Friday, June 10, 2011
This Time Together by Carol Burnett
I grew up watching The Carol Burnett Show, with Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway, and anytime I can catch a rerun or highlight shtick somewhere, I'm on it. This book reminds me a lot of the style of her show, mostly funny, lighthearted and sometimes even silly. Carol mentions at the end of her book that her story could never have happened if she were starting out today, the networks are far to risk-averse to ever place their bets on an inexperienced female leading a variety show - in fact, there will probably never be another variety show like the "good old days" ever again.
Most of the stories in the book are about her guests and friends, most of whom appeared on the show at one time or another. She used to start every season with a guest appearance by Jim Nabors, a good personal friend whom she and her family often visited in Hawaii. Carey Grant was so impressed by the comedy of the Korman/Conway duo that he invited them out with his wife and himself to the racetrack on several occasions, until they became so exhausted trying to think up new material to spring on him that they finally began avoiding him.
Burnett became good friends with Lucille Ball, who taught her a lot about being a woman in charge of her own show. She and Julie Andrews were great pals, and shared a love for practical jokes, one of which backfired when it got played on Lady Bird Johnson instead of its intended victim. She spent a lot of time with Beverly Sills, who had been through some horrible personal tragedies when her son was born severely disabled and her daughter born deaf, but who "chose to be cheerful", a quality that I'm sure stood Burnett in good stead later on when her daughter, Carrie, died.
There are a few poignant or sad moments in this biography, but more often than not, it's a heck of a lot of fun - just like her show. This was probably one of the easiest bios to read I've ever seen. Give it a shot. If you're a child of the seventies, it'll bring back a ton of good memories for you, too.