Carol Burnett confessed that she ‘can’t wrap her head around’ the fact she will celebrate her 90th birthday this month.
The comedy icon starred on the cover of this week’s People and told the magazine: ‘I still feel like I’m about 11, but I’m amazed. It sure went fast.’
She quipped: ‘But I’m glad because I’ve got all my parts – got my hips, I got my knees and I’ve got my brain, so I’m happy about that.’
On her birthday, April 26, NBC will air a pre-taped star-studded retrospective in her honor called Carol Burnett: 90 Years Of Laughter + Love.
In her new interview Carol, who has been a star since her Broadway debut in 1959, looked back at the origins of her career.
Icon: Carol Burnett, pictured on The Carol Burnett Show with Lyle Wagonner, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway, is turning 90 this month
‘It sure went fast’: The comedy icon starred on the cover of this week’s People and told the magazine: ‘I still feel like I’m about 11, but I’m amazed’
Bright side: She quipped: ‘But I’m glad because I’ve got all my parts – got my hips, I got my knees and I’ve got my brain, so I’m happy about that’
Born in San Antonio, she grew up in Los Angeles where she ‘used to pretend to be on a radio show’ and imitate an announcer.
I would yell out the window: “Now ladies and gentlemen, we have a young girl who is going to sing here without any musical accompaniment,”‘ she recalled.
‘One time, a man next door said: “Will you turn that goddamn thing off?” And I thought: “I’m a hit. They think it’s real.”‘
In contrast to ‘so many performers who started when they were 3 and 4 and 5 years old,’ she only discovered her knack in college, making her a ‘late bloomer.’
Carol recalled: ”I was pretty much of a quiet student all through grammar school, junior high and Hollywood High. I would kid around with my friends, the neighborhood kids, stuff like that. But I never really thought about it until I got to UCLA and I was in an acting class,’ she admitted.
‘A lot of the kids at the class were doing heavy, dramatic stuff and I thought, I can’t do that. So I picked something light and they laughed. That’s when the bug bit.’
Over the course of her long and illustrious career, her most celebrated gig was her 11 years as the star of the pioneering sketch program The Carol Burnett Show.
However when she first began to make her bones in the entertainment industry, TV was not initially particularly receptive.
Legends: On her birthday, NBC will air a star-studded retrospective in her honor called Carol Burnett: 90 Years Of Laughter + Love; Carol is pictured at its taping with Julie Andrews
Throwback: Julie and Carol’s longtime personal and professional bond, which included a TV special in 1989 (pictured), will be highlighted in the new special
‘It was some local television show in New York and I got up and I belted out a song and the emcee that I was auditioning for said: “You’re too loud for television.” I disagreed,’ said the titan of stage and screen.
Eventually she found her way to fame onstage, landing her star-making role in the 1959 Broadway musical Once Upon A Mattress.
Based on The Princess And The Pea, the show featured music by Mary Rodgers – daughter of The Sound Of Music composer Richard Rodgers – and catapulted Carol to prominence in show business.
From her beloved run on The Carol Burnett Show to her scene-stealing turns in such movies as Annie, she established herself as a superstar and then a national treasure.
She hopes to be remembered by the fact that ‘I made people laugh, made them feel good when they might have been down. In my fan mail, many say it was the only time the family would get together, to watch and laugh. And that sometimes they were lonesome and were cheered up by our show. That’s a good feeling.’
Carol Burnett: 90 Years Of Laughter + Love will include a glittering array of celebs ranging from Amy Adams to Ellen DeGeneres to Bill Hader.
Some of the comic actresses who have succeeded Carol as TV stars will also be out in force, including Lisa Kudrow, Sofia Vergara and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Cher and Lily Tomlin, who both appeared on The Carol Burnett Show, and Aileen Quinn, who played the title role in Annie, are also part of the retrospective.
Origin story: Initially she found her way to fame onstage, landing her star-making role in the 1959 Broadway musical Once Upon A Mattress (pictured)
Throwback: From her run on The Carol Burnett Show to her scene-stealing turns in such movies as Annie (pictured), she established herself as a superstar and then a national treasure
Some of the names who succeeded Carol in TV sketch comedy are also included, such as Saturday Night Live alumnae Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler.
The taping for the special occurred a month ago, preceded by a red carpet where Carol basked in the adoration of her fellow stars and cozied up to her pal Julie Andrews, whom she has been friends with for over half a century.
Julie and Carol’s longtime personal and professional bond, which included a 1962 Carnegie Hall concert that was taped for TV, will be highlighted in the new special.
One of the musical performances at Thursday’s taping will be Stephen Sondheim’s song Old Friends from the 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along.
Musical performers galore will lend their talents to the proceedings, from pop act Katy Perry to Broadway legend Bernadette Peters to POSE’s Billy Porter.
While the upcoming NBC special will of course cover the peak of her career during her 11 seasons fronting The Carol Burnett Show, it will also highlight some of her less well-remembered projects such as the movie Pete ‘N’ Tillie.
The ceremony will feature such showbiz luminaries as Marisa Tomei, Steve Carrell, Laura Dern, Taraji P. Henson, Allison Janney and Bill Hader.
The musical performances will reportedly include a rendition of I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together, which was the theme song of The Carol Burnett Show throughout its 11 years on the air.