This touching and hilarious memoir is 100 percent Carol Burnett—funny, irreverent, and irresistible.
Carol Burnett is one of the most beloved and revered actresses and performers in America. The Carol Burnett Show was seen each week by millions of adoring fans and won twenty-five Emmys in its remarkable eleven-year run. Now, in This Time Together, Carol really lets her hair down and tells one funny or touching or memorable story after another.
In engaging anecdotes, Carol discusses her remarkable friendships with stars such as Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, and Julie Andrews; the background behind famous scenes, like the moment she swept down the stairs in her curtain-rod dress in the legendary “Went with the Wind” skit; and things that would happen only to Carol—the prank with Julie Andrews that went wrong in front of the First Lady; the famous Tarzan Yell that saved her during a mugging; and the time she faked a wooden leg to get served in a famous ice cream emporium.
This poignant look back allows us to cry with the actress during her sorrows, rejoice in her successes, and finally, always, to laugh.
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About the Author
Carol Burnett has been an actor on Broadway, on television, and in the movies. She has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The Mark Twain Prize for Humor and the Kennedy Center Honors, among other singular achievements of a woman comedian who was nothing less than a pioneer and a role model for stars like Tina Fey, Amy Pohler and Amy Schumer.
Read an Excerpt
During the past few years, I’ve zigzagged across the country appearing in various theaters performing Laughter and Reflection: A Conversation with Carol, Where the Audience Asks the Questions. It’s just the audience and me. The evening lasts ninety minutes, beginning with seven minutes of old Q & A clips from our TV variety show to give the audience an idea of what the evening is going to be like. Then I come out onstage and ask for the lights to be bumped up, so I can see everyone.
Me: Tonight is all about any questions you might have for me . . . about our show, the people I’ve worked with, moments that stand out in your memory that you’re curious about—anything at all. So just raise your hands, and here we go!
It’s always a little scary, because I’m working without a safety net. There are no “plants” in the audience, because if the event feels pre-planned, it takes the fun out of it. The audience can tell it’s off the cuff, and through the years people have been pretty enthusiastic—and aren’t at all shy about raising their hands. When I call on someone I never know what the question will be. I have to say, it keeps the ol’ gray matter ticking and the blood pumping.
However, through the years there have been questions that were asked over and over, which gives me a breather by allowing me to count on being able to tell some set stories. If these questions weren’t asked (for instance, if the audience was sitting on its hands), often I could bring up the subject myself and tell the story anyway. (Whew!)
What follows are some of these stories that I’ve shared over the years in response to various questions. Some have to do with our gang on the variety show, embarrassing moments, famous people, not-so-famous people, family, and so on. Since I’m not planning on doing too many more of these story evenings in the future, I figured I’d write up my favorite stories for my grandkids and anybody else who might enjoy them—who might have some fun and laughs and maybe some nostalgic moments as well.
Many years ago, in 1986, I wrote a memoir called One More Time, which was couched as a letter to my three daughters, telling them all about my growing up in a dysfunctional yet loving family. That book didn’t take my life beyond age twenty-six. This time I’m emphasizing episodes and anecdotes that have brought me to the present time, although I’ve also included a few stories from childhood that bear repeating. Originally I began writing this book as a simple series of anecdotes, but as I got into it I found that I went into more detail than I usually do onstage. I also found myself writing about things that I haven’t talked about onstage but which resonate with me. Some of them are even serious. These thoughts and feelings just kind of poured out onto the page. They might not be as amusing as some of my other remembrances, but they’re memories I’d like to share. So what follows is a kind of memoir peppered with anecdotes here and there. I hope you enjoy it.
Rumplemayer’s and the Mean Hostess
During the summer of 1959 Once upon a Mattress was enjoying a healthy run, and a few of us in the cast decided to splurge one Saturday night after the show and treat ourselves to a sundae at the most expensive ice cream parlor in New York City: Rumplemayer’s, in the St. Moritz Hotel on Central Park South. Even though Mattress had been running for a few months and I had done some television, I was far from being recognizable in public. Nonetheless, I was flush with the excitement of being in a hit stage show and raking in $80 a week to boot. I could afford a Rumplemayer’s treat.
