Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Carol Burnett

I admired Lucy because, despite her truly beautiful looks and being a woman she managed to also be a comedian. It wasn’t easy because in Hollywood all the top comics were men, so Lucy usually played the second banana to guys like Bob Hope or Red Skelton and she never got as much to do as they did. But she could toss the lines back with the best of them. The funny thing is, Lucy never really became a big movie star. The studios just didn’t know what to do with her, but she never showed any bitterness. Instead she considered Hollywood a great learning experience. I met Lucy when she came to see me in the Broadway musical ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ back in May of 1959. There was this big buzz backstage and I made the mistake of peeking through the curtains and there I saw her. Lucy, in the second row, the red hair all lit up and I don’t know how I got through the show. There was the queen, sitting there, the empress of comedy, in the front row watching me. A few years later I called Lucy and she said “What’s up, kid?” She always called me “kid” and I said “Well, Lucy, I’m doing this special for CBS and I wondered…” and she said “when do you want me?” She didn’t even let me finish the sentence. That was the first time we did a show together and we had the best time doing it. I learned from that show that Lucy wasn’t one of those comediennes who had to be the center of attention. I also learned that when the cameras weren’t rolling Lucy was all business. She would say what she liked and you’d know she meant it and then she would say what she didn’t like and you’d know it wasn’t personal. Nobody ever worked harder than she did. Over the years, Lucy and I were very close. We talked on the phone, she always sent flowers on my Birthday and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, because I miss her.

- Carol Burnett

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