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Vicki Lawrence’s Love Story with Husband of 47 Years Started after Co-star Saw Him Walking in Corridor

Gaone Pule
Mar 28, 2022
07:00 P.M.
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Talented actress Vicki Lawrence started playing her famous character Mama Thelma Harper when she was only 24 on "The Carol Burnett Show." Mama was in her 60s, and now that Lawrence is about the same age, she looks relatively young.  


Vicki Lawrence's acting career flourished from the comedy series "The Carol Burnett Show," which ran for 11 seasons from 1967 to 1978. Lawrence credits her co-star Carol Burnett for all the good things that happened in her life.  

However, her first brief marriage was not one of those good things. Since then, the actress has been through thick and thin with her second husband. Here are more details about Lawrence's personal life and relationship.  

(L) Actress Vicki Lawrence as Thelma 'Mama' Crowley Harper in the 1983 sitcom "Mama's Family." (R) Vicki Lawrence with her husband Al Schultz. / Source: Getty Images and Instagram/@vickilawrence_official



Because Burnett has been the lucky charm in Lawrence's life, the ladies have avoided talking business to maintain their friendship. Lawrence started acting on "The Burnett Show" when she was only 18: 

"I wasn't in a position to ask for anything, so I got the shaft." 

After five years on the TV show, the comedian made $800 a week. Later, with "Mama's Family," she played hard to get and received a good deal.  

Vicki Lawrence (left) and actress Carol Burnett on "The Carol Burnett Show," on September 23, 1967. / Source: Getty Images


Lawrence revealed her mother pushed her to greatness. She had a striking resemblance to Burnett in high school, and local papers noticed that. 

Adding that to her advantage, young Lawrence sent the clippings to Burnett accompanied by a fan letter. A year later, her future friend chose her to play her kid sister over many of more experienced performers: 

"The whole thing was based on Carol's intuition." 

For a while, it seemed wrong because Lawrence considered herself incredibly incompetent. She attempted to study drama at UCLA but was forced to drop out because she missed too many classes. 


From top left: Vicki Lawrence, actor Harvey Korman, Carol Burnett and actor Tim Conway pictured in a studio portrait of the comedy variety series, "The Carol Burnett Show," in 1975. / Source: Getty Images

The TV star stated: "I got my education in front of the whole country." After Burnett, then pregnant with her first child, received the letter, she drove to Inglewood, California, to see her perform at the Fireman's Ball.  


Recalling back to that period, Lawrence shared Burnett used to tell a funny story about coming down the freeway to see her, and the actress's husband would say: "What the hell is she, a jockey?" and she replied: 

"You know what? I have a hunch. I'm pregnant. Just indulge me." 


When Burnett finally gave birth, they announced that she was at Saint John's on the radio. Lawrence was on her way to a recording studio at the time and decided to take a detour to the hospital so she could say hi.

The Hollywood darling arrived at the medical facility, where she entered the maternity ward and asked to see the comedian. While there, Lawrence was mistaken for being Burnett's sister, Chrissie.  

After finally getting to see her, Burnett, who was polite to her, reassured Lawrence that she had not forgotten about her and promised to call back soon.  


The young aspiring actress eventually received a call to come to CBS. The executives explained the show they were putting together and asked if she would be willing to audition to play Burnett's sister. 

"The suits {executives} came and asked Carol if we could get a 'real actress' because I was 'very rough.' And Carol said, 'Yes, she's a diamond in the rough,'" Lawrence recalled.  

Speaking on the surreal experience at the time, the pop singer shared: "It was like it was meant to be one way or the other just based on her crazy hunch, which she had a lot." 



While settling in Hollywood fame and success, Lawrence encountered a bad experience. At 23 years old, she married her first spouse Bobby Russell.  

But her marriage to the country singer "lasted about 10 minutes," said Lawrence. The former couple wed on June 29, 1972, and divorced in 1974. Russell died on November 19, 1992, from coronary artery disease.  

He was born in April 1941 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was a writer known for "The Marcus-Nelson Murders" (1973) and "The Grasshopper" (1970). The singer-songwriter had a Top 30 crossover hit song in 1971 with "Saturday Morning Confusion." 


He and his wife recorded the song "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," which climbed to No.1 on the charts. The record is about a man who confesses about sleeping with another man's wife and gets murdered.  

Initially, Russell did not like the song and felt people in the South would not receive it, while Lawrence thought he was "keeping a hit song in his back pocket." 

So, she took the plunge and recorded it, and to her surprise, the song did exceptionally well amid her divorce from Russell. Lawrence later joked

"It was one of the few good things that came out of that marriage!" 