Rumplemayer’s was a pretty posh ice cream parlor. You could spot familiar faces there anytime after the bows had been taken and the lights had dimmed on Broadway for the night. Some folks went to nightclubs or bars, but those who had a sweet tooth and who also wanted to be seen went to Rumplemayer’s. I remember having peeked in a few months earlier and spotting Marlene Dietrich in a gorgeous gray pantsuit at the counter, elegantly digging a long-handled spoon into a whipped cream goodie.
On this night four of us pushed our way through the re olving door and stood casing the scene as we waited for the hostess. It was crowded, but there were a couple of empty tables in the back. The hostess, in a blue dress with a white collar and cuffs and sporting a very tight bun in her hair, approached us with menus. She took a closer look, and smoke began to come out of her ears.
“EXCUSE ME! But just what do you think you’re doing?”
She was looking straight at me.
“I SAID, what do you think you’re doing?”
Before I could speak, she went off on a major tear. “Young woman, don’t you realize that we don’t allow ladies in RUMPLEMAYER’S wearing SLACKS? SL-ACKS”—she made it two syllables and pronounced them like a dirty word—“are FOR-BID-DEN!”
She was actually screaming at me. Her pipes could’ve given Ethel Merman a run for her money. I wondered if maybe her bun was too tight. Suddenly I noticed that the place had become strangely quiet: fewer clinking spoons, less slurping through straws. More than a few customers were watching us, evidently waiting to see if the hostess was going to shoot me. I was feeling like an axe murderer and at the same time awfully humiliated. I was dressed in a nice pair of black slacks, not jeans, but apparently that was still enough of a social gaffe for her to send me up the river and put me in solitary.
My friends and I were frozen in place, but this lady wouldn’t quit. I looked for the swastika on her sleeve as she continued her harangue.
“DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? FOR-BID-DEN!”
I was about to slink out backward when the image of Marlene Dietrich came to me out of nowhere. She had been in SL-ACKS and nobody had yelled at her. And all this hostess needed to do with us was to nicely explain the rules. It could have gone thusly:
Hostess: (quietly) I’m awfully sorry, miss, but Rumplemayer’s has a dress code, and ladies are not seated if they’re wearing slacks. I do hope you and your friends will come back and see us soon. Here’s a mint.
Me: (quietly) Oh, of course. I’m sorry, I didn’t know. We’ll definitely come back another time, and thank you so much for the mint. (We exit with dignity.)
End of Scene.
Simple. No problem. But noooo.
Astonishingly, she was still at it, not only for our benefit now, but clearly for that of the entire restaurant: “I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU KIDS GET OFF THINKING YOU CAN BREAK THE RULES WHENEVER YOU WANT!”
You could’ve heard a pin drop. At this point, the image of Dietrich in pants was looming full screen in my mind’s eye. I opened my mouth to speak.
“Please forgive me,” I said sweetly (but projecting so that every customer could hear), “but I have a wooden leg, and I’m too embarrassed to wear a skirt.”
Dead silence. I felt the entire restaurant getting ready to line the hostess up in front of a firing squad. She felt it, too. She led us to a back table. I dragged my wooden leg all the way across the room without bending my knee and ate my hot fudge sundae while sitting stiff-legged the whole time.
The revenge tasted sweeter than the sundae.
