Vicki Lawrence got her start through Carol Burnett when she was only 17

Vicki Lawrence and Carol Burnett's friendship started in one of the most unique ways.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Vicki Lawrence became an icon both in the comedy scene and nationally, but she didn't reach that success alone. With the help of Carol Burnett, she was able to get her start on The Carol Burnett Show as well as a starring role as Mama in Mama's Family.

There is no denying the friendship between Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence. It's a friendship most aspire to have, but it's also a friendship that started in one of the most unique ways possible.

In the late '60s, Lawrence decided to take a leap of faith. She was only 17-years-old when she sent a piece of fan mail to Burnett. Inside was a newspaper article, in which the reporter noted their resemblance, and a fan letter hand-written by Lawrence. 

To her surprise, this piece of fan mail didn't go unnoticed. At the time, Burnett was searching for someone to play her sister on The Carol Burnett Show. Luckily for Lawrence, the resemblance between the two was striking.

Lawrence entered the Miss Fireball contest hosted by the local fire department in her hometown of Inglewood, California. Burnett phoned a speechless Lawrence and told her she wanted to attend the contest.

Imagine THAT pressure.

Pregnant at the time, Burnett did indeed show up to watch Lawrence's performance. 

The next thing that happened? Well, Lawrence got a call from CBS, asking her to audition for the role of Burnett's sister.

"The suits [executives] came and asked Carol if we could get a 'real actress' because I was 'very rough,'" Lawrence said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. "And Carol said 'Yes, she's a diamond in the rough!'"

Spoiler alert: she got the part on The Carol Burnett Show.

The legacy that came from a simple fan letter is proof that taking a leap of faith can pay off. Lawrence and Burnett became a duo that would go down in history for creating some of the funniest sketches, scripts and more.

"Carol was all about [the adage that] you are only as good as the people who surround you," Lawrence said. "She would cheer for everyone around her in support of the whole, rather than just herself."

The two had a friendship that really meant something to both of them. When no one knew who Lawrence was, Burnett did.

So, next time you find a celebrity look alike, seriously consider sending a piece of fan mail. You never know who is going to be in your corner.

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MichaelFields 19 months ago
They say I look like "The Rock" if he was over weight, had no muscles and was in his 60's,...other then that we could be twins
GoUTVols1961 MichaelFields 19 months ago
You are my long lost brother!
nightshade 19 months ago
didn't they have a falling out about Mama's family tho?
Runeshaper 19 months ago
That’s such a GREAT story! 🙂
Andybandit 19 months ago
Vicki Lawrence is a good actress.
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