Dorothy Lyman’s soap opera got her the role of Naomi


In 1983, the NBC network introduced viewers to the dysfunctional Harper clan of Mom’s family. The series is based on a famous sketch by The Carol Burnett Show. Carol Burnett and many of her co-stars reprized their roles in the Harper family for the spin-off. There was also the introduction of new characters, including Naomi Oates (Dorothy Lyman). Although Lyman is best known to fans as Naomi, she was a soap opera actress before the show.

Rue McClanahan, Vicki Lawrence, Dorothy Lyman and Ken Berry I Gary Null / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Dorothy Lyman performed Opal Gardner in “All My Children”

Like many actors, Lyman’s career began with soap operas. From 1976 to 1980, she played Gwen Frame in the NBC series Another world. But her next role is one that she would change her career. In 1981 she was chosen as Opal Gardner on All my children.

Although the character of Opal was meant to be a brief stint, Lyman’s work was so impressive that they put her under contract. Lyman became popular with fans and won two Daytime Emmys for his performances. But it was not the soap opera viewers who also appreciated his work.

RELATED: “All My Children”: Dorothy Lyman and Her Character’s Successor Shared an Unexpected Connection

According to, Burnett and Vicki Lawrence were diehard All my children fans and loved the character of Lyman. Burnett thought Lyman would be perfect as Naomi and offered her the role. Although Lyman had a new prime-time gig, she continued to work on the ABC soap opera. The actor constantly traveled back and forth from New York to Los Angeles for both shows. However, in 1983 she left All my children to focus on Mom’s family.

“Mama’s Family” character Naomi Oates was Thelma Harper’s worst nightmare

Naomi’s debut the Mom’s family came in the season premiere in January 1983. The character is Thelma Harper’s (Lawrence) neighbor and a high school friend of Vinton Harper (Ken Berry). Naomi is a thorn in Thelma’s side, and the first episode has the two arguing over Thelma’s tree branches falling on Naomi’s yard.

RELATED: ‘Mama’s Family’: Why Did Carol Burnett Stop Playing Eunice?

Thelma’s worst nightmare comes true when Naomi marries Vinton. The couple’s plans to move to Arizona and run a trailer park are ruined when a crook takes off with their money. Naomi and Vinton return to Thelma’s basement. Naomi and Thelma’s controversial relationship is a common theme throughout the series. Although they bicker, there are times when they are kind to each other.

The last years of Mom’s family focus on Naomi and Vinton’s plans to have a baby. The series finale has Naomi giving birth to a daughter named Tiffany Thelma with the help of her stepmother.

Dorothy Lyman’s work on “Mama’s Family”

All my children and Mom’s family is Lyman’s most remarkable work. But after Mom’s family Completed in 1990, Lyman’s has remained busy with roles in television and film. His performances include guests in shows such as Reba and Law and order. She also had minor roles in films Cut and The dead.

In addition to working on screen, Lyman has become a staple behind the camera. She was a producer and director for three seasons on the sitcom Fran Drescher The nanny. Whether on-screen or off-screen, Lyman has come a long way from her soap opera years.

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