Stars We Loved & Lost in 2019: Vicki Lawrence Remembers Tim Conway

The Carol Burnett Show
CBS via Getty Images
Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Carol Burnett in The Carol Burnett Show

Tim Conway, December 15, 1933–May 14, 2019

Tim Conway and Vicki Lawrence sent audiences into uproarious laughter as ensemble members of the legendary sketch comedy/variety hour The Carol Burnett Show (1967–78). Though Conway was initially a guest star and didn’t join the full-time cast until 1975, the characters he embodied (like frustrated businessman Mr. Tudball and the slow-moving Oldest Man) kept viewers in stitches.

Lawrence recalls her time with the comic mastermind.

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The biggest thing I learned from Tim was timing and how far, if you have the ball, you can push the audience and have them rolling and howling by just holding a look or repeating a line. [Onstage with him,] you’d hold your breath and try not to break. Carol used to bite the inside of her cheek.

He was a gymnast in college, so he was incredibly agile. Once, as the Oldest Man, he rolled in slow-motion down the stairs. That’s not easy! For some of his physical tricks, he’d build things in the back of the studio with the prop man, like an oversize doorknob so he could play a butler sliding around on it.

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I didn’t know until after the Burnett Show was off that he was dyslexic. Carol said it was always hard for him to read a script. He sure could write jokes, though.

Tim was a lovely man. I don’t remember ever seeing him angry. He lived to make people laugh.

As told to Kate Hahn