Carol Creighton Burnett is an American actress, comedienne, singer, dancer and writer. Burnett started her career in New York. After becoming a hit on Broadway, she debuted on television. After successful appearances on The Garry Moore Show, Carol moved to Los Angeles and began an eleven-year run on The Carol Burnett Show which was aired on CBS television from 1967 to 1978. With roots in vaudeville, The Carol Burnett Show was a variety show combining comedy sketches, song, and dance. The comedy sketches ranged from film parodies to character pieces which featured the many talents of Burnett herself who created and played several well-known and distinctive characters.
Burnett was born in San Antonio, Texas, the daughter of Ina Louise, a publicity writer for movie studios, and Joseph Thomas Burnett, a movie theater manager. Both of her parents, particularly her father, suffered from alcoholism, and at a young age she was left with her grandmother, Mabel Eudora White. Her parents divorced in the late 1930s, and Burnett and her grandmother moved to an apartment near her mother?s in an impoverished area of Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. There, they stayed in a boarding house with her younger half-sister Chrissy.
When Burnett was in the fourth grade she created for a short time an imaginary twin sister named Karen, with Shirley Temple-like dimples. Motivated to further the pretense Burnett recalled fondly that she “fooled the other boarders in the rooming house where we lived by frantically switching clothes and dashing in and out of the house by the fire escape and the front door. Then I became exhausted and Karen mysteriously vanished.”
For a while, she worked as an usherette at what is now the Hollywood Pacific Theatre. After graduating from Hollywood High School in 1951, Burnett won a scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles where she initially planned on studying journalism. During her first year of college, Burnett switched her focus to theater arts and English, with the goal of becoming a playwright. She found she had to take an acting course to enter the playwright program; “I wasn’t really ready to do the acting thing, but I had no choice.” She followed a sudden impulse in her first performance; “Don’t ask me why, but when we were in front of the audience, I suddenly decided I was going to stretch out all my words and my first line came out ‘I’m baaaaaaaack!'” The audience response moved her deeply: