University LibrariesDigital CollectionsHomeCatalogResearch PortAsk us!Archives UM HomeSpecial CollectionsSearchAbout Archives UMHelpHow Do I...?Site Index A-ZSearch

Lee Lawrence Papers


Lee Lawrence Papers
Lawrence, Lee
Collection number:
LAB 95-86
7.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
1957-1999 and undated
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Lee Lawrence (1909-1990) was a long-time production aide, researcher and producer for such NBC fare as "Wide Wide World" and "The Today Show," both starring Dave Garroway. The collection primarily documents program Ms. Lawrence produced for "Today" and NBC's "Wide Wide World" between 1958 and 1960.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Lee Lawrence Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Lee Lawrence (1923-2003) was an American television researcher and associate producer long affiliated with Dave Garroway and his various NBC-TV programs.

Born Lee Kalech in Atlanta, GA on July 25, 1923, to a traveling salesman father and stay-at-home mom, Ms. Lawrence's family moved often during her childhood, living for a time in Atlanta, Chicago, Kentucky, Nashville, Buffalo and Cleveland, Ohio.

With a strong and early interest in the theatre, Lee departed for New York City before her 20th birthday.

Once in the Big Apple, she enrolled in Columbia University and took several drama courses, each of them taught by Milton Smith.

Described by one as "vivacious and smiling," Ms. Lawrence would quickly find herself at the epicenter of the New York entertainment world when she was hired, around 1943, to be the "technical assistant" to Broadway producer Billy Rose.

After many years in Rose's employ, Lee would eventually go on to work for various other producers and theatre companies, then found her own theatrical services agency. Ms. Lawrence would also marry, founding with her husband, Bert Lawrence, a company that produced both plays and films for a variety of clients including the National Association of Manufacturers, the Milk Industry Foundation, and the New York Life Insurance Company, among others. Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence would have two sons; the couple would divorce in the late 1950s.

In 1958, Lawrence joined the NBC television network and formed a long, fruitful partnership with on-air TV legend Dave Garroway, the low-key host of the network's "Today" show.

Lawrence, who was once described by Garroway as the "world's best researcher," worked on the "Today" show for five years which required rising five days a week at 3:30 a.m. to get to the studio by four to get the program on the air by seven. At 9:00 a.m., when the show was over, Lawrence would then begin work on the next day's broadcast--lining up guests, tracking down feature ideas and typing up teletypes. Lawrence was also an integral part of Garroway's ambitious weekend program, "Wide Wide World."

In October 1961, Ms. Lawrence was the victim of a violent attack which left her in a coma for six months. After awakening, she was forced to endure various surgeries (including the amputation of one leg) and thousands of hours of physical therapy.

Eventually able to walk again, Ms. Lawrence would relocate to the Washington, DC area and devote much of her later life to the National Organization on Disability for which she would serve as information officer. For a time she also did contract work for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as well as for the White House. Ms. Lawrence would also utilize her energies on behalf of the environment, including contributing to the website

Ms. Lawrence died in the Potamac Valley Nursing and Wellness Center in Rockville, Maryland on August 26, 2003. Lee was preceded in death by her second husband, T. Peter Ansberry, whom she married in 1967. He died in 1982.

Lee Lawrence Ansberry is survived by her two sons, John (Jeremy) Lawrence, an actor based in Los Angeles, and Stephen Lawrence, a social worker, currently living in San Francisco.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Lee Lawrence Papers spans the years 1957 to 1999, with the bulk dating between the years 1958 and 1959. The collection, which documents Lawrence's radio and television production career, contains correspondence, clippings, books, photos, transcripts, artifacts, scripts (and other radio and TV production documentation), and various other items.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Lee Lawrence Papers was donated to the Library of American Broadcasting, University of Maryland Libraries by Lee Lawrence in April, 1995. After Ms. Lawrence's death, her son, Jeremy Lawrence, donated more material in July of 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Cary O'Dell, 2004. Revised by Melanie Brown, May 2005.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Cary O'Dell, January 4, 2005. Markup checked and verified by Karen E. King, July 2005.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Biographical, 1962-1999; undated (3 folders)

This series contains various written materials pertaining to Ms. Lawrence's life, career, and her triumphant victory over physical adversity.

