Vicki Lawrence was proud of her role as Burnett's ''sidekick''

Standing in the shadow suited Lawrence just fine.

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"The star has great power and great glory," Vicki Lawrence told The Daily News in 1977. The then-27-year-old was decidedly not the star of the show she appeared on. With a program named The Carol Burnett Show, it's not hard to guess who the real star was. Still, though, Lawrence was happy with her role on the program, happily deferring to her decade-older lookalike to lead the ship. 

While Vicki Lawrence was a student at UCLA, she contacted Carol Burnett, sending the established comedian fan mail. The letter she wrote indicated that people frequently mistook Lawrence for Burnett, as they had similar hair and features. Because she was just a fan, Lawrence didn't expect any response and opted to not include a return address. However, Burnett was charmed by the letter, which stood out due to how well it was written. She tracked Lawrence down using just the surname and postmark included in the message.

"One day," Lawrence recalled, "the telephone rang. It was Carol Burnett. I was too stunned to speak. At first, I thought it was a bad practical joke. But it really was Carol Burnett. And that was good. Very good!" A very-pregnant Burnett then attended the event in which Lawrence was crowned Miss Fireball after singing, dancing, and telling a joke at the Hollywood Park Fireman's Ball. Three months later, CBS invited Lawrence to audition for a part in The Carol Burnett Show

Lawrence, though, never had quite the same aspirations as her co-star. "I'm basically lazy," she said. "I'm happy just eating and sleeping the day away. If I had my wish, I'd spend the rest of my life on a sunny beach." When pressed about the possibility of a Vicki Lawrence special, the actress shrugged off the possibility, never too invested in the situation to feel strongly one way or the other. "If it comes, it comes."

Lawrence said she's ambitious but nowhere near as ambitious as Carol Burnett. "I've watched Carol take the blame when things go wrong. I'm very comfortable with the way things are." 

It seems that, although she loved her time on The Carol Burnett Show, Vicki Lawrence was more than happy to stand in the shadow of her more-famous co-star. With great power comes great responsibility, and that added pressure can be a little overwhelming. Instead, Lawrence could play second fiddle while also reaping the benefits of stardom. At the time of her 1977 interview with The Daily News, she was living in a sleek, Spanish-style hacienda in Beverly Hills. 

Of course, Vicki Lawrence couldn't stay in the background forever. Her "Mama" character proved so immensely popular in her recurring Burnett Show sketches that Lawrence was given her own spin-off, and Mama's Family was born.

Watch The Carol Burnett Show on MeTV!

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Sundays at 10:30 PM

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10 Comments

StrayCat 13 months ago
There was an episode during the opening where Carol said that Vicki plays her sister in many sketches but she wanted to introduce her real sister. So Carol brought her up on the stage. The interesting thing is that Vicki resembled Carol way more than her actual sister.
CortneyNicole 13 months ago
Great story of Miss Vicki Lawrence and I adore her or the Carol Burnett show and Mama's Family. Thank you so much MeTV for sharing! :)
Runeshaper 13 months ago
GREAT story, MeTV! Thanks for sharing! (-:
LoveMETV22 13 months ago
What a nice picture of Mrs. Lawrence and a nice story as well. Thanks MeTV !
texasluva LoveMETV22 13 months ago
Come one come all to the MeTv Friday Night Movie Quiz. See you @ Were these actors seen on My Three Sons? 9 P.M. Sharp (Friday) CT.
Where everyone can take a guess or make comments to other quizzers.
There will be extra bonus movies for just coming by. Including entertainment for all. Feel free to ask questions, copy movie links and just plain join in the fun via communication. The MQ will be up until the movie is guessed and an hour to look over and pick out what you wish. Have fun doing so. There are no wrong answers but the first one to guess the correct movie gets their names put up for getting it correctly.
Good luck and enjoy
Pacificsun 13 months ago
It's an easy show to watch every night as a nice alternative to the News! Keep it going!
Andybandit 13 months ago
She had a good role on TCBS. She kind of looks like Carol Burnett.
MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
Loved that show. Wish it aired earlier on ME.
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