9 things you might not know about Carol Burnett

The comedy legend has ties to fake twins, 'Sesame Street,' 'The Twilight Zone' and the Carpenters.

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Image: AP Photo

Carol Burnett remains one of the most beloved entertainers in America. Her career spans seven decades and her influence can never be overstated. The Carol Burnett Show (edited down and dubbed Carol Burnett and Friends in reruns) broke new ground in television sketch comedy and spawned dozens of lasting characters. Like its star, it also had a ton of heart.

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1. She had an imaginary twin as a child.


Well, not quite imaginary in the invisible friend sense. In the fourth grade, Carol created perhaps her first elaborate comedy routine when she dressed up as Karen, her fake twin sister. Burnett would dash about the boarding house in which she lived with her grandmother, swapping clothes to pull off the ruse. 

Image: AP Photo

2. She had her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame placed out of spite.


As a young woman, Burnett was working as an usher at the Warner Theatre in Hollywood. One day, a couple came in late to see Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. Burnett advised the two to wait until the next show in order to catch the entire movie, as it was so good. Overhearing the advice, her manager fired her on the spot, ripping the epaulettes off her uniform. Years later, when Burnett earned her star on the Walk of Fame, she requested that it be placed in front of the same theater, now called the Pacific. Oh, snap!

Image: AP Photo/DAB

3. She had to drop out of her hit Broadway show due to a taxi accident.


Fade Out – Fade In was a critical and commercial smash upon its premiere in 1964. Set in the golden age of Hollywood, the musical featured Burnett as a chorus girl who gets a chance to be a movie star. She also got to parody screen idols such as Shirley Temple, as seen in the photo. Two months after opening, Burnett sustained a serious neck injury in a taxi cab accident. Betty Hutton filled in as the lead.

Image: AP Photo

4. She turned down a sitcom offer from Lucille Ball.


Beginning in 1966, Burnett made a handful of appearances on The Lucy Show, and Ball became a mentor to the rising comedian. Ball and CBS reportedly offered Burnett a sitcom called Here's Agnes to showcase her talents, to be produced by Desilu. However, Burnett had a clause in her existing contract with CBS to host a variety show and The Carol Burnett Show was born.

Image: AP Photo/Nick Ut

5. She starred in an episode of 'The Twilight Zone.'


Burnett undoubtedly called upon her life experience to portray a theater worker looking for a break in the 1962 episode "Cavender Is Coming." A guardian angel is given 24 hours to help the character — who is named Agnes, coincidentally. Naturally, Agnes learns that money and success aren't everything.

6. Jim Nabors was her good luck charm.


The Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. star would be the first guest on The Carol Burnett Show on September 11, 1967. Because the show clicked with audiences, Burnett had Nabors return as a guest on the first episode of every season through 1977, considering him a good luck charm. Burnett also appeared as "Sgt. Carol" on Gomer Pyle alongside her good friend.

Image: AP Photo

7. She was the first celebrity to appear on Sesame Street.


Speaking of first episode guests, Burnett appeared on the premiere of Sesame Street in 1969. She demonstrated how to wiggle a nose and kissed a rubber ducky.

Image: Sesame Street

8. She successfully sued 'The National Enquirer.'


In March 1976, the tabloid printed a hyperbolic and untrue story of an inebriated Burnett getting into an argument with Henry Kissinger in a restaurant. Burnett sued the rag for libel claiming "actual malice." She won the case and the jury awarded her $300,000 in compensatory damages and $1.3 million in punitive damages in the 1981 trial. (The two parties would later reach a settlement in 1984.) The court also found that The Enquirer did not classify as a "newspaper" under California libel law.

Image: AP Photo/Rasmussen

9. She covered the Carpenters and Carol King on an album.


Considering her Broadway chops and variety show success, it should come as no surprise that Burnett recorded a handful of albums. Carol Burnett Remembers How They Stopped The Show (1963), Let Me Entertain You: Carol Burnett Sings (1964), Carol Burnett Sings (1967), and Here's Carol! Carol Burnett Sings (1968) were rich with show tunes and standards. Her 1972 platter, Featuring If I Could Write a Song "For All We Know", dove into the soft rock of the era, drenched in strings and twinkling piano. She sang King's "It's Too Late," and a bizarre tune about cartoons and cereal called "Saturday Morning Confusion," written by Vicky Lawrence's husband at the time, Bobby Russell.

