She’s ‘a real live girl’

Carol Burnett makes her first British TV appearance on Granada’s The Variety Show

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 21 August 1960

VIVACIOUS, red-haired Carol Burnett, who makes her British TV debut in Granada’s The Variety Show on Wednesday, was telling me about her philosophy of life.

“I have one golden rule,” she said. “It’s simple. Do unto others as others do unto you.”

Carol Burnett

Carol, 26, has been exercising her exuberant comedy talent to advantage on American television. She said: “I guess I’m the luckiest girl in New York, where my career started in earnest. Everybody has been nice to me. So my aim is to be just as pleasant to others.”

She went on: “Like most comediennes I’m inclined to treat life seriously. You know, being a comedienne is a serious business.

“I studied at theatre art school in California. That’s where I did my first public performance. It was a musical comedy act. I remember it well … because I fell off the stage.” Later, said Carol, she went to New York.

In New York Carol got a job straight away — checking hats in a restaurant. But she moved to New York’s Rehearsal Club. “The problem,” she said, “ was getting good stage experience. So I hit on an idea. I suggested to the other girls at the club that we should all pitch in and put on a show of our own.

Carol Burnett

“We each contributed 25 cents a night to pay for the cost of a rehearsal hall. Then a number of New York socialites, who’d seen the preview of our show, decided to finance the production. It ran for three nights.”

Carol’s act was a take-off of Eartha Kitt, but with a difference. No shimmering Jacques Fath gown. “For laughs I wore a beat-up old house dress,” she said.

At this point an agent stepped in and signed her up. She got her first job on TV, as the girl friend of a ventriloquist’s dummy in a children’s series.

“Other TV dates followed,” said Carol. “My biggest hit was in Jack Paar’s show. I sang a satirical comedy song called I Made a Fool of Myself over John Foster Dulles. It amused the then Secretary of State so much that he ordered my recording for himself.”

A friend of Carol’s told me: “She’s a real live girl. Oh, she’s funny, but you have to see her in action to appreciate her brand of humour.”

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