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Trivia / The Carol Burnett Show

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  • Acting for Two: Many sketches would have Carol playing twins, usually to spoof films in which actresses like Bette Davis did the same. Examples include "A Swiped Life" and "Cobumble".
    • One question period had Carol tell a childhood anecdote in which she actually pretended to be a set of twins, complete with changing of clothes, etc.
  • Approval of God: Initially, viewers did not find the "Norma Desmond" sketches very funny, and felt they were an insult to actress Gloria Swanson (whom the sketches were a parody of). Gloria Swanson though appeared in one episode explaining that she thought they were hilarious.
  • Blooper: Of course a compilation of them was released.
    • Though many ended up in the final broadcasts.note 
  • Edited for Syndication: The intros with the audience and non-musical sketches were edited into the half hour 1978 show Carol Burnett and Friends.
  • Enforced Method Acting: According to Carol, the reason behind Ms. Wiggins's trademark walk was due to the fact that the skirt she was given was too large and walking that way was the only way to keep it from falling off.
  • Follow the Leader: When CBS aired the reunion special, it proved to be a stunning ratings success. CBS and other networks promptly went out of their way to produce show retrospectives to cash in.
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  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Tim Conway either added his own embellishments or went completely off script during his appearances, sending sketches off the rails and causing the cast to break character to the delight of the audience.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The first five seasons of the series (1967-1972) are co-owned with Bob Banner, preventing them from subsequent syndication and home video releases. With Banner's death in 2011, the outcome of this looked uncertain, until Carol Burnett and Time/Life announced a 2015 DVD release of select episodes from those seasons.
    • The bulk of the musical numbers have not been seen since the original network airings due to licensing issues. Eventually, a DVD collector's edition of the show which includes the musical numbers was released by mail order offering only 2 episodes per $19.95 disc, the extra money going for the licensing.
    • In 2019, edited 30-minute versions of the early episodes started running on Me TV.
  • Post-Script Season: Carol Burnett & Company, a four-episode miniseries that aired on ABC during the summer of 1979. The show featured Carol, Vicki Lawrence, and Tim Conway back as regulars, with Craig Richard Nelson and Kenneth Mars replacing the still-unavailable Harvey Korman.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • To put it simply, anybody with a pulse from 1967 to 1978 will have guest-starred on the show.
    • Hell, even some of the audience members were (and are) recognizable. Modern viewers will likely find Hannibal Lecter being in the audience rather hilarious.
    • "A Special Evening with Carol Burnett": Eunice's psychiatrist will be familiar to Golden Girls fans as the pyromaniac in the episode "'Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas".
      • The actor, Craig Richard Nelson, also starred with Burnett in A Wedding, The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank (both 1978), and the 1979 summer series Carol Burnett and Company.
    • Gail Parent was a writer for 133 episodes. Parent is best known for co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
    • Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon were writers for 120 episodes. Both are best known for creating Mama's Family and The Facts of Life.
    • Woody Kling was a writer for 73 episodes. Kling is best known for creating Rainbow Brite.
    • Tom Patchett was a writer for 25 episodes. Patchett is best known as co-creator and executive producer of ALF.
    • James R. Stein was a writer for 24 episodes. Stein is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Son of the Beach.
    • Bob Schiller was a writer for ten episodes. Schiller is best known for co-developing The Lucy Show.
    • Bob Weiskopf also was a writer for ten episodes. Weiskopf also co-developed The Lucy Show.
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting: Vicki Lawrence was hired because she looked like a younger Burnett, which made her perfect for the "Carol and Sis" sketches.
  • Throw It In!: The show would only do two takes a sketch, meaning even flubbed lines would get thrown in the broadcast.
    • Word of God says Miss Wiggins' nail biting was Carol's way of not breaking up at Tim's Mr. Tudball.
  • Un-person: Sort of. The fact that Dick Van Dyke was an actual cast member during the last years (replacing Harvey Korman) is rarely brought up in documentaries or behind the scenes specials, and said episodes rarely air in syndication. Mainly because many people felt those episodes weren't very good, and that Van Dyke had no real chemistry with Carol, Tim, or Vicky. Even Van Dyke himself looks back at his time on the show with regret and embarrassment. On the other hand, Van Dyke does remain good friends with Burnett.
  • What Could Have Been: In interviews, Tim Conway said that in the 80s he was offered a chance to star in a Mr. Tudball spin-off. He declined because he didn't see much potential for storylines, plus the fact that Carol would not be playing Miss Wiggins.
  • Write What You Know: "The Dentist Sketch" was inspired by Tim Conway's experience with an army dentist who, while trying to inject Novocaine into Conway's jaw, stabbed a hypodermic needle straight through Conway's cheek and didn't notice that the medication was being sprayed onto the floor. When the dentist was finally told what happened, he tried to go ahead with the procedure anyway! Unlike poor Harvey Korman, however, Conway managed to escape.

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