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Mama's Family (TV Series 1983–1990) Poster

(1983–1990)

Trivia

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All of Vicki Lawrence's on-screen children (Ken Berry, Carol Burnett and Betty White) are older than her by at least 16 years.
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Carol Burnett stopped guest-starring after the second season, as she was divorcing the show's producer Joe Hamilton
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The show ended because Vicki Lawrence chose to leave the series.
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Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence were big fans of Dorothy Lyman who portrayed the role of the flamboyant Opal Sue Gardner on the long running soap opera All My Children (1970). It was Burnett who suggested Lyman for the role Naomi Harper (née Oates). During the first season of Mama's Family, Lyman continued to portray Opal. Every week, she flew from Los Angeles, where Mama's Family was shot, to New York City where All My Children was filmed. Lyman left All My Children after NBC renewed Mama's Family for a second season.
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In the majority of the episodes, the characters wear the same colored or similar-colored attire. Mama wears blue or purple, Vinton wears tan, Naomi wears yellow (though in earlier episodes she didn't), Iola wears pink, and Bubba wears green.
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Cancelled by NBC after two seasons, the series continued production for the syndication market for several more years, becoming one of the first dramatic or comedy series to successfully move off network and continue in syndication. A few years later, Baywatch (1989) would duplicate this feat with even greater success.
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Executive Producer Joe Hamilton of The Carol Burnett Show (1967) offered cast member Vicki Lawrence a spin-off show of the popular The Family Sketches after the eighth season of The Carol Burnett Show (1967) in 1975, but she turned it down as she was not sure she wanted to play an old lady every week and she did not want to leave her mentors Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman. Carol Burnett was said to have been happy about this. Vicki did not agree to do a spin off of the family until 1983 when her mentor Carol Burnett talked her into doing it.
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Vicki Lawrence and Ken Berry are the only actors who appeared in all 130 episodes of the show. After joining the cast in season 3, Allan Kayser appeared in all 95 syndicated episodes.
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In the last episode, Naomi gave birth to a daughter, Tiffany Thelma.
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Carol Burnett was originally supposed to play Mama and Vicki Lawrence was not even in the sketch until Carol Burnett suggested Vicki to play Mama after she wanted Eunice.
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Vinton's two teenage children, Buzz and Sonja who appear on the show from 1983-1985 were written out of the show in 1986, and no explanation was ever given for their whereabouts (many probably assumed that both Buzz and Sonja went to college and lived on their own). In the 1990 season, when Vinton wants to have another child, he says that if it's a boy, he will name it Vinton Jr., forgetting that Buzz's real name is Vinton Jr.
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Vicki Lawrence's "Mama" character was in her 60s, although Lawrence herself was 33 when she started this series.
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Dorothy Lyman had a crush on Ken Berry during the series.
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Beverly Archer got her accent by copying Vicki Lawrence's.
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Ed (Harvey Korman) and Eunice (Carol Burnett) were written out of the show by having them move to Florida.
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The town the family lives in is called Raytown, and every business there is a variation of the town name. Instead of having a McDonald's, they have McRay's. The town's upscale restaurant is called Chez Ray. Also, Raytown has two newspapers: the Bugle and the Courier.
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Lorna Luft was the producers' first choice to play Iola.
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It was Harvey Korman who suggested that Mama should be more toned down than she was in the previous years.
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Vicki Lawrence wrote lyrics to the theme song "Bless My Happy Home," though the producers chose to use an instrumental version over the credits instead.
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Thelma's late husband's name was Carl, and was almost never seen outside of the bathroom in flashbacks. In one instance, he was voiced by co-creator Dick Clair; in another, he was played by Ken Berry.
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Iola's middle name is Lucille.
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Betty White and Rue McClanahan were starring in "The Golden Girls" (1985) when "Mama's Family" returned to TV.
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Vinton's occupation was as a locksmith by trade for a place called Kwik-Keys. Naomi worked at a grocery store called Food Circus; she was a checker when the show began, but eventually worked her way up to being the assistant manager.
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In real life, Dorothy Lyman is two years older than Vicki Lawrence and Beverly Archer was one year older.
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Vinton's first wife's name was Mitzi. She is mentioned in the first episode, when Vinton and his kids move in with Thelma. She left Vinton to become a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas.
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Began as a skit on the The Carol Burnett Show (1967) with Vicki Lawrence (Mama), Carol Burnett (Eunice), Harvey Korman (Ed) and Betty White (Ellen).
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Some of the episodes in the first two seasons feature an introduction from Harvey Korman as Alistair Quince.
