Album:West Side Story: Original Broadway Cast Recording
Though Carol Lawrence has had a long career on stage and on TV, she is probably best known for playing Maria in the original 1957 production of West Side Story and the kerfuffle when she wasn't in the film version. She was born Carol Maria Laraia Sept. 5, 1932 in Melrose Park, IL. Her parents were Italian immigrants. After a year at Northwestern University, Carol moved to New York and appeared in Borscht Capades with Yiddish comedian Mickey Katz. She made her Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952. That ran for a year. Then she appeared in shows like Plain and Fancy, South Pacific and Ziegfeld Follies of 1957. Then she was cast as Maria in the original 1957 production of West Side Story. She was nominated for a Tony. Despite her success, neither Carol or co-star Larry Kert were considered for the film version of West Side Story because the producers thought they were too old. The kerfuffle was Natalie Wood was hired to play Maria and she can't sing and her vocals were dubbed by Marni Nixon. Many fans felt that Carol got a raw deal. Natalie wasn't much younger than Carol but she looked younger and she was a bigger star. Carol appeared in shows like Subways Are For Sleeping and I Do! I Do!. Carol married singer Robert Goulet in 1963 and she started appearing on TV a lot either on variety shows or series guest shots. She was a regular on The Dean Martin Summer Show Starring Vic Damone in 1967. While she was raising her kids in the 70s and 80s, Carol continued to do guest shots on TV. She also returned to Broadway for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1993. Carol wrote a cookbook which she sold on Home Shopping Network and she hosted a show on The Food Network. She was a regular on General Hospital in 1992. Young fans may recall she made several appearances on Saved By The Bell. Carol last appeared in the 2013 off Broadway show Handle With Care. I think most West Side Story fans believe Carol Lawrence deserved to be a much bigger star than she was. She certainly has the talent. But she had to balance her career with raising her family and I think she made family her priority. Here's Carol Lawrence with Larry Kert performing Tonight on The Ed Sullivan Show Nov. 2, 1958.