The Carol Burnett Show was the first network variety show led by a woman, and it ran for 11 years, from 1967 to 1978. The cast had perfect chemistry, the writers were top grade, and the material plus ad-libs often caused the cast to lose their composure. We laughed along at home, too. Let’s learn a few things that went on behind-the-scenes.
9. TIM CONWAY RARELY FOLLOWED HIS SCRIPT.
Conway had been a frequent guest star on the show and when Lyle Waggoner decided to leave the show in 1974 (he felt that he was being “underused”), Conway was hired to replace him the following year. Conway was legendary for veering off-script and ad-libbing for lengthy stretches, to the amusement of some of his co-stars (Korman) and annoyance of others (Lawrence, who sometimes resented Conway’s disruptions and spotlight-hogging). Lawrence finally slipped her own ad-lib in on one memorable occasion, as Conway rambled on and on about an elephant during a “Family” sketch. Her NSFW remark brought the rest of the cast to their knees and was said to be Dick Clark’s favorite all-time outtake on his Bloopers and Practical Jokes TV show.
14. BURNETT’S “WENT WITH THE WIND” CURTAIN ROD DRESS WAS BOB MACKIE’S BRAINSTORM.
Burnett’s Gone with the Wind parody has made many “funniest shows of all time” lists over the years, and one of the defining moments of the sketch was when Carol (as "Starlett O’Hara”) descends the stairs at Tara wearing the green velvet drapes with the curtain rod still in them and admits, “I saw it in a window and I couldn’t resist.” The original script called for Burnett to have the curtains tossed haphazardly over her shoulders, but Mackie decided that it would be funnier to create an actual dress and leave the hanger intact across her shoulders. He is slightly bitter all these years later that of all his magnificent creations, that “joke” dress has become his signature piece; of all the memorable glamorous gowns he’s created for celebrities over the decades, that curtain rod dress is the one that hangs in the Smithsonian.
Other tidbits tell us how Burnett herself got into show business, and how she assembled the cast of characters we’ll never forget for The Carol Burnett Show. Read the rest of the list at mental_floss.