Everett Collection

Vicki Lawrence: ''I was very shy when I started on The Carol Burnett Show''

There's a certain poise we come to expect from actors. After all, they're up there on that televised pedestal. Clearly, something is operating them from the rest of us. There must be some unattainable trait they possess that makes them different. But, it turns out, people are people no matter where they are or where they work. It's heartening to realize that a lot of our stars are closer to us than you might think. 

For example, Vicki Lawrence, special as she may be, had a lot of the same anxieties one might expect to feel from a regular gig. When she skyrocketed to fame fresh out of high school, it wasn't with some supernatural confidence the rest of us lacked. She had an incredible stage presence that overshadowed a very natural and expected set of feelings.

In the 1993 book Let's Talk: America's Favorite Talk Show Hosts, Lawrence spoke about how she felt when she joined the show.

"I was very shy when I started on The Carol Burnett Show. Becoming a person has been a long, slow process. But I've grown up. I'm not afraid to say what I think."

As someone who began appearing on a weekly variety show while still a teenager, Vicki Lawrence might sometimes be perceived as someone with a singular vision that she followed to fame. The truth, though, is that she thought she would have a regular life.

Before the TV offer, Lawrence planned to become a dental hygienist. Her path would lead her to marry a rich dentist "and spend the rest of my life shopping." Like many of us, Lawrence said that a life in show business "never dawned on me." 

Despite how she appears onscreen, Lawrence still had a nervous time growing into her role on The Carol Burnett Show.

"Actually I was scared to death to be there because I didn't feel I deserved it. My career was more or less a gift from Carol, rather than something I suffered for. I was embarrassed to say 'Hi' to anyone, for fear they would start laughing at me. Really."

Looking back on her first weeks on the show, she says, "I was awful. I was the worst. I had trouble finding the ladies' room."

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