HOLLYWOOD-Carol Burnett is what one may call the ultimate renaissance entertainer. She’s an accomplished actress, widely recognized as one of the best comedians of our time, a bestselling author and has enough vocal skills to belt out “Sweet Georgia Brown” with simplistic ease. Her name is synonymous with success.
The funny lady who graduated from Hollywood High School in 1951, has achieved what others may think is unthinkable. Her long-running television show, “The Carol Burnett Show,” captured 25 Emmy Awards during its 11-year run. Burnett is the recipient of eight Golden Globes Awards and has six Emmys among all of the accolades she has received and accumulated throughout the years, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Burnett has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and has authored two New York Times bestsellers. All of that adulation is well-deserved. But Burnett may have received the treat of her life when Hollywood High School, home to alumni such as Charlene Tilton (Dallas), Mickey Rooney, the late John Ritter, Judy Garland and Laurence Fishburne, paid homage to her in a big and special way.
Combining a major fundraising effort to help raise funds to support its performing arts program, Burnett was saluted as the first recipient of the Carol Burnett Distinction of Honor Award presented by her alma mater. The well-attended event, which featured red-carpet celebrity sightings and a knockout performance by Hollywood High School Performing Arts Center alum and current students, was a special evening for Burnett as many of her peers came out to show their support.
Among those in attendance were actresses Erin Murphy (Bewitched), Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H), Deborah Shelton and Tilton (Dallas), Kim Poirer (Dawn of the Dead) and Academy Award winner Shirley Jones (Oklahoma! and The Partridge Family). Jones, who won an Oscar for best actress in a supporting role in the movie Elmer Gantry, has known Burnett for a long time. Jones believes Burnett could not receive enough of these awards.
“It’s wonderful,” Jones said. “She should get more and more of these kinds of things. She deserves it all. She’s best female comedian ever. I loved her show. I was a big fan of her show. I’ve know Carol since we’ve started out together. We’re close in age and stuff, so we’ve known each other forever.”
Celebrities weren’t the only ones participating in the “Hooray for Hollywood…High” event which was held at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge made a declaration to make the day,” Carol Burnett Day.”
Kellerman, who originated the character Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in the movie version of the hit series M*A*S*H, said she’s enjoyed Burnett’s funny antics over the years.
“She’s one of the great entertainers of all-time,” Kellerman said. “She’s funny, just funny. It’s no-holds-barred. Its like, ‘What else can you do to make us laugh? She’s incredible. She was just a clown down to her soul, just willing to give us anything and we loved it.’”