Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Carol Burnett!

"When you have a dream, you've got to grab it and never let go." CAROL BURNETT

Happy Birthday, Carol Burnett!

Everyone’s favorite, Carol Burnett, is celebrating a birthday today. And a Very Happy 80th Birthday to the legendary actress, comedienne, singer, best-selling author and all around great human being!
 Carol Burnett may be best known for her work on the hit sketch comedy show, The Carol Burnett Show, but she worked hard to get noticed and today I'm letting her know that we have noticed!

My blog today is a VALENTINE to you. You have been an inspiration my entire life. Not only have you given me such wonderful nights of entertainment (I never missed your show), and I was lucky enough to see you LIVE in Moon Over Buffalo, but your personal life has inspired me on many levels. I, too, had a very close bond with my grandmother. I also grew up in an alcoholic household. I also found my escape in old movies. The bottom line is I LOVE YOU! Happy Birthday and this blog today is a celebration of YOU! I'm so glad we had this time together!
The Carol Burnett Show almost never was.
We are the better for it since it did happen. Can you imagine our lives without The Carol Burnett Show? My Saturday nights would have been unbearable without my weekly dose of Carol Burnett.
I'm not alone in my thoughts. Keep reading...
I have asked my Facebook friends and followers to send anything they would like to relay to Carol. They are included here as well. Enjoy, Carol!

Happy Birthday Carol Burnett! How many used to watch her show??

Richard, when I was in grade school, my friends and I played "As the Stomach Turns" every single day after school. And I was always Marion. Carol Burnett is a role model.
-Melanie Votaw

Carol Burnett, who appeared at the book festival Saturday, talked about her daughter who died young. "We had one hell of a ride during her 38 years," said Burnett, 79. (Arksaha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times / April 20, 2013)

On Saturday afternoon at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, I was sitting cheek-by-jowl with hundreds of sweaty book lovers in USC's Bovard Auditorium. But for a moment I could have been in a New Jersey living room in 1975, watching "The Carol Burnett Show." (Los Angeles Times by Margaret Gray: Full Story HERE)

Carol inspired me in so many ways.....obviously her comedic talents are spectacular...........but her dramatic abilities are just as amazing! All good comedy comes from Drama anyway and I dealt with alcoholism as a child in the family like Carol did and in many ways it helped me as an actor myself. Her own struggles growing up really inspired me and gave me the confidence to succeed. I want to say a huge happy Birthday and THANKS to Carol for all she has given to the world! I grew up in Georgia so need I say more about how much MAMA'S FAMILY really hit the nail on the head for me.........lastly I lost my brother when he was 16 and I was 13 and we were both struck by lightning and he died instantly. I know the pain that I witnessed with my parents losing a child so my heart goes out to her on every level and as always she has helped millions with her honesty!
-Jasper Cole

From William Garon:

Ms. Burnett,

You are the sole reason that I am in this business. There have been other influences (Gordon MacRae was my vocal inspiration), but you and your show are what launched me into a career which has spanned 32 years and taken me to 42 countries. Never on a grand scale...I'm sort of at the top of the "middle time." 

You did a show, one of your end-of-the-year musicals (that my family lived for), with Rock Hudson. It featured the "Push Cart" number from "George M." Directly after watching that show, I walked into my bathroom, looked at myself directly in the mirror, and said, "THAT is what I am going to do with my life" No questions, no doubts, no nothing. And I made it happen. You have always inspired me, and continue to do so. Thank you.

When I think of her, I actually see a montage in my head--like a bad '80's TV effect. The iconic "Went With the Wind" dress, the Bob Mackie gowns at the top of each show and the like. She just makes me happy. Excuse me if you find this sacrilegious, but I really wish she would have gotten to play Mama Rose at some point. I think there is a lot in her life experience that could have been channeled into that role.

From Ron Runyon:  Here you go, Richard - as promised; two reminisces of Carol: First, I always had date night with my family no matter which time- slot her show moved to - ALWAYS with my Grandmother ... 
This of course was back in the days before canned soda, we were given a treat of soda in a bottle watching the show together - Well, one viewing I was taking a sip and Carol pulled one of her many zingers and made me laugh so hard that I chipped my front tooth on the lip of the bottle as I was taking a sip! TO This day, when I brush my teeth or look in the mirror I ALWAYS think of Carol!! Second memory was being delighted to meet her at the Tony Awards (where this photo was taken) SHY and not knowing what to say to a legend ... I told her she had a friend that I just loved, Beverly Sills ... She squeezed my hand and gushed back "I just love her, too"! Beverly as always brought people together - Carol graciously posed for this "dance photo" - as I asked her ... " from one wallflower to another, may I have this dance? " - Please tell her she's still my favorite dance partner and my best wishes for a happy birthday! ! Xoxox
Ron Runyan with Carol

 Carol Burnett was the first comedian that I remember as a child. I recall seeing the cartoon of her janitor character and feeling so excited that this meant that her show was coming on. The Carol Burnett show was as special to me as those yearly broadcasts of "The Wizard of Oz," except that we got Carol's magic each and every week. I will forever associate Carol Burnett's comedy with the happy times in my childhood. Carol and her comedy became the one thing that my mother and I had in common back then, and it was the rare hour when Carol was on tv that we would sit and laugh together...instead of fighting! (My mother and I had a relationship very much like Mama and Eunice's. Stressed, to say the least!)
As thousands of other comedians today can certainly claim, I was introduced to the liberation and the freedom that comedy allows by watching Carol do it so flawlessly. Carol's physicality, her comedic timing, and, most of all, her fearlessness to "look ridiculous" set me on my path to attempt the same. My character, Lady Winifred, exists in large part because of Carol Burnett's powerful, positive influence. Lady Winifred even speaks directly to the audience, which is something I do as a direct tribute to Carol's famous show openings. Happy BIrthday, Carol, Burnett. Following your passion in your own life has created a never-ending ripple effect in this world that will continue to inspire our future comedians for decades to come.

Much love and respect,
Dewey Chaffee

I was a page at CBS at the turn of this century. She was there to do a reunion show. My.mean boss wouldn't put me on it, so I came to the studio anyway and sat through the all day rehearsal and then later the two tapings with an audience. When I was leaving I was Curtis.g across the backstage. Carol came out of her dressing room saw me, pulled me over and hugged and kissed me. She said, thank you for staying with us all day! I didn't even know she saw me in the audience. I almost cried. It was two dreams come true in one night. 
No one in Hollywood has her class.
I had grown up watching the show and Loved her forever. It was so incredible. During the break between shows I got to meet two of her daughters, Bob Mackie, and some of the dancers from the original show who Were in the audience too. It was truly magical!

-Lenny Dawson 
 Carol was the second star I ever wrote a letter to. I had to live with my grandmother at the time, just as she did as a child. Carol was so kind to answer each question! I adore her. I prayed for Carrie and loved the movie she and Carrie did together. I miss Carol on TV!
Rebecca Noel

America, in the 1960s and ‘70s, was in turmoil – the civil rights struggle, the war in Vietnam and the sexual revolution defined a nation in conflict. But, at 10:00 every Saturday night, in dorms and dens, in living rooms and bedrooms across the country, Americans watched The Carol Burnett Show. For 11 years, this whacky performer yelled like Tarzan and won our hearts, often breaking our hearts, with her edgy – always sympathetic characters. 
She could fall down a flight of stairs or take a pie in the face like nobody else. She could also wear a slinky sequined gown and hold her own in a duet with Bing Crosby or Julie Andrews. She was open, honest, a real person – our friend. Yet, as with so many brilliant comedians, hers was a difficult childhood and a glimpse of something deeper, darker began to emerge in the dramatic career that followed her TV variety show. (Source: American Masters, PBS, Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character)

Carol Burnett as Calamity Jane
Carol Creighton Burnett (born April 26) is an American actress, comedienne, singer, and writer. She is best known for her long-running TV variety show, The Carol Burnett Show, for CBS. She has achieved success on stage, television, and film in varying genres including dramatic and comedy roles.

Burnett was born in San Antonio, Texas, the daughter of Ina Louise (née Creighton), a publicity writer for movie studios, and Joseph Thomas Burnett, a movie theater manager. Both of her parents suffered from alcoholism, and at a young age, she was left with her grandmother, Mabel Eudora White. 

