From sketch comedy to mentorship: Cementing Carol Burnett’s legacy with a special Golden Globe

Carol Burnett is the kind of acclaimed performer whose awards attention isn’t merely focusing on EGOTing (although she is almost there, having won six Emmys, a Grammy and a special Tony). The legendary actress and comedian has also picked up two Peabody Awards, the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and five Golden Globes — among others — in her almost seven-decade long career. Now, she will not only accept the inaugural special achievement in television award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. at the 2019 Golden Globes, but that award will also be named for her.

Last year, after Burnett found out she was receiving her second Peabody, she told Variety that she felt “gobsmacked” by the continued honors. But those who have worked with her — and those who have grown up inspired by her — are far less surprised.

“Carol is so versatile in her character work, while still showing us the human underneath it all. You never feel like she’s putting on a mask — she’s showing you different aspects of HER,” says “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” co-creator and star Rachel Bloom, who recalls watching Burnett in the 1982 film “Annie” and being “instantly drawn to the nuanced ways” she played the villainous character.

“Not one choice was the obvious one,” she says. “I have seen her massive collection of Golden Globes and, honestly, she still deserves 100 more.”

PHOTOS: Carol Burnett through the years

35 PHOTOS
Carol Burnett through the years
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Carol Burnett through the years
A portrait of American actor and comedian Carol Burnett sitting on a lounge, wearing a black dress with her hands folded. The dress is classic 60's style with sequins and a high neckline.
Carol Burnett and Joe Hamilton during 27th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Carol is seen wearing a white neck scarf with a delicate circular broach.
Joe Hamilton and Carol Burnett during International Radio and TV Society Gold Medal Awards wearing a chic yellow dress with sequins and a polka dot red coat.
Joe Hamilton and Carol Burnett during Carol Burnett Testimonial Dinner. Carol is seen wearing a sleeveless dress with a matching shawl covering her arms.
Entertainer Cher attends an event with Carol Burnett. Carol is seen in a gorgeous embroidered dress with some serious shoulder pads. A sign of the times. 
Carol Burnett and Joe Hamilton were spotted outside their hotel, Carol wearing a loose fitting striped dress with an oversized flower around her neck.

Carol attends the 36th Annual Golden Globe Awards in an all white dress, completely covered up.

Carol attends the 7th Annual People's Choice Awards showing off a serious suntan in a strapless, beachy dress with a purple seashell cover-up.

Carol Burnett and her daughter Carrie Hamilton attend the Kennedy Center Honors in gorgeous dresses. Carol is wearing an intricate floor length gown with plenty of sequins.

Ahead of her time, Carol is seen wearing a wrap dress with a chic diamond clutch.

Carol Burnett is all smiles, wearing a black and white polka dot top while hugging Phyllis Diller.

Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore attend the "Carol Burnett Exhibit" on display in Los Angeles. You know you've arrived when you have an entire exhibit dedicated to you.

Carol is not afraid of an over-the-top blazer to go with a simple black dress.
Saying hello to the paparazzi, Carol is seen wearing a brown coat with colorful blocking. 
Carol Burnett during 5th Annual Sterling Awards in red from head to toe.
Carol's hair transformed along with her style, and she was sporting a beautiful short red hairstyle in 1993.
Carol's style was all her own, and she looked fabulous in this cropped blazer with white trim.
Talk about two style icons, Carol and Liza Minelli are spotted chatting at a party. Carol is wearing an all-gold sequin blazer while Liza is subdued in black.
Dressed for the occasion, Carol looks gorgeous in a black gown with a sheer shawl.
Nothing like adding a pop of color to get noticed!
We're seeing a trend in Carol's style, SEQUINS! The funny gal is in love with wearing the sparkly embellishments.
Carol shows off her American Comedy Award in an all pink skirt and blazer.
Wearing darker colors, Carol is seen wearing a turtleneck under a chic black blazer.
Even in the late '90s Carol can make herself laugh. The actress sure knows how to use color in her favor with this gorgeous striped skirt.
Carol Burnett is showing quite a bit of leg in this photo, wearing a skirt and matching blazer.
Pretty in purple, Carol attends the premiere of the Producers on broadway.
Carol Burnett is a Kennedy Center Honors recipient, dressed in all white. She looks stunning. 
Carol poses outside at the 5th Annual TV Land Awards in a purple blazer and black skirt. The funny lady always looks her best for a red carpet.
Carol Burnett attends the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in a firey red ensemble. The outfit perfectly matches her hair.
Dressed in all black, Carol is totally age appropriate in this conservative number.
While making an appearance at the Tonight Show, Carol wears a red blazer with a black turtleneck underneath.
Oversized tunics start to become Carol's red carpet staple, seen here in coral with a long necklace.
Carol Burnett poses backstage following a performance by Linda Lavin in a classic black ensemble.
Actress and comedian Carol Burnett arrives at the Hooray For Hollywood event wearing a similar black outfit with ruffles.
Carol Burnett attends the naming ceremony and plaque unveiling Of "Carol Burnett Square" in Los Angeles, wearing one of her classic white blazers.
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Burnett’s first meaty small-screen gig was in the late 1950s when she played the girlfriend of Buddy Hackett’s titular character in NBC’s sitcom “Stanley.” She soon went on to guest star in a number of other series including “The Twilight Zone,” “Get Smart” and “The Lucy Show” and appear for three years on “The Garry Moore Show.” Burnett also received a 10-year deal with CBS that included a clause saying she could do a 30-episode variety show; just five years after honing her sketch comedy chops on “The Garry Moore Show,” she took CBS up on that clause, launching “The Carol Burnett Show” in 1967.