Table of Contents
Jimmy Stewart 5
Early Days in Hollywood 11
Tweety, Mama, and Chris 13
Alfred Hitchcock and the Epaulets 15
Remembering the Early Days in New York 21
Stretching Pennies 23
The Dress 25
One Rainy Night 27
The Rehearsal Club Revue 30
John Foster Dulles and the Blue Angel Nightclub 32
Once upon a Mattress and George Abbott 37
Rumplemayer's and the Mean Hostess 41
Garry Moore's Variety Show 44
My Dog Bruce and The Office 50
Walking Alone at Night in New York City 55
Nanny and the Auditions 57
Nanny's Visit to New York 60
Aunt Iney 65
Viewer Discretion Advised 68
Lunchtime at the Turkey Farm 72
Tarzan and Bergdorf Goodman 74
John Steinbeck and the Twenty-fourth Floor 77
CBS vs. My Variety Show 79
Our Rep Players 83
Vicki Lawrence 85
Harvey Korman 91
Lyle Waggoner 99
Tim Conway 703
Conway's Cancellation 107
Bob Mackie 111
Jim Nabors 115
Talking to the Audience 118
The Writers' Room 125
Cary Grant 127
Cary, Harvey, and Tim at the Racetrack 133
Adrienne Lenore Weingardt 136
Carol Channing and Food for Thought 138
Lucy, Zero, and Carol + 2 144
Dinner with Lucy at the Farmers' Market 149
Jody and Ray Charles 153
Erin and Diplomacy 156
My Chum Julie Andrews 158
A Very Bad Hair Day 165
Julie, Mike Nichols, and the Lady in the Elevator 170
Laurence Olivier 173
Walter Matthau 175
The Front Page and Mea Culpa 181
Restaurant Reservations 184
All My Children 186
Keeping Up with Pine Valley While in Europe 189
Joan Crawford 191
How Not to Make Small Talk with Royalty 196
Stanwyck and the Leprechaun 200
A Girl Named Kathy 203
The End of the Run 211
Annie and John Huston 214
Living in a High-Rise All Alone 222
Body by Jake 225
Marlon Brando 230
Mr. Computer 235
Beverly Sills 239
Questions and Answers on the Road 243
Hal Prince, Hollywood Arms, Carrie 254
Carrie and the Fib 262
What's Next? 264
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As you read "This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection", it's as if Carol Burnett was sitting in your living room having a glass of wine or at the breakfast table sipping coffee with you and regaling you with funny, sweet and melancholy stories from her life. Many of the stories in the book deal with her variety series, "The Carol Burnett Show", as well as showbiz friends and colleagues like Lucille Ball, Beverly Sills, Julie Andrews, Walter Matthau, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and many others. Her family, her early career trials and tribulations in New York City, and her life after "The Carol Burnett Show" are featured as well in this wonderful collection. One story will have you literally laughing out loud (Ms. Burnett's quick retort to a prickly hostess at an upscale ice cream shop in NYC) while the next will bring tears to your eyes (how devoted Lucy was in sending Carol flowers every year on her birthday). The book and its stories show the humor, talent, and heart of one of television's most iconic and real entertainers - the finest comedienne of our time. An idol of mine since childhood, my love for her and her work has grown even more with this reading. "This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection" is a great gift for anyone who remembers her classic variety show with lovely stories of her, Harvey, Vicki and Tim! I finished this book in no time because I couldn't put it down and I thoroughly enjoyed my time together with Carol.
Carol revisits, verbatim, sections from her first book, One More Time, which was a poignant,funny, sad and wonderful book. So, I was disappointed Carol did not have enough new anecdotal material for us to enjoy in this second book. She and her fellow comedians were so very funny and special that I would have enjoyed a book just about her first show. This new book also bounced around to different time frames which was kind of awkward. If I had not read the first book, I would have enjoyed this book more. I did enjoy very much the stories about Carol and Julie Andrews. Two real ladies of the theater. I wish I could have seen them live just one time.
I grew up watching The Carol Burnett Show and am better for it, and so I couldn't wait to get this book. It is full of history, both of the show and of Carol, laugh out loud anecdotes and touching stories. I only wish this book could have gone on and on - because her stories are THAT good - meeting Cary Grant for the first time, firing Harvey Korman, raising her sister, appearing on her favorite soap of all time, "All My Children" and of course, her daughter Carrie, with whom she wrote "Hollywood Arms". Trust me, if you're a fan of Carol's (and really, who isn't??), get this book. You will probably be finished within a matter of days, because you won't be able to put it down; nor will you want to. Carol, I'M so glad we had this time together - Thank you!!
I so enjoyed Miss Burnett's latest book greatly. The stories are heartwarming and entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud at some times, others I shared Carol's pain. As a fan of her career and especially her variety show, I enjoyed all the reminiscing and remembered some of the stories. I'm planning to purchase another copy of this book as a gift for my in-laws to give them on an upcoming visit.
