Carol Burnett convinced Harvey Korman to appear on ''The Carol Burnett Show'' by shouting at him in a parking lot

Korman was a standout in the series.

Assembling the cast of The Carol Burnett Show sort of feels like assembling the Avengers, except instead of Earth's mightiest heroes, The Carol Burnett Show celebrates Earth's funniest people. At any rate, hearing the story of a cast member's recruitment to the show feels like the stuff of legends.

Carol Burnett was kind enough to share Harvey Korman's recruitment story, and obviously, it's hilarious. In her book, This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection, Burnett spoke of her former costar, and his common label of "Second Banana," a title he received during his time on The Danny Kaye Show

Burnett wrote, "'Second banana' is a term that has been used in comedy as far back as I can remember. It probably dates back to vaudeville. I never took to it much, though, because the good ones never fit into that 'second' slot as far as I was concerned. In fact, lots of times they were the ones who walked away with the laughs...if the star would allow it."

The casting of Harvey Korman has often been told and repeated, with each story claiming that Burnett and the casting team were searching for a "Harvey Korman-type" before Burnett came up with the idea to simply get the real deal. She wrote, "I came to the brilliant conclusion to actually ask THE Harvey Korman himself if he would work with us. Now that Danny's show would no longer be on, could we...would he...?"

She continued, "I believe we had a call in to his agent when one afternoon I happened to see Harvey himself headed for his car in the CBS parking lot at Television City. He didn't notice me. I thought about it for a nanosecond and then I shouted, 'Harvey!' He turned and smiled. We hardly knew each other. I waved, smiled back, and proceeded to jump him. I may be exaggerating, but I seem to remember leaning him back over a car hood."

Specifically, Burnett said her words were, "Please, please be on our show! You're the very best! PLEASE?" She acknowledged, "It wasn't exactly the most professional way to offer someone a job, but it worked. Harvey signed on, and I was in heaven." 

She reflected on Korman, and said, "I don't think there's anybody who can top what he could do. I've always felt that it's a wise thing to play tennis with a better player because it makes your own game that much better. And that's what Harvey was to me as a fellow actor. He made my game better. He made everyone's game better."

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11 Comments

Avie 1 month ago
Audiences don't remember WHO made them laugh, only that the show they tuned into, or movie they saw was funny. THEN the star gets all the credit, anyway, so any star who won't let the supporting players get the laughs is only shooting him- or herself in the foot.
ecarfar 1 month ago
I never really found him funny in anything I ever watched him in....except the times he couldn't control his laughter with Tim Conway...those scenes are some of the funniest in TV history.
jimmyvici 1 month ago
My favorite thing about Harvey is that he always broke character to laugh during his skits. Especially when Tim Conway was around. Honestly, I can’t get enough of that. Now that was pure comedy.
Jacki jimmyvici 1 month ago
Absolutely. I love those sketches with Harvey and Tim.
Yort 1 month ago
Without Harvey Korman I don't think the Carol Burnett Show would have been a success. He was a brilliant comedian!
jimmyvici Yort 1 month ago
I was about to message that when I read yours. Agreed 100% amigo
McGillahooala 1 month ago
The true greats think about doing a great show, not if they will be upstaged by their costars. Good for Carol for assembling such a funny group of people.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Great story! Harvey Korman was EXCELLENT! Glad he decided to perform on The Carol Burnett Show.
WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
Of course, Korman was brilliant on the Carol Burnett Show, but (IMO) his best role was Hedly "Not Heddy" Lamarr in Blazing Saddles.
justjeff WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
...but Hedy Lamarr was so incensed by the play on nher name that she actgually filed suit against Mel Brooks for $10 Million in June of 1974 because she claimed he exploited her name never asked permission to use it [even in the humorus derivation].

According to Wikipedia:

"Brooks said he was flattered; the studio settled out of court for an undisclosed nominal sum and an apology to Lamarr for "almost using her name". Brooks said that Lamarr "never got the joke"."
I think his greatest was "Count Da Money "in History of the World part 1"
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