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The Carol Burnett Show


Carol Burnett Show- Went With the Wind

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Here it is- a classic among classics! Featuring Dinah Shore as Melody Hamilton. (Part 1 of    2).

The Carol Burnett Show (also Carol Burnett and Friends in syndication) is avariety/sketch comedy television show starring Carol BurnettHarvey Korman,Vicki LawrenceLyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway. It originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967, to March 29, 1978, for 278 episodes and originated from CBS Television City‘s Studio 33. The series won 25 prime time Emmy Awards, was ranked No. 16 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time in 2002 and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All Time.”

The show

On the left, cast members in 1967 (clockwise from the bottom): Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Wagoner. On the right, the 1977 cast: Burnett, Tim Conway, Lawrence and Korman.

In addition to Carol Burnett, the cast consisted of:

Comedic actor Harvey Korman had done many guest shots in TV sitcoms. From 1963 to 1967, he had been a semi-regular on the CBS variety series The Danny Kaye Show. When Kaye’s program ended in the spring of 1967, Korman was immediately hired for The Carol Burnett Show. He left the show after its tenth season, and was replaced in the fall of 1977 by Dick Van Dyke. Lyle Waggoner, who often played a self-absorbed Adonis and did a lot of skit narration, left the series in 1974 to pursue a dramatic acting career and the next year was cast in Wonder Woman. Vicki Lawrence, a young singer from the Johnny Mann Singers, joined the series shortly after its start. Lawrence wrote a letter to Burnett when she was 17, remarking on her physical resemblance to the comic actress. She was initially hired to play Burnett’s kid sister in numerous “Carol and Sis” skits. Lawrence was the only other cast member apart from Burnett to continue with the series through 1977.

Burnett, Vicki Lawrence and guest star Dinah Shore in the 1977 “Went With the Wind” segment.

The popular variety show not only established Burnett as a television superstar, but it also made her regular supporting cast household names, with such sketches as “As the Stomach Turns“, (a parody of As the World Turns) and “Went with the Wind” (a parody of Gone with the Wind), “Carol & Sis”, “Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins”, “The Family” (which would lead to a made-for-TV movie, titled Eunice, as well as spin off television series, titled Mama’s Family), “Nora Desmond” (Burnett’s send-up of Gloria Swanson‘s character Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard), and “Stella Toddler.” A frequent repeated segment was “Kitchen Commercials”, in which cast members parodied TV commercials that drove a woman (Burnett) crazy. The long-running show was frequently nominated for Emmys, for best variety series and won three times.

A unique feature consisted of an unrehearsed question-and-answer segment with the audience in CBS Studio 33 lasting about 3–4 minutes at the start of most shows. Burnett would ask for the lights to be turned up and then randomly pick audience members who raised their hands. This informality was possibly due to the design of Studio 33; cameras were to the left and right of the stage with one below in the pit and one suspended, so the actors were very close to the audience. Burnett would often ad-lib funny answers, but occasionally ended up as the straight (wo)man. For example:

Young woman: “Have you ever taken acting lessons?”
Carol: “Yes, I have.”
Young woman: “Do you think it did any good?”

The show was rehearsed for three to four hours each day until the Friday tapings, when two recordings were made. As there were only two recordings, if an actor flubbed a line in both takes, the error appeared in the broadcast, giving the show some immediacy. Pick-ups were exceptions, and usually only used for musical numbers.

A recurring guest star from the show’s launch and later a regular cast member, Tim Conway provided unrehearsed bits to sketches that became known to the staff as “Conway’s Capers”. Conway would play the first taping straight, but ad-lib bizarre scenarios during the second. Some notable clips included Conway as a Nazi interrogator berating an American captive (Lyle Waggoner). Using a Hitler puppet and a pencil as a “club,” Conway sang three verses of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Some, like the Hitler puppet, made it into the final broadcast; others, like a notably convoluted story about Siamese elephants joined at the trunk (ad-libbed during a 1977 Mama’s Family sketch), would be edited, the uncensored version only appearing years later on CBS specials. Conway’s favorite victim was Harvey Korman, who would often break character reacting to Conway’s zaniness, such as when Conway played a dentist misusing Novocain or the recurring role of “The Old Man” – an elderly, shuffling, senile man who slowly rolled down stairways and fell prey to various mechanical mishaps (including an electric wheelchair and an automated dry cleaning rack).

The show also became known for its closing theme song, written by Burnett’s husband, with the following lyrics:

I’m so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh or sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, “So long.”

At the close of each episode Burnett would tug her ear. This silent message was meant for her grandmother who raised her, and meant she was thinking of her at that moment. After her grandmother’s death, Burnett continued the tradition.

When The Carol Burnett Show made its network debut on CBS-TV in September 1967, it was scheduled on Monday nights at 10:00 pm (E.S.T.) opposite NBC’s I Spy and ABC’s The Big Valley. At the end of its first season and through the spring of 1971, it consistently ranked among the top 30 programs. (For the 1969–1970 season, it posted its highest rating ever, ranking at #13.) In the fall of 1971, CBS moved the show to Wednesday nights at 8:00 pm (E.S.T.) where its chief competition was NBC’s Adam-12 and the ABC sitcoms Bewitched and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Despite the schedule change, the show continued to do well until the fall of 1972, when the ratings slipped. In December 1972, CBS again moved The Carol Burnett Show to Saturday nights at 10:00 pm (E.S.T.) where, for the next four years, it not only received solid ratings but was also part of a powerhouse Saturday night lineup of primetime shows that included All in the FamilyThe Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Bob Newhart Show.

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