The Carol Burnett Show: Guest: Jerry Lewis – 1971
Burnett receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005
Carol Creighton Burnett (born April 26, 1933) is an American actress, comedienne, singer and writer, whose career spans six decades of television. She is best known for her long-running TV variety show, The Carol Burnett Show, originally aired on CBS. She has achieved success on stage, television and film in varying genres including dramatic and comedy roles. She also has appeared on various talk shows and as a panelist on game shows.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Burnett moved with her grandmother to Hollywood, where she attended Hollywood High School and eventually studied theater and musical comedy at UCLA. Later she performed in nightclubs in New York City and had a breakout success on Broadway in 1959 in Once Upon a Mattress, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. She soon made her television debut, regularly appearing on The Garry Moore Show for the next three years, and won her first Emmy Award in 1962. In 1963, she was the star of the Dallas State Fair Musicals presentation of “Calamity Jane”. Burnett moved to Los Angeles, California, and began an 11-year run as star of The Carol Burnett Show on CBS television from 1967 to 1978. With its vaudevilleroots, The Carol Burnett Show was a variety show that combined comedy sketches with song and dance. The comedy sketches included film parodies and character pieces. Burnett created many memorable characters during the show’s run, and both she and the show won numerous Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.
During and after her variety show, Burnett appeared in many television and film projects. Her film roles include Pete ‘n’ Tillie(1972), The Front Page (1974), The Four Seasons (1981), Annie(1982), Noises Off (1992), and Horton Hears a Who! (2008). On television, she has appeared in other sketch shows; in dramatic roles in 6 Rms Riv Vu (1974) and Friendly Fire (1979); in various well-regarded guest roles, such as in Mad About You, for which she won an Emmy Award; and in specials with Julie Andrews, Dolly Parton, Beverly Sills, and others. She returned to the Broadway stage in 1995 in Moon Over Buffalo, for which she was again nominated for a Tony Award.
Carol and sister Chrissie on Person to Person, 1961
Burnett was born in San Antonio, Texas, on April 26, 1933, the daughter of Ina Louise (née Creighton), a publicity writer for movie studios, and Joseph Thomas Burnett, a movie theater manager. Both of her parents were alcoholics, and at a young age, she was left with her grandmother, Mabel Eudora White. Burnett’s parents divorced in the late 1930’s, and she and her grandmother moved to an apartment near Burnett’s mother’s in an impoverished area of Hollywood, California. There they stayed in a boarding house with Burnett’s younger half-sister Chrissie. When Burnett was in second grade, she briefly invented an imaginary twin sister named Karen, with Shirley Temple-like dimples. Motivated to further the pretense, Burnett fondly recalls that she “fooled the other boarders in the rooming house where we lived by frantically switching clothes and dashing in and out of the house by the fire escape and the front door. Then I became exhausted and Karen mysteriously vanished.”