Eventually, the red-haired beauty gave marriage another shot when she met her second husband, make-up artist Al Schultz, who began his career in the mid-sixties. Schultz studied under the legendary Harry Maret, a fellow make-up artist to Hollywood starlets such as Marilyn Monroe and Doris Day.  

NBC TV gave Schultz his initial break, and there he worked on "Laugh-In" and "Hollywood Squares." Schultz's big break came in 1968 when the Make-Up Artist's Union sent him to CBS Television City. 

Burnett noticed him walking by her dressing room while there and paid more attention to his rugged, good looks. However, his quick-witted, no-nonsense approach to make-up kept him with Burnett for nearly a decade.  


Vicki Lawrence with husband make-up artist Alvin Schultz during the Third Annual American Comedy Awards on May 23, 1989 at Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California. / Source: Getty Images

The writer told her secretary that Schultz was adorable and wanted him on "The Carol Burnett Show." It was there that he met and fell in love with his future wife, Lawrence.  


In 1975, Lawrence revealed how her pal Burnett saved her job when she was unaware, just how close she came to being fired. Before she gave birth to her eldest child Courtney, CBS almost had her laid off for being pregnant.  

Luckily for her, Burnett missed doing "The Family" sketches so much that she asked the producers to bring her back. "Carol has been largely responsible for most everything in my adult life," said Lawrence.  


Meanwhile, that same year, romance blossomed between her and Schultz, who continued to do her make-up until the show went off the air. She gushed over her husband: 

"You'd think he'd be a real moose, but he's got a gentle touch. Who else could be so good in bed, then put your lashes back on in the morning?" 

Lawrence and Schultz welcomed two children together, daughter Courtney, 46, in May 1975, and their 44-year-old son Garrett arrived in July 1977.  


When it comes to aging, the now 72-year-old told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in March 2016 that she realized how old her Mama character was back in the day: 

"I used to say Mama was 65 and holding. Now that I've reached that age, I realize she must be much older!" 

The former Hollywood prodigy was the star of her sitcom "Mama's Family," which ran from 1983 to 1990. She has always had a deep affection for the character and admitted that the more she got older, the more she began liking her. 

"Funny thing is the older I get, the more I think I like her. You reach an age where you don't have time to mince words. You say what you're thinking. I think you earn that right," Lawrence said, "she's like my evil twin, my husband's nightmare." 



From having a joyous ride playing the unforgettable Mama Thelma, Lawrence endured some health issues when she suffered a mysterious illness before diagnosis. The veteran star opened up about how she coped with it in October 2020 during an interview with Closer Weekly.  

The pop singer revealed it all started when the itching began on her stomach while walking her dogs. It spread to her back, thighs, and buttocks when she arrived home.  


Lawrence had red welts everywhere, and for the next six weeks, she underwent several allergy tests. To get the discomfort under control, the California native had icy showers and put on menthol and camphor lotions: 

"I was very frustrated. It's a very isolating condition because nobody can relate." 


Through it all, her beloved husband Schultz showered her with immense support, and she spoke highly of him, deeming him her best friend: 

"He was such a strong support system. When you marry your best friend, you always have someone to laugh with." 


Following weeks of a bunch of tests, doctors found no external cause for Lawrence's itching, and she was diagnosed with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU). There is no cure for the condition, but it can be managed. Since then, the "Eunice" star shared

"I haven't seen a hive now in a good number of years." 


The esteemed performer often shares tributes to her spouse of 47 years on social media, telling fans how lucky she is to be married to the father of her kids. In November 2019, she posted an anniversary tribute on Instagram, writing

"45 years ago today, I married this guy. I'd do it all again. The #goodstuff the #hardstuff #the fun #the tears the #laughter...omg the laughter! #happyanniversary to The Captain of My Heart."  

Lawrence posted the sweet message alongside throwback snapshots of the happy couple. One image showed the pair posing while holding drinks with the "Vicki!" star standing behind her seated husband placing her right hand on his shoulder.  


In November 2018, Lawrence paid a 44th-anniversary tribute to Schultz alongside a black and white photo of the widely-beaming duo. She referred to him as her best friend, lover, baby daddy, and the captain of her heart.  

Last year, Lawrence commemorated the couple's nearly 50-year marriage with a gallery of throwback photos with one displaying Schultz kissing her on the cheek and captioned the post: "47 years ago today!! #goodlord #hardtobelieve #justacoupleofkids #truelove I'd do it all again."


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