Long Beach’s Vicki Lawrence returns to television after 30 years

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Longtime Long Beach resident Vicki Lawrence is best known as an ensemble player in the iconic “Carol Burnett Show” and later as the star of “Mama’s Family,” which ran from 1983 to 1990.
Now Lawrence, 69, finds herself starring in a TV show for the first time in 30 years. “The Cool Kids” centers around a group of trouble-making seniors who, according to Fox publicists, believe “growing old with dignity is for chumps.” Lawrence plays the bawdy, rum-swilling, tech-savvy Margaret. Her co-stars are David Alan Grier, Martin Mull and Leslie Jordan.
Lawrence didn’t want to audition for the show, saying she was often told she was too young for parts because people expected “Mama” to show up. The script called for someone in their 70s, “And I’m like, ‘You know what? I know I’m old, but I’m not 70 yet, so no, I don’t want to go read,’” Lawrence said in a recent interview.
She also didn’t want to drive to the casting office in Santa Monica to read. She got talked into it by her agent around the time she was shooting “The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special.” She read for the part and the casting agent proceeded to ask her about the chemistry on “The Carol Burnett Show.”
As she told the New York Post, she used to look with pity on 405 commuters and told herself, “I will never be one of those idiots that does that every day.’ Now I’m one of those idiots.”
Lawrence grew up in Inglewood and now, married to Al Schultz – who was the makeup artist for “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Planet of the Apes” – lives in the Long Beach neighborhood of Naples. She spoke recently about what it’s like to return to sitcoms and actually play someone her own age.
You spent most of your career as a young woman playing an older woman, “Mama” on “The Carol Burnett Show,” which ran from 1967-’78, and in your own show. Now you’re an older woman playing an older woman. Which is more fun?