Carol Burnett (born April 26, 1933) was one of the most successful female comedians on American television, thanks largely to her variety show that ran on CBS from 1967 through 1978.
Burnett was born in San Antonio, Texas to two alcoholic parents, who left her with her grandmother, who moved to Hollywood, California. She graduated from Hollywood High School and the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked her way up through bit parts on TV, coming to prominence in the mid-1950s singing a novelty love song, "I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles". She achieved success in Broadway in the 1959 musical Once Upon a Mattress. In the same year she appeared on the Garry Moore television variety show as a regular until 1962. With her success on this variety show she finally came to headliner status and appeared in the 1962 special Julie and Carol and Carnegie Hall, also starring fellow singer/actress Julie Andrews.
The hour-long The Carol Burnett Show was a huge success, garnering 22 Emmy awards and continuing to success in syndicated re-runs. Its ensemble cast included Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, and Vicki Lawrence, who was cast partly because she looked like a younger Burnett.
Burnett drew attention in 1981, when she sued the National Enquirer for libel after the tabloid newspaper described her alleged public drunkenness. The case is a landmark in the study of libel cases involving celebrities, although the unprecedented $1.6 million verdict was reduced on appeal, and the case was eventually settled out of court.
Burnett was a recipient of Kennedy Center Honors for 2003.