Wednesday, April 26, 2023

90 Candles


You can bet your finest window-dressing evening gown I'll be tuning in to watch "Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love" on NBC tonight. Hard to think of another televison series that has left a more indelible mark on me than the comedy legend's long-running variety show -- from seeing my homelife portrayed in "The Family" to discovering my "no-no parts" via Lyle Waggoner, (As a matter of fact, Damian and I happened upon an episode just last night with an edgy skit where a gullible mistress ages 50 years in solitude waiting for her man, who was "just about" to divorce his wife to be with her any day now!) 

"The Carol Burnett Show" and its after-school iteration ("Carol Burnett and Friends") even inspired my first (and only) drag and first (and only) acting performances , in the critically overlooked garage production of "Christmas at Harvey's." (I was later blown away by her TV film "Friendly Fire" and her performance in "The Four Seasons," even though my friend Mark and I arrived earlier and got confused and didn't enter the theater right away thinking the previous showing was still in progress so only saw "The Three Seasons.") 

While Carol the person may not perfect -- Vicki Lawrence has talked about the "silent treatment" years after she agreed to do the syndicated version of "Mama's Family" with Carol's ex-husband -- a show Carol bullied Vicki into doing in the first place(!) -- and others I know who have worked with her have described her in unflattering terms, it's worth noting that she was a trailblazer in many ways, including on race relations. 

My friend Jay Blotcher writes:
A national treasure turns 90 today. There are numerous reasons to celebrate Carol Burnett's wit and talent. But I'd like to focus on an overlooked aspect of her career. I recently returned to late 1960s episodes of "The Carol Burnett Show" and was surprised to see skits that satirically attacked racism and segregation. One bold sketch even slammed George Wallace, a prominent Southern politician and proud racist of the era. And she didn't shrink from sharing the stage with people of color. One doesn't think of Carol Burnett as a political comedian, but her nationally aired show took a clear stand on race relations while America was still making up its mind.
And in fairness to Carol Burnett the woman, she lost one kid -- first to drugs and then to lung cancer -- and is having to raise another addict child's youngster while in her most golden of golden years, which cannot be easy. Talk about friendly fire.

P.S. Hollywood really blew it a few years ago when it opted against her scripted show via Amy Poehler in favor of that “Kids Say the Darndest Things” knockoff. 


VRCooper said...

Girl, please!!

I know there are Poaroids ready to pop up of you doing drag all over New York City in your younger days. People are just waiting for the right price. I don't know what you called yourself but I believe you didn't have as many aliases as Goerge Santos. Or whatever she goes by these days.

In all seriousness thanks for flipping the coin. I never really heard of any scuttlebutt on Carol. I suppose to have gotten to her level she may have ruffled a few feathers. One thing is for sure she is a far-reaching talent.

Jaradon said...

Love Carol

Sentimental Fury said...

I have such great memories of watching Carol Burnett on TV as a child. I cried when her show ended because it was like a friend had moved away.