Later this month, Carol Burnett will celebrate her 90th birthday with an NBC special.
Everyone from Cher and Ellen DeGeneres to Steve Carell and Katy Perry stepped out for two hours of pre-recorded film. Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love activity. Ahead of the big day on April 26, some of Burnett’s friends and co-stars shared their best wishes and a few of the lessons the six Emmy-winning actors taught them at this week’s PEOPLE.
Burnett’s longtime friend, Julie Andrews, calls her friend of 60 years “my dear friend.”
“From day one, we both seem to know and understand where each of us is coming from,” she says. Mary Poppins Burnett’s godmother is the star who named her daughter Emma. “It’s great working together, loyal and kind, and that hasn’t changed at all. To be honest, we can’t say we talk every day.”
His respect for his dear friend is deep. “She overcame a very difficult childhood by finding her talent for laughter and used this extraordinary talent for comedy to redeem herself and make us all so much happier,” says Andrews, 87. “90 years later he gave us so much. And he’s a survivor. He has a sense of humanity and the laughter he evokes in us is based on realizing some truth. From life. From everyone’s weirdness. Sometimes the characters he plays aren’t all that loving but he makes them very real. I think that’s it. It’s humor that’s brave. It’s extremely brave.”
buzz star Julia Louis-Dreyfus shared a few comedy lessons from Burnett.
“There are three things Carol Burnett taught me about comedy: 1.) Comedy is not only funny, it’s also entertaining,” says Louis-Dreyfus, 62. “Seeing Carol Burnett with her friends (it looked like they’re all friends) was contagious. I wanted to jump off the screen and be a part of the fun. 2.) Comedy is a team sport. The way they play each other, the way they like each other, the way Carol has fun all? You’re watching? I’ve never seen anything like this before. 3.) Comedy is hard. Singing! Dancing! Having funny accents! Not going crazy (well, they weren’t that good at that part). Carol Burnett could do it all, and I realized it takes practice. It takes work. Thanks to Carol Burnett, I took it all seriously. Fun, team and work. Wow, what a great way to make a living.”
This Friends remembers watching smack The Carol Burnett Show As a child. “I used to watch it with my dad and we would laugh hysterically,” says 59-year-old Lisa Kudrow. “She was a woman who had her own show and she was hilarious. Then you see the mistakes and you say, ‘Oh,’ they has they have a lot of fun and love what they do.’ And I wondered if it felt like work.”
Burnett’s 1972 film Pete ‘n’ Tillie Kudrow was another reminder that the star is a “really good actress.”
“It was a huge inspiration for me,” he adds. “He’s funny. He can act, too. Even if he’s doing dramas, you get the same feeling from him. I loved it too.” Four season where it is effortlessly wonderful and human. You believe every word that comes out of your mouth. It doesn’t give a sense of performance. This is great acting for me. It just feels like you’re living inside someone else.”
“Funny at this level to do the sketches and have your own show, it really gave me a North Star,” says Kudrow. “He has a lot of heart and integrity.”
“I loved growing up The Carol Burnett Show,” says Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler, 51. “Carol was a helpful captain. The crew has always had a great sense of play, and most importantly, I saw an extremely talented and funny woman at the helm. I love Carol in everything she does: great, grounded acting. Four seasondeep camp AnnieMiss Hannigan. Carol can’t go wrong.”
“There are a few people in the industry that really make you question whether you’re still alive because they seem to pop right out of your memory, your childhood universe,” he says. Better Call SaulFrom Bob Odenkirk. “Like [Abraham] Lincoln is jumping on a penny to talk to you. Carol is. It is a national treasure. And it’s a personal treasure for me.”
“She’s a cool 22-year-old who just got her first job, she’s as playful, ready and smart as any cool girl,” adds 60-year-old Odenkirk. more than his achievements and greatness. He’s so fun. It’s great to see that he’s fully aware of everything he’s accomplished and how important he is to people. She’s extremely happy about it, but she doesn’t just live in that amber. … He’s ready for today’s game, this stage, and the acting we’re doing.”
Odenkirk thinks Burnett deserves an Emmy for his latest work. Better Call Saul.
“People are always surprised when comedian actors can do drama, and boy, did that tie the performance to intense reality,” he continues. “Great. She’s a lost character in her own little world, and it’s terrible that Saul is taking advantage of her and using her in this way. I’m grateful she finally gave up on her plans at the last moment.” seeming lethal. It’s totally real. He made this character as real as you’ve never seen anyone play before. So you don’t think it’s Carol Burnett, but then just when you’re about to pretend it is, kill her, for a moment, you think, I can’t kill Carol Burnett.”
Burnett got Vicki Lawrence to start The Carol Burnett Show when he was in his late youth.
“He acts like a clown and does stupid things, but there’s a very smart lady out there who really knows her show business,” says Lawrence, 74. “He was my teacher. I learned from the best in the world. business.”
He also remembers the unique warmth that the audience felt towards him.
In the early days of the show, he would often take guest stars like Burnett, Rita Hayworth, and Jimmy Stewart out to dinner at Chasen’s. “I used to watch artists go in and out,” Lawrence recalls. “There was always a crowd there. They always shouted ‘Hello Carol’. For the others, ‘Hello Miss Hayworth. Hello, Mr. Stewart.” I asked him why and he said, “Oh honey, they’re watching us on their toes. They lie in bed and we are in the same bed as them. “We’re in bed with them,” he said. To know We.’ And he was very good at sending that love through the camera lens.”
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Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love It will air on NBC on April 26 at 8 PM ET and air the next day on Peacock.