This series includes: various NBC-produced and self-produced write-ups on Ms. Lawrence; an unpublished, spiral bound manuscript titled "Timing is Everything" by Ms. Lawrence (mainly covering her time working with Billy Rose); a Xerox of an illustrated story on Ms. Lawrence from a May 27, 1945 issue of "Parade"; an excerpt, "I Have a Value..." by Ms. Lawrence, which was taken from the book "When the Worst That Can Happen Already Has" by Dennis Wholey (Hyperion, 1992); and a profile of Ms. Lawrence from the "Saturday Evening Post" from April 1963. (The full issue of the "Saturday Evening Post" is in oversize storage box #1, as is the "Parade" profile; a hardcover copy of the Wholey book is in oversize box #2.)

Where and when possible, items are arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Biographical Information, 1962-1999; undated series 1box 1folder 1
Biographical Information, 1962-1999; undated series 1box 1folder 2
Biographical Information, 1962-1999; undated series 1box 1folder 3

Series 2: Correspondence, 1959-1987; undated (3 folders)

This series contains a small collection of letters to and from Ms. Lawrence regarding various personal and business matters. Some of the sources of the letters are the US Veterans Administration and Sarah Garroway (widow of Dave Garroway).

This series also contains: two letters - one is a 1980 Xeroxed letter from Pat Weaver to Catharine Heinz of the Broadcast Pioneers Library, and the second dates from 1970, is addressed "Dear Dave" and is unsigned (possibly written and sent by Ms. Lawrence); pages of various addresses, perhaps potential contacts for a book that Ms. Lawrence was planning to write on the history of the "Today" show.

All items are arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence -- Dated/addresses, 1959-1987; undated series 2box 1folder 4
Correspondence -- Other, 1959-1987; undated series 2box 1folder 5
Correspondence -- Addresses, 1959-1987; undated series 2box 1folder 6

Series 3: Photographs, 1960; undated (6 folders)

This series has three subseries.

Subseries 3.1: Lee Lawrence Pictured, undated (1 folder)

Photos which feature Ms. Lawrence either alone or in the company of one or more of the following: Pat Weaver, Dave Garroway, radio actor Dwight Weist, Catharine Heinz of the Broadcast Pioneers Library, Anthony Tollin (radio collector) and various unidentified others. (Some photos are in oversize storage.)

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- Lee Lawrence, undatedseries 3.1box 1folder 7

Subseries 3.2: "Today" Show, 1960; undated (4 folders)

Photos, almost all featuring Dave Garroway, on the set of the "Today" show. Also featured, with Garroway, or in other groupings: Pat Weaver and J. Fred Muggs. (NOTE: Ms. Lawrence is not pictured in any of these photos.) (For photos of Mr. Garroway alone, see Series V: Dave Garroway)

This series also includes photos from the "Today" show's April, 1960 trip to Rome. Picture are: Lee Lawrence, Dave Garroway, Jack Lescoulie, and various unidentified people. (Some photos from this series are also in oversize storage box #1.)

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- "Today" show, 1960; undatedseries 3.2box 1folder 8
Photos -- "Today" show -- Rome, 1960series 3.2box 1folder 9
Photos -- "Today" show -- Rome, 1960series 3.2box 1folder 10
Photos -- "Today" show -- Rome, 1960series 3.2box 1folder 11

Subseries 3.3: Other, undated (1 folder)

Photos from a 1978 National Press Club party which featured Benny Goodman. Includes one 8" x 10" print (of Goodman) and various proof sheets.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos -- Other, undatedseries 3.3box 1folder 12

Series 4: Shows, 1958-1975 (1.25 linear feet)

This series contains documents related to various television programs which Ms. Lawrence was affliliated with during her career. It is divided into four subseries; as much as possible, each subseries is arranged internally by date.

