Lucille Ball praised Carol Burnett's first performance in a 1984 interview
"I think she's one of the greatest gals I've ever met."
Being a newcomer in an industry filled with legends can be challenging to make your mark. Luckily for Carol Burnett, her talent always shined bright through her performances. It's something Lucille Ball knew from the moment she first met her.
Ball was 22 years older than Burnett, but that didn't stop the two from becoming great friends. Their friendship was so pure that Ball always sent her flowers on her birthday. During a 1984 interview, Ball spoke about the day she first met the then-rising superstar. The interview was for a profile on Burnett that a morning news show conducted.
"I'd be very happy to talk about Carol Burnett. I think she's one of the greatest gals I've ever met," she said. The two met backstage at a show called Once Upon A Mattress, and Ball was eager to see the newcomer she had heard about. "We were always interested in finding newcomers, of course. And I got there a little late. Not to catch the show, but the newcomer. Somebody had already found her."
According to the interview, Ball and her company initially wanted to sign Burnett, but someone already beat her to the punch. "I spent quite a bit of a while backstage, and I was trying to get her in there and get her signed up but somebody beat me to it. So we didn't get to use her very much, but, um, we became friends," the icon said. "She just had something [that you] couldn't escape. You just knew that this girl had it."
She revealed that Burnett remembered more of how their first encounter went, but those were the basics from what Ball could remember.
Ball wanted to make a pilot with the Carol Burnett Show star, but due to her being signed to someone else, it didn't happen. After gathering this information, the interviewer wanted to know why Ball was intrigued with Burnett.
"I had seen her performance. And I believed it. I saw a true comedian at work, and for a first performance, which I knew it was, I knew that it was unusual," she revealed. "She had it. And the audience loved her. She had honesty, believability, vulnerability."
She also said that Burnett's delivery during her performance was amazing. "She had a lot of energy during that show. And her timing was impeccable, and for someone that you never heard of before, a beginner, that's invaluable. You grab at that."
Although Ball's company missed out on the opportunity, the friendship between the two legends inspired many.