American Masters: Season 21, Episode 9

Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character (5 Nov. 2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
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Comedienne Carol Burnett's early show business aspirations were to perform in live theater on Broadway, craving the instant gratification from a live audience. Her sensibilities were shaped... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Kenny Solms ...
Dick Deneut ...
Mitzie Welch ...
Ken Welch ...
Pat Lillie-Whelan ...
Garry Moore ...
Himself (archive footage)
Don Crichton ...


Comedienne Carol Burnett's early show business aspirations were to perform in live theater on Broadway, craving the instant gratification from a live audience. Her sensibilities were shaped by going to "happy" movies in the 1940s and 1950s, the story lines for which made it seem like anything was possible. These movie going experiences were in part a mechanism to escape her difficult home life, which was nonetheless loving. Based on her early work, professionals around her saw her comedic talents and steered her in the direction of stand-up and sketch comedy. Her life in sketch comedy on television, both on The Garry Moore Show (1958) and her own show, The Carol Burnett Show (1967) was one of fun and play acting, which translated to what the audience saw. Her own show was pioneering as she was the first woman to host her own sketch comedy show. Unlike most sketch players, she relished in the interaction with her audience as seen through the Q&A's on her show. One thing she was ... Written by Huggo

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Release Date:

5 November 2007 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


References Dumbo (1941) See more »


If You Feel Like Singing, Sing
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Carol Burnett and Eydie Gormé
See more »

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User Reviews

Quite enjoyable, though sad at the same time.
28 May 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This episode of "American Masters" seems to prove the old saying that comedians are people who have learned to laugh in order to deal with all their pain. In the case of Carol Burnett, America loved her comedy--yet she grew up with alcoholic parents, had several marriages and had a very tragic death of a daughter. This show is able to show both sides of her--the pain but especially all the folks who know and love her. It was quite a contrast seeing this episode right after I saw the show they did about Johnny Carson--a man who, sadly, was a loner and not particularly likable. Burnett, on the other hand, was interesting because no one had anything bad to say about her. So, if you are a fan, this show will no doubt make you happy and reveal a tough but likable lady. Well worth seeing and very well made throughout--with countless interviews, TV and film clips and narration--a very enjoyable 84 minutes.

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