Subseries 4.1: "Today", 1959-1960 (12 folders)

This subseries contains items related to Ms. Lawrence's work on the NBC "Today" show, the program most associated with Dave Garroway, and is broken down into the following categories: "Space Show" (c. 1959); Rome (1960); "Boat Show" (1960); and General (various).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Shows -- "Today" -- "Rome", 1960series 4.1box 1folder 13
Shows -- "Today" -- "Rome", 1960series 4.1box 1folder 14
Shows -- "Today" -- "Rome", 1960series 4.1box 1folder 15
Shows -- "Today" -- "Rome", 1960series 4.1box 1folder 16
Shows -- "Today" -- "Rome", 1960series 4.1box 1folder 17
Shows -- "Today" -- "Rome", 1960series 4.1box 1folder 18
Shows -- "Today" -- "Rome", 1960series 4.1box 2folder 1
Shows -- "Today" -- "Space Show", circa 1959series 4.1box 2folder 2
Shows -- "Today" -- "Boat Show", 1960series 4.1box 2folder 3
Shows -- "Today" -- "Boat Show", 1960series 4.1box 2folder 4
Shows -- "Today" -- General, 1959-1960; undatedseries 4.1box 2folder 5
Shows -- "Today" -- General, 1959-1960; undatedseries 4.1box 2folder 6

Subseries 4.2: "Wide Wide World", 1958 (6 folders)

Contains 50 items: scripts, outlines, running times, contact lists, research materials, rehearsal information, synopsis, etc., for the following "Wide Wide World" episodes: "New Orleans" (airdate February 2, 1958); "American Theater '58" (airdate March 16, 1958); "Flagstop at Malta Bend" (airdate March 30, 1958) and "The Sound of Laughter." "The Sound of Laughter" featured clips and commentary by Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Smith & Dale, Robert Benchley, Mort Sahl, Claude Rains, Al Capp, and Peter Ustinov (airdate May 25, 1958). Also included is ample research material for a proposed episode titled "Education in America."

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Shows -- "Wide Wide World", 1958series 4.2box 2folder 7
Shows -- "Wide Wide World", 1958series 4.2box 2folder 8
Shows -- "Wide Wide World", 1958series 4.2box 2folder 9
Shows -- "Wide Wide World", 1958series 4.2box 2folder 10
Shows -- "Wide Wide World", 1958series 4.2box 2folder 11
Shows -- "Wide Wide World", 1958series 4.2box 3folder 1

Subseries 4.3: "The Sound of Laughter", circa 1975 (5 folders)

Not to be confused with the episode of "Wide Wide World" with the same name, this is a program conceived and developed by Garroway and Ms. Lawrence. It is unclear if it was ever produced and aired. This subseries is further divided into the following categories: Treatments; Scripts; Correspondence (1974-1975); and Notes.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Shows -- "The Sound of Laughter", circa 1975series 4.3box 3folder 2
Shows -- "The Sound of Laughter", circa 1975series 4.3box 3folder 3
Shows -- "The Sound of Laughter", circa 1975series 4.3box 3folder 4
Shows -- "The Sound of Laughter", circa 1975series 4.3box 3folder 5
Shows -- "The Sound of Laughter", circa 1975series 4.3box 3folder 6

Subseries 4.4: Other, 1958-1958-1959 (2 folders)

This subseries contains a two-page sheet of running times for an installment of "The Steve Allen" show from May 25, 1958, and a treatment for an NBC show called "Meet Mr. Lincoln" which is dated February 11, 1959.

This subseries also includes a folder titled "Show Ideas," which contains items related to a proposed program titled "Quest" (the "story of man's greatest challenge and continuing adventure...his search for understanding...his fierce struggle to realize his humanity. . . ..") that Ms. Lawrence had hoped to create. Contains several treatments, outlines for episodes, correspondence, research materials, and other items. Also contains an undated treatment for a program tentatively titled "How Old is Old?"

