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The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show.jpg
Format Variety, sketch comedy
Starring Carol Burnett
Harvey Korman
Vicki Lawrence
Lyle Waggoner
Tim Conway
Dick Van Dyke
Opening theme "Carol's Theme" by
Joe Hamilton [1]
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 11
No. of episodes 278
Executive producer(s) Bob Banner
Joe Hamilton
Running time ~54 mins.
Production company(s) Burngood, Inc. (1967-1972)
Punkin' Productions, Inc. (1972-1976)
Whacko, Inc. (1976-1978)
Original channel CBS
Original run September 11, 1967 – March 29, 1978

The Carol Burnett Show is a sketch comedy television show starring Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. It originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967 to March 29, 1978 for 278 episodes, and originated from CBS Television City's Studio 33. The series won 25 prime time Emmy Awards, and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All Time."[2]


Nielsen Ratings

  • Season 1 (1967–68): #27
  • Season 2 (1968–69): #24
  • Season 3 (1969–70): #13
  • Season 4 (1970–71): #25
  • Season 5 (1971–72): #23
  • Season 6 (1972–73): #22
  • Season 7 (1973–74): #27
  • Season 8 (1974–75): #29
  • Season 9 (1975–76): #29
  • Season 10(1976–77): #35
  • Season 11(1977–78): #43


The popular variety show made the stars household names with such sketches as "As the Stomach Turns", "Went with the Wind" (a parody of Gone with the Wind featuring a scene with Burnett as Scarlett O'Hara in the dress made from a window curtain, complete with the curtain rod), "Carol & Sis", "Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins", "The Family" (which would later spin off into a show called Mama's Family), "Nora Desmond" (Burnett's send-up of Gloria Swanson's character Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard), and "Stella Toddler." A frequent repeated segment was "Kitchen Commercials", in which cast members parodied TV commercials that drove a woman (Burnett) crazy. The show had frequent, high recognition guest stars. The long-running show was frequently nominated for Emmys, and won three times.

A unique feature of the show consisted of a question-and-answer segment involving Carol Burnett with the audience, in CBS Studio 33. Burnett usually did this for about 3–4 minutes at the start of most shows. Burnett would ask for the lights above the audience to be turned up ("Let's bump up the lights...") and then randomly pick audience members who raised their hand to ask her a question. This informality was possible due to the design of Studio 33; cameras were to the left and right of the stage with one below in the pit and one suspended, so the actors were very close to the audience.

Sample question from young woman in audience: "Have you ever taken acting lessons?" Carol: "Yes, I have." Audience member: "Do you think it did any good?"

The show was rehearsed for three to four hours each day until the Friday tapings, when two recordings were made. As there were only two recordings, if an actor flubbed a line in both takes, the error appeared in the broadcast, giving the show some immediacy. Pick ups were exceptions, and usually only used for musical numbers.

Through this program, Burnett became known for her acting and talent, and for ending each show by tugging her ear, which was a message to her grandmother who had raised her, letting her know that she was doing well and that she loved her.

A true variety show in its simplest of forms, The Carol Burnett Show struck a harmonious chord with viewers through parodies of films ("Went With the Wind"), television ("As the Stomach Turns") and TV commercials. Burnett and team struck gold with the original skit "The Family" which eventually spun off into a television show, "Mama's Family", starring Lawrence.

The show also became known for its closing theme song, with the following lyrics:

I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh or sing a song
Seems we just got started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.'[3]


  • Carol Burnett
  • Vicki Lawrence
  • Harvey Korman (seasons 1-10)
  • Lyle Waggoner (seasons 1-7)
  • Tim Conway (seasons 8-11)
  • Dick Van Dyke (first half of season 11)

Vicki Lawrence was the only cast member, other than Burnett, to remain with the series for its entire run. Tim Conway, though well remembered for his appearances on the show, did not become a full-time cast member until 1975. (Previously, he was a frequent guest, appearing as often as once a month.) Harvey Korman left the show prior to its final season; he was temporarily replaced in the fall of 1977 by Dick Van Dyke. Original cast member Lyle Waggoner left the series in 1974 to pursue a dramatic acting career and the next year was cast in Wonder Woman.

Burnett went on to star in movies, write a Broadway play, and continues to make appearances. Conway and Korman traveled to do comedy routines together all over the country. Vicki Lawrence had a U.S. #1 hit record in 1973 ("The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia") and went on to star in several shows of her own (Mama's Family, the NBC daytime edition of Win, Lose or Draw, and her short-lived talk show, Vicki) and continues to perform around America writing and performing comedy sketches.

Continuations and revivals

The comedy sketches of the show were reedited into freestanding programs; the resulting show enjoyed success for many years in syndicated reruns (as Carol Burnett and Friends). In the early 2000s, certain full-length episodes of The Carol Burnett Show were released on VHS and DVD by Columbia House on a subscription basis (now discontinued). Guthy-Renker released another DVD collection, The Carol Burnett Show Collector's Edition, which is still being sold to this day.

Following repeats of The Carol Burnett Show on CBS from June to August 1978, 4 new shows were aired between August and September 1979 on ABC as Carol Burnett & Company, just prior to the beginning of the regular fall season and plans were announced for this to become an annual event but it did not. NBC aired a comedy half-hour repertory series called Carol & Company between March 1990 and July 1991 with regulars Peter Krause, Jeremy Piven, Terry Kiser, Meagan Fay, Anita Barone, and Richard Kind (and occasional guest stars such as Betty White and Burt Reynolds; each week's show was a different half-hour comedy play.

CBS brought back The Carol Burnett Show for another run in the fall of 1991; new regulars included Meagen Fay and Richard Kind (brought over from the NBC show), and Chris Barnes, Roger Kabler and Jessica Lundy. Only nine episodes of this revival were aired.

Over the years, the cast of The Carol Burnett Show were reunited on three CBS TV specials:

  • The Carol Burnett Show: A Reunion (January 10, 1993) featured several clips of the show's best moments from 1967-1978 with the gang reminiscing about their time together on the show.
  • The Carol Burnett Show: Show Stoppers (November 26, 2001) consisted mostly of bloopers and outtakes from the series. The program was a major ratings success; the media credited its timing, being broadcast not long after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with contributing to its success.
  • The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump Up the Lights! (May 12, 2004) featured one of Carol's favorite ongoing bits, turning up the house lights and then taking questions from members of the studio audience.

Guest stars

Season 1 (1967–1968)

Season 2 (1968–1969)

Season 3 (1969–1970)

Season 4 (1970–1971)

Season 5 (1971–1972)

Season 6 (1972–1973)

Season 7 (1973–1974)

Season 8 (1974–1975)

Season 9 (1975–1976)

Season 10 (1976–1977)

Season 11 (1977–1978)


  1. ^ "The Carol Burnett Show (sitcom)". The Media Management Group. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  2. ^ Poniewozik, James (2007). "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time.,28804,1651341_1659192_1652529,00.html. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ Retrieved on 05-14-07

Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows

External links

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