Carol Burnett at the Chicago Theatre

Carol Burnett at the Chicago Theatre

Carol Burnett is a versatile actress, comedienne, writer and singer who has been in the entertainment business since 1955.  She began her journey by living at the Rehearsal Club in New York, a boarding house for aspiring actresses that provided a resting place between auditions along with affordable meals and networking opportunities.  Burnett worked as an usherette at the Warner Brothers Theater but was fired for allowing a late arriving couple into a later showing of an Alfred Hitchcock film that was almost over.  Years later in the 70’s after becoming famous, Burnett got to choose the location for her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she chose 6439 Hollywood Blvd, right in front of where the old Warner Brothers Theater was located.


Carol Burnett’s star on the world famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Image source:

In 1959, Burnett got her first taste of true success when she appeared in the Broadway musical Once Upon a Mattress when she was nominated for a Tony Award.  Later that year she became a regular on The Garry Moore Show & won an Emmy Award for her “Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program/Series.”  In 1962, after she won an Emmy, her career escalated when she headlined the musical comedy special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall along with her friend Julie Andrews.  The show won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Music” and Burnett’s performance earned her a second Emmy.


Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress (1964), one of her first major roles that helped her break into show business. Image source:

During September of 1967, The Carol Burnett Show was born, a musical/comedy variety show that was nominated or won multiple Emmy or Golden Globe Awards in every season it was on the air.  The show featured an ensemble cast including Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, and a young Vicki Lawrence who was discovered & mentored by Carol Burnett herself.  At the time, the execs at CBS didn’t think the show would work since only male variety shows were successful until that point, but Carol Burnett came along & changed their minds after her show’s success.  A real variety show that featured sketches with movie/tv show parodies, musical numbers & commercials.  Burnett would open with impromptu Q&A sessions with the audience where she would demonstrate her ability to ad-lib on the spot.  The show ran for 11 seasons & no other show has come close to the impact this one had on American Television at the time.  In 2007, Time Magazine listed it as one of the “100 Best TV Shows of All Time.”


Touched up photo of the animated introduction from The Carol Burnett Show. Image source:

The Chicago Theatre will host 3 nights of Q&A sessions with Carol Burnett on May 17, 19 & 20.  These shows are always entertaining since Burnett is known for her improvisation skills & on the spot ad-libbing.  There’s no telling what kind of questions the audience will ask but you can expect some impressions & stories from the glory days of the Carol Burnett Show.  Great seats are available for purchase by clicking here.

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