Her parents divorced in the late 1930s, and Burnett and her grandmother moved to an apartment near her mother’s in an impoverished area of Hollywood. There they stayed in a boarding house with her younger half-sister Chrissy.When Burnett was in the second grade, she briefly invented an imaginary twin sister named Karen, with Shirley Temple-like dimples. Motivated to further the pretense, Burnett recalled fondly that she "fooled the other boarders in the
Once Upon a Mattress
rooming house where we lived by frantically switching clothes and dashing in and out of the house by the fire escape and the front door. Then I became exhausted and Karen mysteriously vanished."
When Carol moved to Hollywood in the 1930s, she worked as an usher at a Hollywood theater, and it was at the Hollywood Pacific Theater where she first caught the acting/comedy bug. After graduating from high school, Carol attended UCLA. She quickly realized that this bug was indeed a passion for theater arts and turned her focus towards a budding playwright career. After graduating from Hollywood High School in 1951, Burnett won a scholarship to UCLA, where she initially planned on studying journalism. During her first year of college, Burnett switched her focus to theater arts and English, with the goal of becoming a playwright. She found she had to take an acting course to enter the playwright program; "I wasn't really ready to do the acting thing, but I had no choice."She followed a sudden impulse in her first performance; "Don't ask me why, but when we were in front of the audience, I suddenly decided I was going to stretch out all my words and my first line came out 'I'm baaaaaaaack!'" The audience response moved her deeply:
    They laughed and it felt great. All of a sudden, after so much coldness and emptiness in my life, I knew the sensation of all that warmth wrapping around me. I had always been a quiet, shy, sad sort of girl and then everything changed for me. You spend the rest of your life hoping you'll hear a laugh that great again.

During this time, Burnett performed in several university productions, garnering recognition for her comedic and musical abilities. Her mother disapproved of her acting ambitions:
She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like. When I was growing up she told me to be a little lady, and a couple of times I got a whack for crossing my eyes or making funny faces. Of course, she never, I never, dreamed I would ever perform.
Carol got her first big break in 1959 when she was cast in the musical
Once Upon a Mattress, for which she was nominated for her first Tony Award. When CBS approached Carol in 1967 to host a variety series called The Carol Burnett Show, her career changed forever. The show lasted more then 10-years and continues to run on syndication television today. She soon made her television debut, regularly appearing on The Garry Moore Show for the next three years, and winning her first Emmy Award in 1962. Burnett moved to Los Angeles and began an 11-year run on The Carol Burnett Show which was aired on CBS television from 1967 to 1978. With roots in vaudeville, The Carol Burnett Show was a variety show that combined comedy sketches, song and dance. The comedy sketches included film parodies and character pieces. Burnett created many memorable characters during the show's television run, and both she and the show won numerous Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.
 During and after her variety show, Burnett appeared in many television and film projects. Her film roles include Pete 'n' Tillie (1972), The Four Seasons (1981), Annie (1982), Noises Off (1992), and Horton Hears a Who! (2008). 
On television, she has appeared in other sketch shows; in dramatic roles in 6 Rms Riv Vu (1974) and Friendly Fire (1979); in various well-regarded guest roles, such as in Mad About You,
for which she won an Emmy Award; and in specials with Julie Andrews, Dolly Parton, Beverly Sills, and others.
 She was also back on Broadway in 1995 in Moon Over Buffalo, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award.
(Source: Wikipedia)

 I had a good loud voice and I wasn't afraid to be goofy or zany.
-Carol Burnett

There is a great blog called Style List by Hillary Scott. She has devoted today's blog to Carol Burnett. She writes, " On TV, Carol's style adapted to the roles she played. Whether she was dressed as the cleaning lady in one sketch or a teacher in another, her ability to transform into a character was further amplified by the costumes. In her personal life, Carol's style was classic. We've seen her in chic sleeveless dresses, embroidered tops, and over-the-top blazers. Her style truly transformed with each decade of her success."

Thank you Carol Burnett for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give! I still hope to interview you some day!

Be sure and order Carol's latest book, Carrie and Me, through Simon and Schuster. ORDER HERE

“More than anything, we are remembered for our smiles: the ones we share with our closest and dearest, and the one we bestow on a total stranger who needs it right then, and God has put us there to deliver.” — Carrie Hamilton

With grateful XOXOXs ,


Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!
I want this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with YOU!

And Don’t Let the Parade Pass You By! Reserve TODAY for Christine Toy Johnson in Hello, Dolly! MONDAY NIGHT April 29th with The National Asian Artists Project in NYC! 
Photo credit: Bruce Johnson

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


When it comes to the history of Jerry Herman’s brilliant production, beyond the 5000+ performances of my own, even I turn to Richard Skipper when I have questions about the remarkable ladies who followed me in the role that the world fell in love with over 50 years ago.”-Carol Channing

My next blog will be...My exclusive interview with choreographer and dancer Randy Slovocek on Hello, Dolly (Various productions)

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!


Richard Skipper,                            

This Blog is dedicated to Lucille Ball, who died on this date on April 26th, 1989


  1. Hi! I help run a Carol Burnett-dedicated blog on Tumblr and I just wanted to say that I LOVED this post and would love to link to it on the blog. Also many thanks for using one of my screenshots (the Eunice one) and one of my friend's gifs (the Miss Hannigan one ;) as examples of Carol's uber-greatness. We are at, if you want to check us out! Thanks again!

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