America's favorite funny woman Carol Burnett does a program around the country where she simply sits in a chair and takes questions from the audience. She candidly answers them and they range from the broad to the personal. This book is written in the same way, it is stories of her life and thoughts. She has been a pioneer in that she headed a variety show in a time when women were not part of the male dominated hierarchical structure. She did a bit in 1957 at the Blue Angel nightclub in East Side of Manhattan that revolved around a story of a girl who went ape over then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. This garnered a lot of publicity and once the subject of her show as asked what he thought of it? He smiled and with a twinkle in his eye said "I make it a policy never to discuss matters of the heart in public". At least it shows that he had a sense of humor. Her grandmother was her patron and as was a real character. One time she went to visit her in her apartment, she was in her eighties, and she told her it was too dark in that room. As the good granddaughter she went to remove the cover from the light and her grandmother told her don't do that, that's my love light! Apparently she had an able 40 year old suitor. She shares insight into her Carol Burnett Show and the cast of characters from Jim Nabors, who always was always a guest on her first show for the eleven year run. Burnett befriended many of her movie idles in Jimmy Stewart and Lucille Ball. Lucille Ball taught her to be tough and always sent her flowers on her birthday. On the day she learned of Ball's death, she still received flowers on her birthday. Her life story is open and honest and she speaks to losing a child, her divorce, and finding love. This funny woman keeps working and sharing her talent with a new generation of fans. This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett will tickle your funny bone and also touch your heart to the life and times of this American icon.
I enjoyed this book. The characters were well presented. Nanny is a riot, you'll fall in love with her. I particularly enjoyed the parts where Carol had such a difficult time meeting her own idols, such as Cary Grant, simply because they were also fans and she didn't want to ruin their image of her. From the stories of how Burnett got into show biz to the funny tales of the people and guests of her regular show, the reader feels the warmth and humor, and the sadness, of each story. Burnett is truly a great entertainer.
When I heard Ms. Burnett's interview on my favorite Philadelphia radio station, I made it a point to purchase her book. I decided to buy the hard cover so that I could then share it with my mother and my dear friends, rather than keeping it all to myself on my Kindle. I was not disappointed in this decision. Her humor and ease of telling these stories kept me turning the pages. I took this with me to my boys ball games and practices so that I could continue turning. I was saddened to reach the end. I just wanted to keep hearing about her memories. When I was reading, I could actually hear her telling it. A must have! You won't regret it!
The moment I started this book I knew I wouldn't put it down until I read the whole thing. I grew up watching this talented performer and reading her stories, I felt as though I was having a one-on-one conversation with her. Needless to say I caught myself laughing out loud more than a few times in the course of the book's journey. She had a remarkable career and a great life story to tell. A great book too good to pass up. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
A real page-turner! I couldn't put it down, nor could I stop chuckling!
I adore carol burnett! I remember watching her tv shows and they always made me laugh. The book was easy to read and get into.I finished the book in a couple days. She will always be one of my favorite comediennes of all time.
We listened to This Time Together on a long road trip and we found ourselves not wanting to get out of the vehicle. Ms Burnett obviously has a way of connecting with people that she meets, even those of us who have not had the pleasure of meeting her. I absolutely LOVE Carol Burnett and I'm so glad that she opened up her life to us. It was a privilege to follow along with her highs, lows and life lessons that she learned along her jouney. A sense of humor, staying grounded and some good old fashioned good luck has helped her reach her dreams and it's a lesson that I will carry with me on my journey. FYI - My cat's name is also Mabel. Mabel Mae actually... :)
This book is exactly what you would expect if you know anything about Carol Burnett. And if you don't? - Well get comfy with a new friend, but be careful who is around you because you will laugh out loud at times. The thing that is so sweet is all of the sincere credit and accolades Ms. Burnett bestows on her "second family" as she calls it. When so many stories surround the intense selfishness, to the point of ridiculousness that you laugh with bitterness it is nice to read something that makes you laugh without the negative head shake. The books reads easily just like you were being told the stories by the author herself with the belly laughs and conspiratal tones of someone sharing embarrassing stories. Nothing heavy, just sweet and funny. Will leave a smile on your face and make you look for her shows on tivo:)
Catch a glimpse of a bygone era. Google the people, events, and shows she discusses and find some gems.
Let's start with a disclosure: I'm pretty sure Carol Burnett is one of the two reasons I have a catastrophic attraction to redheads/gingers, despite the fact that I'm gay. I crushed on her big time as a pre-teen who didn't really understand what crushes were, captivated by first her hair and then her performances. Carol's comedic timing and stage presence impacted me at that most impressionable of ages, and that impact has never left me. I could watch reruns of the Carol Burnett show and Carol's various variety specials over and over and over again and never stop laughing. But this is a review of her latest memoir, not of her or her shows. The book is, much like the Q&A sessions of her shows that it is modeled on, bright and breezy with just occasional hints of seriousness when warranted. She tells some very familiar stories and sprinkles in new anecdotes. It's not a heavy read, nor a slow one. Readers looking for depth of detail about Carol's personal life will be disappointed, but the book isn't advertised as that type of memoir. I enjoyed spending this time reminiscing with one of my favorite comedians. I wish it could have been longer.