Image: Allmusic

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Wiseguy 37 months ago
And her Twilight Zone episode was the only episode to have a laugh track, until laugh tracks got a bad rep and it was removed.

She also had a recurring role on the new Hawaii Five-0 as Steve McGarrett's aunt.
billmilesjr 37 months ago
CouchPotato19 37 months ago
Strange that Lucille Ball died on Carol's Birthday, April 26th, 1989.
MikefromJersey 37 months ago
When asked who was the sexiest actress he performed with, Tom Selleck chose Carol. Since both
of his wives had appeared on Magnum, he might have gotten some blow back on that.
I agree with Tom that Carol had allure, her personality and wit a force multiplier.
I would choose a Carol in her prime any day over the supposed sex symbol Khardashiasn
nitwits. One of them was on Tony Danza's old talk show and asked Tony, after he had made a remark about New Jersey, "wait, I don't understand, is that a state"? For a good 20 seconds Tony was taken aback at her utter stupidity, gobsmacked as the Brits say, then recovered and quickly moved the conversation along, out of kindness.
Check out a young Carol as Jane and Jack Benny as Tarzan in a skit on the Jack Benny Show.
To quote Ed Norton, "Va va va voom." And I don't mean Benny.
TonyBensley 37 months ago
#2 is my favorite! Sick burn on the Theater Management!! :D
birddog 37 months ago
Happy "88" Carol Burnett!! and many more. I always enjoyed her show and the many, many guests that crossed her Stage. Plus can't forget the Walnuts in the Sack RR :))
dmzabooo 37 months ago
I’m surprised to hear MeTV call a fellow entertainment outlet a rag. Even though it’s not a reputable source of Hollywood news as they say. But they made money even if it was at the cost of so many others. But the tabloids have been an entertainment staple for ages. Nit defending the national enquirer just pointing out the pot calling the kettle black as they say?
dangler1907 DMZABO 37 months ago
That is pure nonsense. Comparing MeTV to the Enquirer shows that you know absolutely nothing about either of them.
CelticTwilight DMZABO 37 months ago
The Enquirer is a rag. I know you would like to stick up for them because they killed negative stories about your dear orange leader but the truth is the truth.
MichaelVaughan 37 months ago
I loved the Carol Burnett Show when it was on. I miss it. Carol is still as beautiful as then. I only with her show on METV wasn't on so late in the evening. I only wish to be able to communicate with her. Well, God Bless her and her family.
FLETCH MichaelVaughan 37 months ago
The show is on MeTV
Wiseguy FLETCH 37 months ago
That's what he said.
trogg888 37 months ago
when i was a kid there was a show called the gary moore show and she along with derward kirby were also featured
Wiseguy trogg888 37 months ago
That's Garry and Durward. Both made an appearance on a Carol Burnett Show episode which MeTV shows.
KevinButler 37 months ago
Ms.Burnett's first tv appearance was actually on Ventriloquist/kids tv host/performer:Paul Winchell's Saturday morning kids tv series on the NBC TV Network in 1954/1955.
Gregory 37 months ago
In #5, I'm not getting the Agnes reference?
CarolKelley Gregory 37 months ago
CBS offered her a sitcom to be titled Here's Agnes in '66 and she had played a character called Agnes on an episode of The Twilight Zone in '62. There was no relation between the characters besides the name.
Wiseguy Gregory 37 months ago
Did you skip to #5 without reading #4?
Eb 37 months ago
I'm a Gomer Pyle fan so I knew number 6. She actually appeared first as a Corporal (E-4), then later as a Gunnery Sergeant (E-7), or Gunny for short. She was, what we called in the military, a very fast burner, so yes, Carol kicked rear in the Marines as well.
Wiseguy Eb 37 months ago
Beverly Archer, who appeared on Mama's Family, a spinoff of Carol Burnett Show in which Carol Burnett used to appear, later was a regular on Major Dad in which she played a Gunnery Sergeant nicknamed "Gunny." Small world.
BrianMoore 50 months ago
She kicked The Enquirers ass? GO CAROL!
Nightshade1972 BrianMoore 34 months ago
The funny thing is, her management tried to tell her not to sue, "because any publicity is good publicity, and what happens if you lose?!" She ignored them, and won her case anyway.
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