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The Carol Burnett Show
Introducing Carol Burnett
One of the funniest TV shows ever was The Carol Burnett Show....if you've never seen it you don't know what you're missing. I don't care how old or young you are, if this show doesn't make you laugh, nothing will. Oh, I know a lot of you have never heard of Carol Burnett or Harvey Korman much less some of their guest stars but even taking that into consideration this was one funny, funny show!
Let's start with a look at Carol Burnett herself. Carol was more than a comedienne, she was a song writer, director, a very talented singer, and an actress....not a bad list of accomplishments. She was born on April 26, 1933 in San Antonio, Texas to alcoholic parents. When they divorced in the thirties Carol and her half-sister moved in with her grandmother. Her first job was as an usherette in a local theater.
After graduating from high school she won a scholarship to UCLA and it was there she discovered not only acting, but comedy. It filled a void she felt growing up and the laughter provided her with a warmth she had never known.
Hollywood Arms[Play, Drama, Original] Written by Carol Burnett
- Based on a memoir by Carol Burnett
Oct 1, 2002 - Jan 5, 2003
Putting It Together[Musical, Revue, Original]
- Starring: Carol Burnett [The Wife]
Nov 21, 1999 - Mar 20, 2000
Moon Over Buffalo[Play, Comedy, Original]
- Starring: Carol Burnett [Charlotte Hay]
Oct 1, 1995 - Jun 30, 1996
Fade Out - Fade In[Musical, Comedy, Original]
- Starring: Carol Burnett [Hope Springfield]
May 26, 1964 - Apr 17, 1965
Once Upon a Mattress[Musical, Comedy, Original]
- Starring: Carol Burnett [Princess Winnifred]
May 11, 1959 - Jul 2, 1960
(Information from the Internet Broadway Database)
Carol Burnett in the entertainment world
Her first TV appearance was on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney show. I know you young folks reading this don't know Paul Winchell or Jerry Mahoney...Jerry Mahoney was Paul Winchell's dummy...he was a ventriloquist. Back to Carol...her short appearance in that show led to a role in a show called "Stanley" , a sitcom with Buddy Hackett (another well known comedian from the 60s). This show didn't last too long and Carol wound up doing nightclub acts. During those acts she wrote and performed a song called "I Made a Fool Of Myself Over John Foster Dulles" (he was the Secretary of State at the time). She went on to perform this song on The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
She then went to Broadway and appeared in "Once Upon a Mattress". She won an Emmy for that one, but her big break came when she appeared on The Gary Moore Show...I know you don't know him either but trust me, his shows were funny and everyone loved to watch. She won an Emmy for her performance on this show and started her famous "Cleaning Lady" character. She appeared on the "Lucy" show (and Lucille Ball became her mentor), did more Broadway and more TV comedy shows.
Tudball & Wiggins
The Carol Burnett Show
And now ladies and gentlemen, The Carol Burnett Show! This was an hour long variety show...the type you don't see on TV anymore. According to Wikipedia, this show "won or was nominated for multiple Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards every season it was on the air."
Carol began each show by stepping onto the stage and answering questions from the audience, live, and often the fun began right there. The questions and Carol's answers were something you just couldn't make up! Wikipedia lists this example:
Sample question from young woman in audience: "Have you ever taken acting lessons?" Carol: "Yes, I have." Audience member: "Do you think it did any good?"
But, the show itself was a masterpiece. Carol was not an egotist and allowed her regular cast (and guests as well) to shine. Her regular cast included Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Lyle Waggoner and then a teenage Vicki Lawrence. If none of these names ring a bell you should check them out!
Each show was different, ergo...a variety show. They did skits that parodied famous movies, a parody of a then famous soap opera called "As the World Turns" was called "As the Stomach Turns", there were musical numbers, skits called "Momma's Family", there were "kitchen commercials", Carol's cleaning lady skits, and the famous "Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins"..and I cannot forget her famous 'Tarzan yell'...that started in a skit on the Gary Moore Show and later (along with the Cleaning Lady) became one of Carol's most recognizable acts.
The Carol Burnett Show ran for eleven years. The 'live' audience was that but the show was 'taped' before a live audience.
Harvey Korman and Tim Conway were hysterical. It seems neither could decide who was the straight man in any sketch they did ... often Tim Conway would reduced Harvey to fits of laughing he couldn't control. Laughter among the cast while they were doing skits made the audience laugh all the more as the actors and comedians on this show became more live and lovable.
Carol ended each show by tugging on her left ear...it is said it was for her grandmother. Before her ear tug she sang a song, "I'm so glad we had this time together.." When you heard Carol start singing it you were sad because you knew the show was over.
Carol Burnett with Roddy McDowall
Carol is now appearing on talk shows to promote her new DVD showcasing her favorite Carol Burnett Shows, a set of four DVDs. To my knowledge this show was never in syndication and didn't play all over the place ad nauseum...This is the way to see it. I also read somewhere the cast is reuniting on Sirius Radio.
I am not promoting the DVD (though I'm sure it'll be a laugh riot). For those of you who remember the Carol Burnett show I hope I brought a smile to your face. Those of you who've never seen the show, it was from a simpler time, no dirty jokes, some slapstick humor and a lot of laughter. You can watch many of the skits and some entire episodes on Youtube. "I'm so glad we had this time together...."
May you always have a smile in your heart.
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