At the end of every episode, Carol Burnett would sign off with a tug of her ear. This simple gesture eventually became the comedian’s signature move that millions of people across the nation instantly recognized. However, her ear tug was intended for just one special person.
Carol would tug at her left earlobe to silently communicate with her beloved grandmother, aka Nanny. Nanny provided Carol with a safe space from the tumultuous home life with her parents. The ear tug was Carol’s way of saying, “Hi, Nanny. I’m fine. I love you.” Carol continued to do her signature sign-off in honor of her Nanny’s memory after she passed away.
Fact is Stranger Than Comedy
“The Dentist” is one of the most hilarious skits from “The Carol Burnett Show” that stands the test of time. Tim Conway plays a bumbling dentist on his first day of work, much to the horror of his patient, played by Harvey Korman. Tim does an excellent job of making the audience and Harvey laugh, but his humor was based on real-life experience.
During Tim’s time in the Army, his dentist actually stuck himself with novocaine like Tim’s dentist character does in the skit. Tim had gone in to get a tooth removed, and the dentist stuck the needle right through Tim’s cheek and into his own hand.
“The Carol Burnett Show” was so successful because it gave TV viewers the feeling that it was aired live. The actors would improvise, laugh, and feed off the live studio audience’s energy. However, each episode was pre-recorded. They didn’t just do one recording, though.
Each episode of “The Carol Burnett Show” was filmed twice in front of two different audiences. They did this so the best parts of each taping could be edited together. This resulted in the best show possible for the audience watching at home. If an actor messed up their line both times, the flub was included in the final product.
The Spin-Off That Never Was
Hollywood is full of TV shows and movies that never go to production. This “Carol Burnett Show” spin-off is no exception to the Hollywood show graveyard. Producers wanted to make a spin-off show based on Tim Conway’s character Mr. Tudball. However, the potential sitcom was dead in the water as far as Tim was concerned.
First off, Tim didn’t see enough potential in his character. He didn’t think Mr. Tudball had enough material to carry his own show. In addition, Carol’s rendition of Mrs. Wiggins completed the famous sketch. Due to her work schedule, Carol would have been unable to commit to the spin-off. Tim wasn’t interested in pursuing the idea without Carol by his side.
The Celeb That Got Away
“The Carol Burnett Show” was one of the top television shows of the 1970s. The show saw a star-studded roster of special guests throughout its eleven-season run. From Steve Martin to Ronald Reagan, “The Carol Burnett Show” featured the “who’s who” of Hollywood on its stage. However, there was one star that Carol was unable to book during all those years.
Carol desperately wanted Bette Davis to come onto the show as a guest star. However, they were never able to make it happen. Bette charged way more money than the show’s budget allowed, and the star’s team was never open to negotiation.