Carol Burnett had childhood dreams of being on stage. However, her mother was less than encouraging young Carol’s dreams. Instead of becoming a stage actress, her mother tried to steer her into a writing career. However, her mom did not encourage her to be a writer for the best reasons.
Carol’s mother would always tell her, “No matter what you look like, you can always write, you know.” These passive-aggressive statements made no secret of how Carol’s mother felt about her daughter’s looks. Thankfully, this lack of support at home didn’t dissuade Carol from pursuing her true passion for acting.
All in the Family
Carol Burnett fans undoubtedly know about the recurring comedy sketch called “The Family.” The sketch was so popular that it got a spin-off sitcom, “Mama’s Family,” in the 80s. What a lot of fans don’t know, however, is that Carol Burnett and the show writers had a major disagreement about the sketch when it originally debuted.
The writers created the character of Mama for Carol Burnett. However, Carol wanted to cast co-star Vicki Lawrence as the matriarch of the family so she could play the daughter, Eunice. The writers hated the idea. Vicki was much younger than Carol, and the idea didn’t make sense to them. They went through with Carol’s casting, and the sketch went on to be wildly popular.
Carol’s Riskiest Role
Out of all of Carol’s iconic characters, Eunice Higgins from “The Family” was her favorite one to play. The sketch was originally written as a Midwestern family, but Carol insisted that the characters should be Southern. Everyone else on the show was afraid that the Southern accent would offend viewers, but it was the exact opposite.
“The Family” characters weren’t caricatures or stereotypes. Their Southern accents and ways of communicating directly related to Carol’s childhood growing up in Texas. The recurring sketch turned into a humorous commentary on family dysfunction and passive-aggressive conflict that many people related to.
When Vicki Met Carol
Vicki Lawrence starred on “The Carol Burnett Show” from 1967 to 1978. However, how she was recruited to join the show is pretty unorthodox. The real life friendship between Carol and Vicki started when Vicki sent Carol a fan letter. Not expecting a reply, Vicki wrote how people always said she looked like she could be Carol’s daughter.
Surprisingly, Carol Burnett actually responded to Vicki’s letter with a phone call. The two connected and they met in real life at a Miss Fireball contest that Vicki was competing in. The two hit it off, and the rest, as they say, was history.
Vicki Lawrence’s First Role
Vicki Lawrence was only a teenager when she joined the cast of “The Carol Burnett Show.” Many people saw a striking resemblance between Carol Burnett and Vicki, and the show played into the resemblance. Vicki’s first role was as “Chrissie,” Carol’s younger sister, in the “Carol and Sis” sketch.
“Carol and Sis” was where Vicki learned the ropes. Carol, Harvey Korman, and the rest of the cast and crew taught her all about comedic timing, prop work, and stage direction. “The Carol Burnett Show” ended up being a wonderful, successful place for Vicki Lawrence to nurture and grow her skills.