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Archive for September 3rd, 2017

by Brandie Ashe

Starlet O’Hara: “What brings you to Terra?”

Rat Butler: “You, you vixen, you. Starlet, I love you. That–that–that gown is gorgeous!”

Starlet O’Hara: “Thank you. I saw it in the window and I just couldn’t resist it.”

Arguably the most memorable sketch from The Carol Burnett Show, “Went With the Wind” remains a masterpiece of parody, hitting one hilarious beat after another with nary a misstep. And really, it all comes down to a single moment: the audacious, fantastic visual of Burnett, in that Bob Mackie-designed drapery dress, nonchalantly walking down the staircase with the curtain rod resting pertly on her shoulders.

It was this sketch that first introduced me to the show, long after its initial run ended in 1978. The show was one of my mother’s favorites, and this bit was one she particularly loved. In fact, several years ago, Mom made her own Starlet O’Hara curtain dress for a Halloween costume party, and it was an absolute hit. Even forty years later, “Went With the Wind”–and the brilliant show that spawned that sketch–remain beloved institutions of pop culture.

Carol Burnett was a star long before she exercised a contract option with CBS that granted her an Emmy-winning, self-named variety series in 1967. A novelty song called “I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles” made her a household name in 1957, and in the wake of that success, she appeared on several television series and scored a starring role on Broadway in the 1959 musical Once Upon a Mattress, which landed her a Tony nomination. Her mentor and dear friend, the legendary comedienne Lucille Ball, offered to cast her in a starring role in a sitcom produced by her studio, Desilu, but Burnett declined in favor of creating a musical variety show that would allow her a certain amount of freedom of format. She gathered a cast that included funny folks like Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, Tim Conway, and even the great Dick Van Dyke at one point. Rounding out the cast was the young woman that Carol herself had become a mentor to, Vicki Lawrence. And together, they made comedy magic. (more…)

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