrence Life and career
Lawrence was born in Inglewood, California, the daughter of Anne Alene (née Loyd) and Howard Axelrad, a certified public accountant. She is a graduate of Morningside High School in Inglewood.
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. Vicki was hired for the show on the basis of a letter she sent to Burnett and the producers, with a photograph of Lawrence that clearly showed her resemblance to Burnett.
After The Carol Burnett Show was canceled by CBS after its long eleven year run in 1978, Vicki and her by then-husband Al moved with their children to Maui in Hawaii but after a couple of years, returned to Los Angeles where they have remained. Her portrayal of the "Mama" character was so popular that NBC created a sitcom, Mama's Family, based on characters from the skit. (Burnett reprised the Eunice Higgins character for the sitcom from time to time during the series run.) 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 by 20th Century Fox Studios. 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.
Vicki has made appearances on other programs, such as the sitcoms Laverne & Shirley (as the girls' mean drill sergeant, Alvinia T. Plout), Major Dad, Roseanne, Hannah Montana and Yes, Dear. She 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 '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. Vicki recently reprised her role as "Mama" for an Ohio commercial, promoting a constitutional amendment that would permit casino gambling in Ohio. She also played Dan's old high school flame, Phyllis, in an episode of Roseanne.
Vicki appeared on 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, Vicki got her start as one of the scores of bright-faced, wanna-be hopefuls on the syndicated "Johnny Mann's Stand Up And Cheer" program. But 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.
He Did With Me, Vicki's follow-up to "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," only managed to reach #75 in the United States, although it became her biggest hit in Australia reaching #1 there in November 1973. She followed it up there with Ships In The Night in 1974. A year later, in the fall of 1975, Vicki managed one last minor US chart entry on the Private Stock label with the anti-feminist curiosity "The Other Woman" (#81).
Vicki released a disco album entitled Newborn Woman late in 1979. The album produced the minor disco hit Don't Stop the Music which was released as a disco single. Unfortunately the anti-disco backlash was in full swing when the album was released and the album and single failed to chart.
As an emcee, she hosted the daytime NBC version of the game show Win, Lose or Draw, 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!, but the show was canceled after two seasons.
Vicki presently tours the country with her "two-woman" show with the first half as herself and the second half done as Thelma "Mama" Harper. She also currently can be 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.
Lawrence was previously married to Robert "Bobby" Russell from 1972-1974. Lawrence's second (and current) husband is Hollywood make-up artist, Al Schultz, to whom she has been married since November 16, 1974. They have two children, Courtney Allison Schultz (born May 5, 1975) and Garrett Lawrence Schultz (born July 3, 1977).
Vicki Lawrence on the Web
VIDEO: Vicki Lawrence as Homeless Mama « Feast of Fun The amazing Vicki Lawrence returns as her classic “Carol Burnett Show” and “Mama's Family” character, the lovable and ornery Mama Harper. In this wonderful clip, she spoofs the “Man with the Golden Voice,” Ted Williams. ...
~MileyDaily.com » Vicki Lawrence Talks About Miley During Recent ... Talking to Vicki Lawrence on the phone is like sharing a good dish with a favorite pal, or catching up with your funny sister-in-law. She's an entertaining gabber, endlessly good-humored, refreshingly down-to-earth and full of ...