On May 21, 1975, Carol Burnett received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Always looking for a laugh, she symbolically chose for her star to be located in front of the movie theater where she had been fired in 1951. Starting in 1967, she redefined sketch comedy with her variety show, “The Carol Burnett Show.” In her lifetime, she has won 25 Emmys and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Peabody Career Achievement Award.
Burnett was born on April 26, 1933, in San Antonio, TX. Following her parents’ divorce, she moved to Hollywood, CA to live with her grandmother. After attending Hollywood High School, the aspiring playwright became a student at UCLA. Much to Burnett’s chagrin, all playwrights were required to take an acting class. When her stage performance generated a swell of laughter from the audience, Burnett realized that she wanted to become an actress after all. She moved to New York City with her then-boyfriend, Don Saroyan, to break into acting.
Burnett scored a series of television appearances and CBS specials throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Additionally, in 1959, she made her Broadway debut in “Once Upon A Mattress.” When Burnett was approached by CBS to star in her own show, the network first turned down her idea to do a variety show. They told her that only men could handle that format. Burnett pushed back and proved the executives wrong.
“The Carol Burnett Show” premiered in 1967 and stayed on the air for 11 seasons, winning a total of 23 Emmys. Each episode began with an impromptu question-and-answer session with Burnett and the audience. The show featured a host of hilarious comedy skits and sketches, performed by the talented ensemble cast of Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, and Vicki Lawrence. Each episode culminated with Burnett singing the heartfelt, “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together,” capped off with her signature ear tug (a message to her grandmother).
After “The Carol Burnett Show” ended, Burnett appeared in a series of films and TV shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s. She continues to star in movies and television shows, with guest appearances on “Desperate Housewives” in 2006, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” in 2009 and “Glee” in 2010. And at 85-years-old, there is no slowing down in sight: “When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go.”