Best known for her eponymous variety show, Carol Burnett is one of America’s most popular old-school entertainers. But like many showbiz veterans, she’s faced her fair share of hardship over the course of her long-running career. Here’s a look at why the multi-talented star took a break from the spotlight and why she’s now returning to it.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1933, Burnett was raised by her grandmother in a Hollywood boarding house. She initially dreamed of becoming a playwright, but while studying English and theatre arts at UCLA, she got the performing bug. She later moved to New York to pursue an acting career and gained her first notable role in 1955 on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show.
A year later she was cast alongside Buddy Hackett in Stanley, a sitcom that lasted just a single season. After it had been canceled, Burnett switched her focus to the stage. She became a popular draw on the cabaret circuit and in 1960 received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the musical Once Upon A Mattress.