Mama's Family originated with Thelma "Mama" Harper, and her younger sister Fran living together in Mama's House.Mama's Family originated with Thelma "Mama" Harper, and her younger sister Fran living together in Mama's House.Mama's Family originated with Thelma "Mama" Harper, and her younger sister Fran living together in Mama's House.
"Mama's Family" mined comedy from a squabbling family in the Midwestern blue collar town of Raytown,USA. The noisy clan was headed by Thelma "Mama" Harper(Vicki Lawrence),a buxom,gray-haired widow with sharp opinions and a sharper tongue who shared her small house with her high-strung sister,Fran(Rue McClanahan),a journalist for a local paper. Mama's lazy,dim-witted son,Vinton(Ken Berry),a locksmith by trade,moved in at the start of the series with his troublesome teenage children Buzz(Eric Brown)and Sonja(Karin Argroud),after his wife ran off to become a Las Vegas showgirl. Much to Mama's disgust,Vint soon took up with the town slut,a flirtatous neighbor Naomi Oates("that floozy!")whom he would become engaged to and eventually marry in the show's first season. From there a battle of wits would ensue when Naomi moves in with Vint giving Mama Harper various fits. The role of Naomi Oates was played by Dorothy Lyman(of "All My Children" fame and later on would direct and write several episodes of the series) Further uproar was caused by the periodic visits of Mama's two married daughters,the foulmouthed Eunice(Carol Burnett)and the snobbish Ellen(Betty White),and later on Mama's best friend,the prissyish Iola(Beverly Archer)and Vint's co-worker Bubba Higgins(Allan Kayser). Ed(Harvey Korman)was Eunice's dolt of a husband. During the series entire run only actors Vicki Lawrence,Ken Berry,Dorothy Lyman,and Harvey Korman remain throughout the entire run of the show when it was on NBC and later when it went into first-run syndication.
The program was based on a series of sketches that were originally seen on "The Carol Burnett Show" and later made into the highly-rated special titled "Eunice" in 1982. During the first two seasons of the show,when it was on NBC,each episode began with a short,pompous introduction by "your host" Alistair Quince(Harvey Korman),seen seated in his arm chair. NBC aired reruns of "Mama's Family" during the summer of 1985. When the series ended its run on NBC-TV in August of 1985,two principal actors(Rue McClanahan and Betty White)went on to greater glory with "The Golden Girls",which premiered that same year. It was the show "The Golden Girls" that replaced "Mama's Family" on the NBC network after it was cancelled.
In the fall of 1986,"Mama's Family" was cancelled by NBC and returned to TV in first-run syndication where it remained until 1990. Fran recently passed away and Ed and Eunice had moved to Florida. They had neglected to mention this to their delinquent son Bubba,who,after serving a term in juvenile hall for car theft,ended up living with Mama in Fran's old room,much to the consternation of Naomi and Vint,who thought they were getting it. Iola was the prissy neighbor who barely concealed her romantic designs on Vinton. The biggest event in the run of "Mama's Family" came in the spring of 1990 when Naomi,who had been seemingly been pregnant for an eternity,presented Vint with a bouncing baby girl named after his mama-Tiffany Thelma. Toward the end of the series(and possibly the final episode of the series) Vint and Naomi had moved out of the house,but not out of her shadow,as they were now in a trailer on her property.
In point,"Mama's Family" was one laughable if not hilarious riot of a show with one situation after another with some outrageously funny results. Vicki Lawrence took the character of "Mama Harper" from The Carol Burnett Show and made it into one of the funniest character ever to grace the tube for the seven seasons that it was on the air.
- Jul 25, 2006