Michael "Mike" Lawrence (last name also spelled "Laurence") is, or was, a warm-up man and TV show announcer whose career is somewhat unknown. A "resume" of sorts published in December 1964 mentioned his work up to that point.
Lawrence's career appears to have begun in 1962, working on KTLA game shows You Don't Say! (hosted by Jack Barry) and By the Numbers (a far more obscure entry hosted by Jay Stewart, Barry, and Wink Martindale). In 1963, he became an ABC staff announcer, doing the short-lived The Object Is (the first game show hosted by Dick Clark), soap opera The Young Marrieds (1964-66), Laughs for Sale (unknown), and (at the time of the aforementioned resume) sponsor billboards for No Time For Sergeants.
In mid-1967, Lawrence did audience warmup for ABC's Dateline: Hollywood along with Grey agency billboards for That Girl and six radio spots for Pep Boys. Sometime between then and Fall 1970 (possibly around mid-1969), he became NBC's Director of Corporate Projects.
Lawrence was the show's first announcer, holding these duties for the Shopper's Bazaar pilot in September 1973, which included giving hints via Your Own Clue and recapping the scores after each round as they were displayed by the Accounting Department.
It is not certain how Lawrence came to be associated with Merv Griffin, Lin Bolen, or NBC, but a Variety blurb from six months earlier notes a "Mike Lawrence" being in charge of hospitality arrangements for the network and "once again has turned the company's suite into the best deli in town". Nonetheless, his replacement by Charlie O'Donnell for the 1974 pilots would suggest that he was considered part of the problem by Merv and Bolen.
Regardless of this and his very high obscurity in relation to the show, Lawrence holds the distinction of being the first person to ever speak on Wheel. Conversely, the first to be seen on-camera was the unknown stagehand who held the Bazaar slate (who may have also been the first to speak, but this is uncertain).
Lawrence's career after Bazaar appears to be generally unknown. In 1974, a "Mike Laurence" was among those whose AFTRA contracts wanted to be brought up to those of the Screen Actors Guild (along with June Foray, Tom Brown, Charlie O'Donnell, Susan Donovan, Rulh Ashton Taylor, and Larry Burrell), refusing compromises offered by the networks.
A "Mike Lawrence" was heard on WNRR (now WOHF) in Ohio, which had first signed on in 1973. This is somewhat uncertain; while WNRR was owned at this point by ABC Radio (now Cumulus Media Networks), it is not known when Lawrence worked there.
Lawrence was apparently an actor as well, married to a woman named Babette who died in December 1979.
- ↑ Variety, December 11, 1964 (Page 9)
- ↑ The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (January 1988), Page 249
- ↑ Variety, July 21, 1967 (Page 13)
- ↑ Variety, December 30, 1970 (Page 30)
- ↑ Variety, March 28, 1973 (Page 32)
- ↑ Variety, March 14, 1974 (Page 1)
- ↑ Variety, September 8, 1976 (Page 64)
- ↑ Variety, March 1, 1979 (Page 10)
- ↑ Variety, February 27, 1980 (Page 55)