Who is Vicki Lawrence?
Born Vicki Anne Axelrad, Vicki Lawrence is an Emmy-winning actress, comedienne, and singer, mostly known by her 11-year stint on The Carol Burnett Show until the program folded in 1978; afterwards, she starred on her own sitcom Mama’s Family, which was based on her famous role fromThe Carol Burnett Show’s sketch. As a singer, Lawrence could be classified as a one-hit wonder via the 1974 chart topper “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”. She also released a disco LP calledNewborn Woman in the late 1970s. Lawrence had other minor charting singles: “He Did With Me” and her last, “The Other Woman.” She presently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Early life and successful stint on “The Carol Burnett Show”
Actress, comedienne and singer Vicki Lawrence was born Victoria Anne Axelrad on March 26, 1949 in Inglewood, California. Even when she was younger she already had a flair for entertaining and performing. When she was in high school, Lawrence joined the performing group The Young Americans, where she remained until she finished high schools.
A class valedictorian, Lawrence planned to take up a career in dental hygiene in the future, but her love of performing even made her to shift her college course into theater arts. However, she was already working on The Carol Burnette Show while attending UCLA, taking up a major of theater arts.
She actually applied for the job to Carol Burnette herself, sending her a newspaper clipping that showed an uncanny physical resemblance to each other. Lawrence even asked Burnett to attend the former’s “Miss Fireball Contest” in California, which Burnett did. In 1967 Lawrence was hired to play as Burnett’s onscreen sister. From there, Lawrence’s career flourished; because her career was doing extremely well, she dropped out of college and pursued acting full-time.
Lawrence would stay with The Carol Burnette Show for over a decade. Her stint brought her numerous Emmy Award nominations, including one win — Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 1976. She also starred on other shows such as The Love Boat, Carol Burnett and Company, Laverne and Shirley as well as guestings as panelist on game shows including The $25,000 Pyramid and Super Password.
Singing and recording career
As far as her singing career is concerned, Lawrence started it when she was one of the contestants on the syndicated show Johnny Mann’s Stand Up and Cheer. To further improve her singing, she even flew to Vietnam (along with radio veteran and TV producer Johnny Grant) to sing for the US troops.
Lawrence’s singing career was not a prolific as her television career, but it was illustrious at one point. In 1973, she had a hit with a song called “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” which was written by her first husband, singer-songwriter Bobby Russell. It was also the title track of Lawrence’s debut album, which was released on Bell label in 1973 (the LP went to #51 on the Billboard 200 album chart).
“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” topped the Billboard Hot 100 that same year. It also reached #6 on the adult contemporary singles chart, and #36 on the country singles chart.
Later life and career
However, her following singles only became minor hits — “He Did With Me” in 1973 (#75 pop, #14 adult contemporary), “Ships in the Night” in 1974 (#49 adult contemporary) and “The Other Woman” in 1975 (#81 pop). In 1979 Lawrence even came out with a disco album, Newborn Woman, which featured a minor hit with “Don’t Stop the Music.”
Nowadays, she has been mostly devoting her time doing motivational speeches and charity work. She’s been married for almost 40 years to Hollywood make-up artist Al Schultz, with whom she has two children.