Taking the stage at the 2019 Golden Globes to a standing ovation, iconic comedian Carol Burnett “won” the first ever Carol Burnett Award — the new television equivalent of film’s Cecil B. DeMille Award. And, true to form, Burnett made us laugh and cry.
Steve Carell set the stage for the historic moment by giving Burnett a worthy intro, calling her a comedy legend who is so nice, “she makes Tom Hanks look like an asshole.” Carell called Burnett up to the podium, saying that the opportunity to present her with the award was the greatest honor of his life.
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“My first love growing up was the movies. I would see six to eight movies every week with my grandmother, who raised me,” Burnett started her speech. “And later, when I was a teenager, we got our first television set, and then I got a new love. But what fascinated me was how the stars on the screen could make people laugh, or cry, or maybe both.”
Getting choked up, Burnett noted what we all know: The dreams she had to elicit those same responses from audiences ultimately came true. And now, at 85 years old, she looks back on those early years of her career and catches herself “daydreaming about being young and doing it all over,” she shared. “And then I bring myself up short, when I realize how incredibly fortunate I was to be there at the right time. Because what we did then — it couldn’t be done today.”
The cost of her show alone — the production involved, the two guest stars per week — would be prohibitive, Burnett explained. “Today’s audiences might never know what they’re missing,” she admitted, adding, “So here’s to reruns and YouTube.”
Burnett also spoke directly to other entertainers, to “all those out there who share the love I have for television and yearn to be part of this unique medium that has been so good to me.” Her charge: “We’ve been granted a gift, a canvas to paint with our talent… to make people laugh, or cry, or maybe both.”
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“I’m just happy our show happened when it did, and I can look back and say once more I’m so glad we had this time together,” Burnett said, wrapping up her speech with a tug on her ear — just as she famously did at the end of every episode of The Carol Burnett Show, in tribute to her beloved grandmother.
Prior to winning her eponymous award at this year’s Golden Globes, Burnett won Globes for The Carol Burnett Show five times: in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1978 (and she’s won a slew of other awards, naturally).