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Shows -- Other, 1958-1959series 4.4box 3folder 7
Shows -- Show Ideas, 1958-1959series 4.4box 3folder 8

Series 5: Dave Garroway, 1957-1992; undated (12 folders)

Ms. Lawrence's long working relationship with, and affection for, Dave Garroway is represtented in the wide assortment of items she collected of his, or which he entrusted to her. This series is divided into seven subseries.

Subseries 5.1: Biographical, undated (2 folders)

Contains copies of various NBC- and self-produced biographies of Garroway.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dave Garroway -- Biographical Information, undatedseries 5.1box 3folder 9
Dave Garroway -- Biographical Information, undatedseries 5.1box 3folder 10

Subseries 5.2: Photos, undated (1 folder)

Photos of Garroway, including many "headshots" of the late "Today" show host.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dave Garroway -- Photographs, 1957-1987; undatedseries 5.2box 3folder 11

Subseries 5.3: Clippings, 1957-1992; undated (3 folders)

Collection of newspaper and magazine clippings pertaining to: Garroway's life and career (including his suicide in 1982); a posthumously held jazz festival held in his honor; the history of the 'Today" show; anniversaries celebrated by the 'Today" show; and two issues of "NBC Chimes" magazine (from January 1953 and September - October 1956). (Some clippings and magazines are in oversize box #1.) Arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dave Garroway -- Clippings, 1957-1992; undatedseries 5.3box 3folder 12
Dave Garroway -- Clippings, 1957-1992; undatedseries 5.3box 3folder 13
Dave Garroway -- Clippings, 1957-1992; undatedseries 5.3box 3folder 14

Subseries 5.4: Radio Show, circa 1964 (1 folder)

After leaving the "Today" show in 1961, Garroway hosted his own nationally syndicated radio show on which Ms. Lawrence also worked. This folder contains materials related to that program, mainly to two installments: one, an interview with Frank Palmer; the second, an interview with Hubert Humphrey.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dave Garroway -- Radio Show, circa 1964series 5.4box 3folder 15

Subseries 5.5: Autobiography, undated (3 folders)

Garroway, presumably later in life, began work on an autobiography by recording his recollections onto audiotape. These tapes were later sent to Ms. Lawrence for her to transcribe. This subseries contains some of those transcripts, as well as a few notes and clippings (written by Garroway? clipped by Garroway?). It seems the book was never completed.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dave Garroway -- Autobiography, undatedseries 5.5box 4folder 1
Dave Garroway -- Autobiography, undatedseries 5.5box 4folder 2
Dave Garroway -- Autobiography, undatedseries 5.5box 4folder 3

Subseries 5.6: Garroway Lab, 1985-1987; undated (1 folder)

Following his suicide, Garroway's survivors helped set up the Dave Garroway Laboratory for the Study of Depression (DGL) at The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital. This subseries contains materials, clippings, correspondence (including a note from Pat Weaver) regarding the Lab and its mission. All items arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dave Garroway -- Garroway Lab, 1985-1987; undatedseries 5.6box 4folder 4

Subseries 5.7: Miscellaneous, undated (1 folder)

Various notes and odds-and-ends pertaining to Garroway including: an essay written by him on broadcast ethics (undated); a Xerox of a certificate, awarded posthumously, for Garroway's service in the Armed Forces; and partial transcript of Garroway being interviewed by "Milt" (no last name given) (undated).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dave Garroway -- Miscellaneous, undatedseries 5.7box 4folder 5

Series 6: Other, 1959-1987; undated (6 folders)

This series contains the following items organized in the following five subseries. When possible all items were arranged by date.

