Carol Burnett, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor (also a two-time Tony nominee and a two-time Grammy nominee), appeared on Harry Connick, Jr.’s talk show Harry this week. In gearing up for the 50th Anniversary celebration special of The Carol Burnett Show and her new Netflix series, Burnett has been making more appearances and sharing behind-the-scenes stories from her days on set.
Still, part of The Carol Burnett Show’s success is a result of its time.
“We couldn’t do today what we did then because we had 12 dancers, we had two guest stars a week, we had a rep company, 65 costumes a week, 28-piece orchestra, and we rehearsed it just like you would do summer stock,” she said. “We’d tape like an hour and 15 minutes ... and we’d be out of there after doing all the sketches, all the musical [numbers] in a little over two hours. We did it like a Broadway show.
“Today they want to nit-pick everything and make it just perfect instead of going through it, rehearsing it, and then have a life,” she said.
The variety/comedy show won eight Golden Globes and nine Primetime Emmys, and Burnett chose to go off the air when she was still on top.
“I felt we’d done it,” she said in the video above. “That sometimes some sketches I said, ‘Didn’t we do something like that in the fifth year or the seventh?’ And I thought, ‘You know, it’s time to hang it up while we’re still doing well before somebody from the network says, “Stop doing this.”’ I wanted to leave before I was asked to leave.”
For all its success, The Carol Burnett Show was not what the network had in mind when they first signed her. Listen to her tell the story of her unprecedented contract below:
So what does the star miss about television today? She told Harry below: