When I was a kid, I wanted Carol Burnett to adopt me.
It's not that I was an orphan; I had two parents, a nice house and a dog. But I grew up in New Jersey, in the 70's, in a house where yelling was the main form of communication. My dad yelled–a lot –at my mom, my brother, the dog, but mostly at me. So when my parents went out every Saturday night (whether or not they were actually speaking to each other), I found refuge with Carol Burnett. Without fail, I would be bathed, night-gowned and ready, sitting cross-legged in front of the TV in our family room promptly at 8pm. My entire focus was only on the world I saw before me, the one so much different from my own.
I so desperately wanted to live in that world. Carol was the perfect role model: a woman who looked like a real person, like your sixth grade teacher, but could transform herself instantly with a Bob Mackie dress into someone glamorous. It gave me hope that someday I could be like that, too. Aside from my own mother, Carol was the only adult who had ever made me laugh. I remember laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. She could also sing, so well it would move me to tears. She just seemed so…nice. I came to believe, at the ripe young age of 7, that if I lived with Carol Burnett, I would have the best life ever. I imagined living in a big house with the whole cast. I mean, after all, I thought she was really married to Lyle Waggoner, and that Tim Conway and Harvey Korman also lived in the house, sharing a room like on “The Odd Couple”. Vicki Lawrence got to have her own room. They just laughed all day and I wanted to be a part of it.
Then I learned that Carol Burnett and I share a birth date—April 26th—and I thought this was a cosmic message telling me that we were somehow connected. Despite the fact that she was married and had daughters of her own, I firmly believed that should Carol Burnett and I ever cross paths, she would just love me as much as I loved her. She could be my “Aunt Carol”. She just projects that warmth, that openness, whenever I see her.
As I grew up, the fantasies of being Carol Burnett's adopted daughter faded, but I always managed to keep her in my life somehow. I saw every movie and TV appearance she made. I have a special place in my heart for “The Four Seasons”- I mean, couldn't you see her really being married to Alan Alda? Carol did an HBO movie in the early 80s with Elizabeth Taylor called “Between Friends” that I adore. My girl crush on her has never really abated. Mention her name to anyone and the response is usually the same: “Oh my God, I LOVE Carol Burnett!” It’s as though she’s everyone’s ideal mother and friend.
Carol Burnett brings her one-woman show to the Schnitz on September 29th (at 7:30pm, tickets $59.75 – $98.50). It's an extraordinarily rare opportunity to spend an evening with one of the most beloved women on television (her “Gone With the Wind” parody was recently named one of the top moments in TV history). She’s going to be taking questions from the audience. I am currently racking my brains to come up with something appropriate to say, should I be called upon.
Because even though I’m now 40 and a parent myself, I still kind of want Carol Burnett to be my mommy.
For more information on Carol Burnett in Portland:
- Laughter & Reflection with Carol Burnett at PCPA
- Carol Burnett Wikipedia
- Museum of Broadacsting on Carol Burnett
Tara Dublin is a freelance writer living in the Portland metro area. She blogs regularly at her website, www.taradublinonline.com