Episodes: 278 (hour)
TV show dates: September 11, 1967 – March 29, 1978
Series status: Cancelled/ended
Performers include: Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, Dick Van Dyke, and Tim Conway.
TV show description:
This classic sketch comedy show stars comedienne Carol Burnett and her comedic troupe of Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, and later, Lyle Waggoner. When Korman leaves the series in the show’s final season, he’s replaced by Dick Van Dyke.
Each live-to-tape show begins with a question and answer session between the studio audience and Burnett. During the show’s sketches, castmembers sometimes flub lines and break into fits of uncontrollable laughter — mishaps that are often aired as part of the show and that endear the cast to the audience.
Sketches that prove particularly popular are featured regularly like “As the Stomach Turns,” a parody on American soap operas; “The Family” which inspired the spin-off sitcom “Mama’s Family;” “Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins,” about a mumbly businessman and his inept secretary, Burnett’s “Charwoman” character, and parodies of kitchen commercials and Hollywood films such as “From Here to Maternity,” “Sunneyset Boulevard,” and one of the most famous, “Went with the Wind.”
Celebrity guests stars frequently appear on the show and include stars like Liza Minnelli, Lucille Ball, Sonny & Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammie Davis, Jr. and even then-governor of California, Ronald Regan.
Episode 278 — A Special Evening With Carol Burnett
This two-hour special features highlights from the past 11 seasons as well as a final Family sketch and a Mrs. Wiggins/Mr. Tudball sketch (though the characters would end up being reprised years later). Eunice finally goes to see a therapist and Mr. Tudball moves the office and doesn’t tell Mrs. Wiggins where.
As a special surprise for Carol, Jimmy Stewart appears and plays a funny song on the piano. She breaks down and tries to express how much she admires and loves him. He says that he’s there, on behalf of the millions of home viewers, to thank her for all of the joy that her show has given them.
In the final moments of the show, Carol, as the charwoman, sits backstage and watches the credits of the final episode on a small TV. She turns off the set and waves goodbye to the show’s staff and some of the cast as they silently walk by. Harvey Korman, who was appearing as a guest, stops and gives her a kiss.
Vicki Lawrence comes out of a stage door, signs Carol’s autograph book, kisses and hugs her and then leaves. Tim Conway comes down some stairs and does the same. Carol turns over a card with her show’s logo on it to a “Closed” sign. She walks down center stage and sits on a small bucket in a spotlight. She talks about how hard it is to leave and why she decided to end the show despite a 12th season renewal. She says it felt like the time to move on to do other things while the show was still doing well. Carol talks about each member of her cast and how much she loves and respects them.
Finally, she thanks the audience and sings a soulful rendition of the show’s theme-song while trying to hold back tears. She blows a kiss to the audience and says goodnight. She gets up and quietly walks away, to the back of the huge stage, as the studio audience rises to their feet in applause.
She kisses the head of a sleeping security guard and goes out the huge stage door. The camera fades to a shot of the bucket and mop sitting on the floor and then fades to black.
First aired: March 29, 1978.
What happened next?
The cast has reunited a couple times for specials and have reprised some of their characters. The “Family” sketches led to a Eunice special and the spin-off Mama’s Family that revolves around Lawrence’s Mama character.
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