“The Carol Burnett Show” featured extravagant musical numbers and detail-oriented comedy pieces, allowing Burnett to display the diversity of her performance skills. She played everyone from Mrs. Wiggins, a secretary who, she likes to say, “the IQ fairy never visited,” to Eunice, a put-upon member of a complicated family, to her distinct versions of Scarlett O’Hara and Norma Desmond in parodies of “Gone With the Wind” and “Sunset Boulevard,” respectively.

However, even as the show was setting Burnett apart by showcasing her immense talents, it also allowed the audience to feel like they were getting to know her as a person, as she started each show by dropping the fourth wall and taking questions, and often gifts, directly from the audience.

“For those 30 shows we were just going to have a ball. That was the idea. We didn’t know if we’d ever get to do any more than those, but we knew we had 30 shows, and we were going to make the most of them,” Burnett told Variety last year.

But the series went on far longer than a mere 30 episodes. “The Carol Burnett Show” ran for 11 seasons on its own and saw episodes re-edited for a syndicated half-hour version titled “Carol Burnett and Friends.” It was also revived for brief new series and specials, including “Carol Burnett & Company” in 1979, “Carol & Company” in 1990, “The Carol Burnett Show: A Reunion” in 1993 and, of course, spinoff sitcom “Mama’s Family” in 1983.

Carol Burnett first portrayed Eunice Harper Higgins on “The Carol Burnett Show” in 1973.
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Burnett also proved she had a keen eye for talent when filling out the cast for “The Carol Burnett Show.” Harvey Korman and Lyle Waggoner were hired to support Burnett in that first season of the show, and Burnett brought in the then-unknown Vicki Lawrence, as well. Famously, the story goes that Lawrence had written Burnett a letter, and Burnett showed up at a contest into which Lawrence had entered. Because of the similarities in their looks, and because of the talent Burnett saw at that contest, she invited Lawrence to audition to play her younger sister on her show.

“I can’t even imagine what in the hell it was that Carol saw in me that she decided to take that kind of a chance,” Lawrence says.

Burnett helped Lawrence hone her craft, often “just by osmosis,” Lawrence continues. “It was pretty hard not to learn from her just sitting in the audience and watching over and over.”

PHOTOS: Carol Burnett with her late daughter, Carrie Hamilton

21 PHOTOS
Carol Burnett and late daughter Carrie Hamilton together
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Carol Burnett and late daughter Carrie Hamilton together
Joe Hamilton, Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett during 36th Annual Golden Globe Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 23: Comedienne Carol Burnett, (left) and her daughter Carrie Hamilton (center) join Dinah Shore for the taping of the 'Dinah and Friends' show on October 23, 1979 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joan Adlen/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 14: Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 17: Carrie and Erin Hamilton with mother Carol Burnett (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 17: Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1983: Carol Burnett with daughter Carrie Hamilton circa 1983 in New York City. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)
Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett during Kennedy Center Honors - January 1, 1983 at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Washington D.C., United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Carol Burnett and Daughter Carrie Hamilton during Kennedy Center Honors - January 1, 1983 at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 01: Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton during Board of Trustees Dinner - December 03, 1983 at State Department in Washington D.C., Washington D.C., United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton during Yves Saint Laurent Fashion Retrospective - December 5, 1983 at Metropolitian Museum of Art in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
(L-R) Actress Carrie Hamilton and mother, actress Carol Burnett. (Photo by Kevin Winter/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton during AFI Lifetime Achievement Award to Billy Wilder at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Jody Hamilton, Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton during 5th Annual Mother-Daughter Fashion Show - March 27, 1986 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Carrie Hamilton, Carol Burnett and Jody Hamilton during 5th Annual Mother-Daughter Fashion Show - March 27, 1986 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 5: Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett (daughter and mother) in a gallery portrait session. Photo session conducted during filming of the made-for-TV movie 'Hostage.' Image dated November 5, 1987. (Photo by Tony Esparza/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 5: Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett (daughter and mother) in a gallery portrait session. Photo session conducted during filming of the made-for-TV movie 'Hostage.' Image dated November 5, 1987. (Photo by Tony Esparza/CBS via Getty Images)
Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton during Birthday Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald Hosted by the Society of Singers - April 28, 1989 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett during 34th Annual Thalians Ball at Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actress Carol Burnett (C) celebrating her opening night in Broadway play Moon Over Buffalo w. daughters Carrie (L) & Jodie Hamilton. (Photo by Robin Platzer/Twin Images/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Carrie Hamilton, Carol Burnett and Jody Hamilton during Museum of Television and Radio Opening - March 17, 1999 at Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
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Even more important than learning about performing, though, Lawrence says, she learned about how show business could and should run from Burnett.

“I do think there’s something to the whole trickle-down theory because as it is at the top of the company, so runs the whole company. There was just no room for people to be prima donnas or idiots or angry or mean because Carol’s the kind of person who knows everybody — she knows the prop man’s name; she knows his dog; she knows his kid,” she explains. “And now in this era of, ‘Let’s really examine women in this business and what they’ve been through and what they’ve gone through to get to where they are,’ it makes it even more special because she was a woman doing all of this.”

And Burnett didn’t stop at comedy. Over the years she often appeared on television dramas ranging from the original “Magnum PI” to the reboot of “Hawaii Five-O,” as well as “Touched by an Angel,” “Law & Order: SVU” and daytime soap opera “All My Children.” She also performed live on stage in quite a few Broadway productions, including “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Moon Over Buffalo” and “Putting It Together.” Most recently, she created a different kind of variety talk show — one that featured children doling out advice, titled “A Little Help With Carol Burnett.”

“Carol has been and always will be very likeable, and the audience senses that immediately,” says Carol Leifer, who wrote on “A Little Help.” “Her talent takes it from there, but I think it’s that foundation of connection and good will towards people that makes her a star.”

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