Vicki Lawrence moved to Hawaii in 1979 with thoughts of retirement

"I'd love to open up a dress shop," she said.

As the Seventies came to a close, Vicki Lawrence, her second husband Al Schultz and two children loaded up their sailboat and set sail for Maui. The family was moving to Hawaii. What better way to get there than a 41-foot ketch? In 1978, The Carol Burnett Show had come to an end after 11 successful years. Lawrence had been on the comedy series from the very beginning, since she was a teenager. During that run, she had recorded a hit No. 1 single, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia." She had cut three albums. She had appeared on dozens of episodes of the game show Pyramid

In 1979, she had only just turned 30. But Lawrence was thinking about stepping away from Hollywood. 

"I'd love to open up a dress shop [in Hawaii]," she told the Associated Press. "I have a fascination with cash registers."

The comedy natural added, "If they canceled show business tomorrow I don't think I'd slit my wrists."

After all, when she was young, she dreamed of becoming a dental hygienist. This helps explain why she so casually considered walking  — well, sailing — away from the spotlight.

"I'd like to get out of performing and just produce records," she admitted.

A decade later, a Tribune profile explained that she and Al intended for their Hawaii move to be a "semi-retirement" — "but the lack of work became boring."

Sitcom fans can be thankful for that boredom. As in 1983, Lawrence revived her beloved Thelma Harper character from The Carol Burnett Show for the long-running Mama's Family.

But Lawrence was determined to keep a healthy work-life balance. "I have what are almost part-time hours," Lawrence told the Tribune in 1988. The shooting schedule on Mama's Family allowed for her to spend quality time with her actual family.

"I look at someone like Cybill Shepherd, wonder how often she gets to see her family," Lawrence mused. "And I know I'm incredibly lucky to be where I am."

Lawrence did get a chance to return to Hawaii as Mama. In season four of Mama's Family, Thelma wins a tropical vacation on Jeopardy! and the Harpers travel to Honolulu. The two-part episode "Mama Goes Hawaiian" was filmed on location in the Aloha State. Now you know, it was a homecoming of sorts for the star.

We're just glad the lure of cash registers was not enough to keep her in Hawaii permanently.

Watch Mama's Family on MeTV!

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27 Comments

Tim 21 months ago
If omly she had opened a dress shop... Instead of stretching the most unpleasant skit on the Burnett show into a full half hour a week of nasty pea brains bickering. The comedy equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.
F5Twitster 21 months ago
"Thelma wins a tropical vacation on Jeopardy! and the Harpers travel to Honolulu."

"Jeopardy!", not even fictional "Jeopardy!", has never offered prizes other than the cash contestants accumulate.
Jon F5Twitster 21 months ago
JEOPARDY did offer trips & other merchandise for 2nd & 3rd place finishers until the early 2000s, at which time the show switched to cash prizes for 2nd & 3rd place. Usually only the 2nd place finisher, like Mama on the show, won a trip. As far as I know though, the show didn't provide trips for 4 people, usually limiting them to 2.
sputnik_57 21 months ago
Let me guess...a dress shop that sells only muumuu's...?
Andybandit 21 months ago
I like Vicki Lawrence, I liked her in the Cool Kids that was on Fox network, and Mama's families.
Wiseguy Andybandit 21 months ago
How many families does she have?
prm8080 21 months ago
I wished MeTV would play more than an hour of Mama’s Family on Sundays.
prm8080 21 months ago
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prm8080 stephaniestavr5 21 months ago
Yup, more Mama’s Family!! To each it’s own lol
daDoctah prm8080 21 months ago
Maybe we could get you a block of "Madame's Place". Would you like that?
daDoctah 21 months ago
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I would love to see that again! Fun Fact: the cast included a very young Corey Feldman!
daDoctah cperrynaples 21 months ago
And a post-Here Come the Brides Susan Tolsky I might want to watch it just for that reason; she was fun.
cperrynaples 21 months ago
The islands attracted a lot of MeTV stars, including Jim Nabors, Gary Burghoff and even Carol herself! They all lived there part time in the '80's, and Gary still does!
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cperrynaples 21 months ago
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denny cperrynaples 21 months ago
Never heard of Burghoff living in Hawaii. He lives in a trailer park in Florida, because he loves to fish, and owns a home in Connecticut where he was busted for DUI years ago.
denny cperrynaples 21 months ago
Jim loved nuts.
cperrynaples denny 21 months ago
Burghoff did indeed live in Hawaii after leaving MASH! Didn't know he moved, but I know he's alive!
Stoney 21 months ago
I don't think I could get bored in Hawaii. I might go broke, but I wouldn't get bored lol
TheDavBow3 Stoney 21 months ago
I've heard about the "broke" part. It isn't all "Hawaii Five-0" and "Magnum" I hear.
Stoney TheDavBow3 21 months ago
Yeah. My brother-in-law was stationed there while he was in the Air Force, and he said the cost of living was outrageous.
Michael Stoney 21 months ago
They don't say "free shipping to lower 48 states" for nothing.
Stoney Michael 21 months ago
Good point! Lol
JHP Stoney 21 months ago
well a gallon of milk would be $6
JHP Stoney 21 months ago
when it comes to Gary Burghoff

EVEN I would live in Iowa with (Marilyn Jones) (look it up)...she was a El Grande doll!

wouldnt give a "D" about Hawaii
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