SAG-AFTRA is giving a tug of its ear to one of TV most popular funny people. Carol Burnett has been tapped to receive the union’s highest tribute, the SAF Life Achievement Award, which will be presented January 30 at the 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. She led the riotous variety hit The Carol Burnett Show, which aired from 1967-78 on CBS and a few months at the end on ABC. The chemistry among and regulars including Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner kept the sketch comedy comin’ in an era when the variety format was waning and shows typically lasted only a few seasons.
She will be the 52nd recipient of the award, which is present each year to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession.” Burnett’s crowded trophy case already includes a half-dozen Emmys, multiple Golden Globes, a Tony, a Peabody, a Kennedy Center Honor and its Mark Twain Prize for Humor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2013, the City of Los Angeles named the intersection of Highland & Selma as Carol Burnett Square.
Since her variety show wrapped, Burnett has continues to work, mostly in TV. Recent roles include recurring on Hot In Cleveland, Glee and as Steve McGarrett Aunt Deb on Hawaii Five-O. She also appeared on such series as the successful Burnett Show spinoff Mama’s Family, Mad About You — winning an Emmy for her guest gig — and All My Children along with toplining a pair of short-lived variety shows in the early 1990s.
“Carol Burnett is a creative dynamo and a comedic genius,” SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard said in a statement today. “She embodies the generosity and courage that the greatest actors use in creating enduring and memorable characters. From her heartbreakingly hilarious Starlet O’Hara to the adorably inept Eunice and alarmingly funny Miss Hannigan, Carol has delighted and inspired millions of viewers and thousands of comedic actors. She took risks as a performer and through her courage, encouraged fellow actors to try new things and always, always reach for the sky. Her innate love of actors led to the creation of an ensemble cast that made The Carol Burnett Show a masterpiece of variety programming.”