Subseries 6.1: Speeches, 1968; undated (1 folder)

Contains copies of two short talks given by Ms. Lawrence over the years. One is titled "Speaker's Guide" (marked "Draft"), the second is titled "The Television Appearance: 'It Could Happen to You'" and is dated August 22, 1968. Arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Other -- Speeches, 1968; undatedseries 6.1box 4folder 6

Subseries 6.2: "Today Show Book, circa 1979 (1 folder)

Beginning in the late 1970s, Ms. Lawrence began work on a book about the founding of the "Today" show and her years of working with Garroway. This folder contains copies of some manuscript pages, transcript of a conversation she had with Lou Bradley, copies of some correspondence to and from Pat Weaver.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Other -- "Today" Book, circa 1979series 6.2box 4folder 7

Subseries 6.3: Gene Jones, 1959; undated (1 folder)

Contains items regarding Eugene ("Gene") Jones, a longtime program manager for "Today" during its Garroway era. Includes a clipping, an autobiographical write-up and transcripts of Mr. Jones perhaps for eventual use in Ms. Lawrence's once-planned book on the "Today" show.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Other -- Gene Jones, 1959; undatedseries 6.3box 4folder 8

Subseries 6.4: Raimondo Borea Photography, 1979-1980; undated (1 folder)

A renowned photographer, Mr. Borea, was the "official" photographer for the "Today" show, circa 1959. In 1979, he considered publishing a book of his "Today" photos which eventually led him to contact Ms. Lawrence who, at the time, was also planning a book on "Today."

This folder also contains Xeroxes of various on-camera and off-camera photos, the originals of which are, presumably, still in Mr. Borea's, or his estate's, possession.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Other -- Borea, 1979-1980; undatedseries 6.4box 4folder 9

Subseries 6.5: Miscellaneous, 1945-1987; undated (1 folder)

Contains: three clippings - an obit for Jack Lescoulie from 1987, a one-page profile of William Paley of CBS from "Broadcasting" magazine, and an undated article written by Sander Vanocur about Pat Weaver; one of Ms. Lawrence's business cards from NBC; note from James A Stabile, attached to a sample artist's contract; NBC visitor passes for Ms. Lawrence; a copy of a 1945 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ticket stub for a performance at Madison Square Garden; and various handwritten notes and jottings Ms. Lawrence wrote for herself

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Other -- Miscellaneous Clippings, 1945-1987; undatedseries 6.5box 4folder 10
Other -- Miscellaneous, 1945-1987; undatedseries 6.5box 4folder 11

Series 7: Artifacts, Undated (2.79 linear feet)

Also included with this donation were the following items. (All are in oversize box #1 unless otherwise noted.)

Items are

-- a black, hardcover notebook (9 1/2" x 11 1/2") with "Today" printed on its cover in gold, and a label reading "Lee Lawrence" placed on its lower right-hand corner

--one oversize (10" x 11 1/2") dossier, embossed with the initials "PW" [Pat Weaver?]. Its first page reads: "1951/Four Volumes/ Volume One: Planning/Enlightenment Through Exposure/'Today'-Memo to Stations/'Today'-Memo to the Staff/'Today'-Memo About Its Function," approx. 46 total pages

-- one spiral-bound sales promo/book (10" x 12 1/2") for "Wide Wide World," multi-color with some water damage to outside and some internal pages cut

-- one pair of eyeglasses which once belonged to Dave Garroway

--one clip-on bow tie which also once belonged to Mr. Garroway

--one bible, King James Version (World Publishing Company, 1945), in a white leather zippered cover/case, embossed with the name "DAVE GARROWAY" on front cover

-- two marble plaques (each 11" x 14"), engraved: "ROMA"/"today"/"Aprilis-MCMLX."

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Artifacts -- "PW" Dossier (Oversize), 1951 series 7box 5folder 1
Artifacts (Oversize), undated series 7box 6folder 1
Glasses which belonged to Dave Garroway, undated series 7box 6folder 1item 1.0
Clip-on bow tie which belonged to Dave Garroway, undated series 7box 6folder 1item 2.0
Bible embossed with name "DAVE GARROWAY" on front cover, 1945 series 7box 6folder 1item 3.0
Artifacts (Oversize), 1960; undated series 7box 7folder 1
Notebook with "Today" on front cover, undated series 7box 7folder 1item 1.0
Sales/Promo book for "Wide Wide World", undated series 7box 7folder 1item 2.0
Two marble plaques engraved "ROMA"/"today"/"Aprilis-MCMLX", 1960 series 7box 7folder 1item 3.0

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.