Carol Burnett on losing youngest daughter Carrie Hamilton in 2002: 'I think of her every day'


Carol Burnett is opening up about the 2002 loss of her youngest daughter, Carrie Hamilton, who died of cancer at the age of 38.

The legendary performer spoke to people about her actress daughter's heartbreaking passing, which happened after cancer spread from her lungs to her brain.

"I think of her every day," the 85-year-old television star told People. "She never leaves me. I just feel her."

"You don't get over it, but you cope," Burnett went on. "What else can you do? When Carrie died, I didn't want to get out of bed for a while, but I had a play to finish that we started that Hal Prince was going to direct. I owed it to Carrie, and I owed it to Hal."

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When the play, called "Hollywood Arms," was about to debut, a few telling signs appeared that told Burnett that Carrie was still with her in spirit.

See photos of Carole Burnett and Carrie Hamilton together:

"I got on a plane and said a little prayer to Carrie, and said, 'I've got to do this alone. Don't leave me alone. Give me a sign that you're with me,'" Burnett recalled. When she arrived at her New York hotel, there was a bouquet of birds of paradise flowers in her room, which was "Carrie's favorite flower."

"She had one tattooed on her right shoulder," she explained to People. "Then at dinner the maître d’ gave us a bottle of Champagne, and the label said 'Louise.' That was Carrie's middle name. Then it rained on opening night. Carrie and I were nuts for the rain."

When Carrie was still alive, Burnett recalls her daughter exhibiting some of the same characteristics as she did.

"She was very interested in people," the comic said. "She never met a stranger. I think it's in our genes, [knowing] you can make somebody's day by being kind. She also loved to write. One time she was in New York and it was the winter, and homeless people would come up and ask for money. She would say, 'I'll give you $10 if you tell me your story.' She would collect those stories and write about them."

Carrie's life wasn't without its hardship, though. The "Fame" actress struggled with drug addiction at a young age, and her famous mother's insistence that she receive treatment created friction in their relationship for several years.

"She got sober when she was 17," Burnett recalled. "I put her in a third rehab place, and oh my God, she hated me. I came to the conclusion that I had to love her enough to let her hate me. She got sober and we started bonding. We wound up working together, writing a play together. We worked together in three shows."

Carrie Hamilton was the youngest of Carol Burnett's three children with second husband, Joe Hamilton. They also shared daughters Jody and Erin Hamilton.

See more photos of Carol Burnett:

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