This was a funny entertaining account of the life of a very interesting lady.
The book is funny. I love to read about T.V. back in the day!!
What a wonderful read. It's like being with Ms Burnett and having a conversation with her. I bought a copy for my mother as she and I always watched the Carol Burnett Show together. This book brought back some wonderful memories.
Carol Burnett is so real! I love how she invites you into her life and lets you see things from her point of view.
Like a lovely picnic in the park on a Sunday afternoon.
Really enjoyed the memories of the different skits from her show and reading the behind the scenes stuff. It made me laugh and cry and remember how much I liked watching the show with my mom. Only complaint was that the end came too fast.
This book is a terrific trip down memory lane. I grew up entertained by Carol Burnett & Co and enjoyed reliving many classic moments of her t.v. show and specials. I also enjoyed her behind the scenes stories and personal stories of her family and friends. The chapters are short & sweet and had me laughing out loud or wiping a tear. It felt like I was catching up with an old friend and couldn't wait to get to the next chapter to hear the next story.
Wonderful warm and funny..had me laughing out loud!
Since this book is a collection of anecdotes, it is a little disjointed as far as smooth reading, but it makes up for it in insight, humor, and human warmth. If you are a fan of Carol Burnett and the assortment of mixed nuts who made up her cast and entourage, you will probably get a couple of belly laughs from this book. And if you can admire a person who matter-of-factly describes the dysfunction of her family and the difficulty of her early life, without ever making it an excuse for anything, you'll appreciate this book and the author. The book swings between factually biographical and anecdotally hysterical, and between triumphant and tragic. Throughout it all, the author has nothing but praise for friends, family and co-workers, with never a bad word about anyone...well, except for the Pants Nazi.
"This Time Together" was not only a wonderful story, but a great insight to the many trials that an actress like Carol Burnett would face not only during her career, but after it as well. Carol Burnett, well known for her careers as an actress of both film and stage as well as TV, where her fame became nationwide. It discusses many of the events that took place during her life as a struggling actress, and even covers the years after she retired from the Carol Burnett Show after eleven seasons. Its main points discuss the awkward moments of her life, such as meeting famous actors that she knew in childhood or dealing with problems from her career. As the story begins, it covers what early Broadway was like in the ages before Television and Movies were the main source of entertainment. She starts out as a nobody, to whom money is a privilege, not a right. She soon gains enough to travel to New York though, and from there she slowly starts to look for bigger jobs. At first, she cannot seem to find any work, as all the jobs say she needs an agent to be in something, whilst the agents say she needs to be in something to get an agent. Frustrated, she eventually gets an agent to help her book her first real performance, and from there things go skyward. As the book goes on, it discusses Carol's first chances to be on TV, and her struggle to keep her head leveled. She starred on many shows such as Password, the Gary Moore show, and eventually gained her own show through talks with CBS's contracts. She also became a small starlet who was featured in several prominent features of that day and age. The show, which CBS thought would be a flop, lasted for eleven award winning seasons, but like all good things, had to come to an end. As Carol Burnett said, "The last show was bittersweet. It was 1978 and our creative family had been through so much together over the years: marriages, divorces, births, deaths, bad times, and good times. We were all blubbering when the final strains of "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together" were being played. I sang "comes the time we all have to say so long," pulled my ear for the last time, and it was over." (Carol Burnett). This marked the finale of the hit show that had brought her and most of her friends together and had kept them happy over the years. The book emphasizes that hard work and a good sense of humor are all you need in order to succeed in life. People who know and love Carol Burnett, or even those with a small curiosity into what made this woman such a star, would enjoy the book and the many stories it is made up of. It is quite easy to like the basic humor, as I did, but one must be careful not to look too deep into some of the smaller stories. Overall though, I believe it was one of the best and most entertaining Autobiographies I have read in quite a long time.
For those of us the grew up watching her show weekly all through our formative years, this book is an enjoyable walk behind the scenes with the fun characters that made the show happen. No great revelations. No hidden skeletons come out of the closet. Just descriptions of funny people being friends and coming together to make a show happen.