American Masters (1985– )
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Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character 

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 »


Kyra Thompson


Kyra Thompson


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Carol Burnett ... Herself
Betty White ... Herself
Kenny Solms Kenny Solms ... Himself
Tim Conway ... Himself
Richard DeNeut Richard DeNeut ... Himself (as Dick Deneut)
Florence Henderson ... Herself
Mitzie Welch Mitzie Welch ... Herself
Ken Welch ... Himself
Pat Lillie-Whelan Pat Lillie-Whelan ... Herself
Phyllis Diller ... Herself
Garry Moore Garry Moore ... Himself (archive footage)
Don Crichton Don Crichton ... Himself
Bob Mackie ... Himself
Carl Reiner ... Himself
Lyle Waggoner ... Himself


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) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Features Friendly Fire (1979) See more »


You're So London
Music by Ken Welch
Lyrics by Mike Nichols
Performed by Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews
See more »

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User Reviews

Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character is another great episode of "American Masters"
28 November 2007 | by tavmSee all my reviews

A few weeks ago, I watched this wonderful documentary about the life and career of one the most talented comediennes ever: Carol Burnett. From her early life growing up with her grandma watching various movies to her early live performances on "The Garry Moore Show" and Broadway to her defining moments on her 11-year classic run of her own variety program "The Carol Burnett Show", Ms. Burnett shows us how consistently entertaining she has been over four decades. We also see clips of "Once Upon a Mattress" her breakthrough Broadway triumph as first taped in black-and-white by CBS in the early '60s. Among the interviewees besides Carol are, of course, many of her show's regulars: Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, Vicki Lawrence, and Tim Conway. Also interviewed: costume designer Bob Mackie, Tracy Ullman-who played Carol's role in the recent version of "Once Upon a Mattress" with Ms. Burnett playing the mean queen, Richard Kind-who appeared on a couple of failed attempts at reviving Carol's variety show, Garry Shandling-who had Burnett as a guest on "The Larry Sanders Show", old friend Florence Henderson, Carl Reiner-a frequent guest on Carol's show, and many others I can't remember right now. One of the most valuable of clips here is one from "The Garry Moore Show" when Ms. Burnett first did a fall on live television: It was Neil Simon sketch with Carol as Jill who follows Jack after he falls out of a hospital window. After Carol did her fall on a mattress, she revealed to us she gasped a sign of relief which revealed to everyone within earshot she had never done this thing before contrary to what she told the producers. We then see her take several falls afterward in quick clips which shows how expert she became on this sort of thing. Also shown are clips of her movies like Pete 'n' Tillie and Annie. For Carol fans, I highly recommended this to them as well as anyone curious about this great lady's versatility and attitude as well as entertainment ability!

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