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Vicki Lawrence's favorite episodes were "The Wedding" and "Rashomama".
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Naomi married three times; first to Tommy Ray, second to Leonard Oates, and third to Vinton.
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The original address of Mama's house is 1 Old Decatur Road.
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Raytown is an actual town in Missouri. In the TV special "Eunice", they reference St. Louis being a couple of hours away.
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Iola's mother and father are often talked about, but never shown. Correction: in the episode where mama get her drivers license, she yells out the window "hey Mrs. Boylen... Watch me burn rubber" as they show an old lady throwing out garbage.
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The opening credits of the series in its first two seasons would only credit the main cast in episodes their characters appeared in. This allowed for Betty White and Carol Burnett to be credited as Guest Stars in the opening credits instead of the closing. When the series moved to syndication in 1986, this was eliminated, and all the main cast was credited for each episode. The exception to this is Mama's Family: Best Medicine (1986), in which Betty White was credited in the opening credits as a "Special Guest Star".
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Betty White used her real car a 1979 Cadillac Seville given to her by her husband as a present.
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The name of the club that Thelma and Iola belonged to was the Church Ladies League.
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It was Vicki Lawrence's Mentor Carol Burnett who talked Vicki into doing Mama's Family (1983) saying, "You really have to do this"
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The actual house that was used in the opening and closing credits for the show is located in South Pasadena, California.
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Ellen's husband's name was Bruce. He was never shown.
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Whenever Mama (Vicki Lawrence) was angry at Eunice (Carol Burnett), she would refer to her as "Missy".
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Bubba (Allan Kayser) joined the show at the beginning of the the third season. He was in reform school, and put in Mama's custody as a condition of his probation.
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The name of the tavern that Vinton always visited was "The Bigger Jigger".
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Although Iola Boylan is Mama's neighbor and is always at the house, and even in some episodes, remarks about knowing Vint, Ellen and Eunice when they were young, she was nowhere to be seen during the first two seasons.
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During the course of Mama's Family, Dorothy Lyman was also playing a full time role on the Daytime Drama All My Children, resulting in her making continual travel between Los Angeles and New York where each show was filmed.
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Whenever Eunice got mad at Mama, she called her "Old Lady".
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Tim Conway played Mickey in the "Family" skits on The Carol Burnett Show (1967) but never appeared on the series.
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The name of the theater where Eunice would go to practice her acting was the Pepperpot Playhouse.
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Bubba was Ed and Eunice's son.
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Whenever she saw something that she thought was obscene or dirty, Mama would remark, "What kind of a smut show is this?"
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Aunt Fran's car was a 1974 Dodge Dart Sport.
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The house used for The Harper Family house in exterior shots is located at 1027 Montrose Ave. S. Pasadena, Ca. 91030.
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The end of the opening credits always had Mama walking out front to pick up the newspaper from the lawn.
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Ed (Harvey Korman) ran a hardware store.
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Whenever her feet hurt, Mama would say, "My dogs are barking."
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Vinton's best friend at the Bigger Jigger was Claude Cainmaker. He was played by Geoffery Lewis.
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Bubba usually has his name printed somewhere on his shirt.
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Like Aunt Fran...Thelma's husband died in a bathroom.
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Reverend Meechum's first name was Lloyd. His wife's first name was Alberta.
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Mama's archnemesis throughout the series was the often-discussed but never seen Roselle Huplander who Mama always described by some variation of being overweight.
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Rue McClanahan's exit from the series came from a character re-write for the character of Aunt Fran. McClanahan said in an interview 'They re-wrote the character and I didn't know how to play her anymore. I had the way I played her, but when they changed it, it was difficult to play her after the re-write'. Aunt Fran was written out after season 2.
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Whenever she sensed that trouble was about to start, Mama would say "Uh oh".
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One of the only times Iola did not wear her signature pink dress was at Aunt Fran's funeral. She wore black, although the pattern was the same as her pink dress.
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Whenever someone blamed Mama for anything, she would say "Don't lay this on my doorstep".
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Aunt Fran (Rue McClanahan) was written out by having her die while choking on a toothpick in the bathroom of the Bigger Jigger.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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