Burnett began her career with small roles in television and on stage in New York. On January 6, 1957, she made her way to CBS studios for the first of her five appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
While hosting The Very Best of the Ed Sullivan Show: Unforgettable Performances, a television special in 1991, Carol recalled the two most difficult things she had ever done in her life: her debut on Broadway and her first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. She described how she anxiously awaited in the wings of the Sullivan stage with her knees knocking to the beat of the performer that preceded her. When Ed Sullivan introduced her as the “very funny girl who was discovered by Garry Moore,” she shook off the nerves and soon had the audience laughing hysterically. For this first appearance, she performed amusing characterizations of novice singers at an audition.
In August of 1957, Burnett returned to sing two comedy songs. The first, “I Made a Fool of Myself over John Foster Dulles,” about the current Secretary of State, was the song that made her the talk of the town. She also sang a comedic version of “Puppy Love,” and did a satire of teenagers and rock songs.
Carol returned to the Sullivan show twice in 1958. The first time to do a consolidated Emmy award show, and the second to do a sketch about a teen with braces.
In 1959, Carol landed a role in the Broadway musical Once Upon a Mattress and became a regular on The Garry Moore Show, for which she won an Emmy in 1962. In 1967, The Carol Burnett Show debuted. Her very popular variety show ran until 1978 and managed to win 23 Emmys over the course of its run.
The last time Burnett made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was in 1970. Sullivan was hosting an award program honoring entertainers. Lucille Ball came on stage to present the “Comedienne of 1970” award to Burnett. Carol continued to find success, appearing in several films and television shows, winning six Emmys, two Golden Globes, a Peabody Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honor, and her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To this day, Burnett continues to perform and to fill hearts with laughter.