Carol Lawrence (born Carolina Maria Laraia; September 5, 1932) is an American actress, appearing in musical theatre and on television. She is known for portraying Maria on Broadway in the musical West Side Story (1957), receiving a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She appeared at The Muny, St. Louis, in several musicals, including Funny Girl. She also appeared in many television dramas, including Rawhide and Murder She Wrote. She was married to fellow performer Robert Goulet.
Lawrence in a scene from the
General Electric Theater episode
"The Iron Silence" (1961)
Carolina Maria Laraia
September 5, 1932
Melrose Park, Illinois, U.S.
(m. 1956; div. 1959)
(m. 1963; div. 1981)
John Gregory Guydus
(m. 1982; div. 1983)
Born Carolina Maria Laraia  in Melrose Park, Illinois, her parents were of Italian ancestry. Her father was born in Trivigno, in the province of Potenza, and her maternal family came from the same town. She spent one year at Northwestern University and then left to pursue her career.
Lawrence made her Broadway debut in 1952 in Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952. She achieved success in the role of Maria in the original Broadway production of West Side Story in 1957, and received a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for this role. She played the role for two years, and after an appearance in the short-lived show Saratoga in 1959 she returned to West Side Story for its 1960 season. Other Broadway successes were Subways Are for Sleeping, I Do! I Do! (replacement "She/Agnes", 1967) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992–93, replacement Spider Woman/Aurora).
She made a few record albums of standards and showtunes including "Tonight at 8:30" (1960), where she did sing studio version of the songs "Tonight", and "Something!s Coming", both from "West Side Story".
She played several roles at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri, the largest outdoor theater in the U.S., including Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1975), Charity in Sweet Charity (1977), and Lucille Early in No, No, Nanette (1990). Among her other musical theatre parts are the title role in Mame (2000 at the Helen Hayes Center for Performing Arts in Nyack, New York), Guenevere in Camelot (opposite husband Robert Goulet), Do I Hear a Waltz? at the Pasadena Playhouse (2001) and Follies at the Wadsworth Theatre in Los Angeles in 2002.
Her television performances include a guest role in Breaking Point (as Evelyn Denner in the 1963 episode entitled "There Are the Hip, and There Are the Square"). In October 1976, she appeared as the special guest on the popular weekly variety program The Bobby Vinton Show, which aired across the United States and Canada. She performed "Friend of the Father". Other appearances include Rawhide, Combat!, Wagon Train, The Fugitive, The Big Valley, Hawaii 5-0, Marcus Welby, M.D., Medical Center, Kung Fu, Mannix, Murder She Wrote, Saved by the Bell, and Sex and the City.
In 1992–93, she played the role of matriarch Angela Eckart on General Hospital. She hosted five shows of Chef du Jour for the Food Network, cooking from I Remember Pasta, her own cookbook, and setting a record for cookbook sales on the Home Shopping Network.
In 1999, she appeared in the television movie remake of Jason Miller's That Championship Season in a cameo role as Claire's mother (the mother-in-law of Vincent D'Onofrio's character), a role written into the film specifically for her. In 2013, she appeared Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre Downstairs in Jason Odell Williams's play Handle with Care.
Lawrence has written her autobiography, with Phyllis Hobe, titled Carol Lawrence: The Backstage Story, published in 1990.
Lawrence married three times:
- Cosmo Allegretti (January 13, 1956 – January 30, 1959; annulled)
- Robert Goulet (1963–1981); together they had two sons, Christopher (b. 1964) and Michael Goulet (b. 1966).
- Greg Guydus (March 7, 1982 – December 12, 1984)
Lawrence and Goulet married while both were Broadway stars; their romance was treated in the press like a fairy-tale. In her 1990 book Carol Lawrence: The Backstage Story, she accused Goulet of having alcoholism and being an abusive husband and father.
Lawrence, a registered Democrat, accompanied Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman John Bailey, DNC Vice-Chairwoman Margaret B. Price, DNC Secretary Dorothy Vredenburgh Bush, Lena Horne, Richard Adler and Sidney Salomon on a visit with President John F. Kennedy at The White House on November 20, 1963; two days before his assassination.
Lawrence is Presbyterian and a member of the Bel Air Presbyterian Church.
- Carol Lawrence: The Backstage Story McGraw-Hill, 1990, p.10, ISBN 0070367248
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- Carol Lawrence Coaxes the Blues Right Out of the Horn" theatermania.com, June 19, 2000
- "Do I Hear A Waltz Photos" rnh.com, accessed April 24, 2015
- Johnson, Reed. "'Follies' Remains Marvelous Contradiction" Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2002
- "Carol Lawrence" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed April 25, 2015
- That Championship Season Turner Classic Movies, accessed April 24, 2015
- Purcell, Carey. " 'Handle With Care', Starring Tony Nominee Carol Lawrence, Ends Run at the Westside March 9" Playbill, March 9, 2014
- Barnes, Mike. "'Captain Kangaroo's' Cosmo Allegretti Dies at 86" The Hollywood Reporter, August 8, 2013
- "Carol Lawrence Sues For Divorce". Eugene Register-Guard. June 19, 1980. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
- Thomas, Bob (July 2, 1963). "Goulet Tells How He Met Carol". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
- Krebs, Albin and Thomas, Robert McG. "Notes On People; Carol Lawrence Reweds" The New York Times, March 9, 1982
- Witchel, Alex (May 23, 1993). "Happy Ever After in Camelot". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- "Visit of Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman John Bailey, Lena Horne, Carol Lawrence, Richard Adler, Sidney Salomon, Vice-Chairwoman of the DNC Margaret B. Price, and Secretary of the DNC Dorothy Vredenburgh Bush, 11:30AM - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum". Jfklibrary.org. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
- "Robert Goulet, Las Vegas Lancelot". Washington Post. August 28, 1990.