Speaker I first met Carol and a class at the Theater Arts Department at UCLA.

Speaker Were both new students and it was acting to a class that I did not want to take because I had no plans in that area. But she wanted to take it, apparently, because she wanted to be a journalism major. But I didn’t have a journalism major at UCLA.

Speaker So she came over to t.A.

Speaker At any rate, it’s still Harmon, who was a very noted teacher, gave a first class assignment, was to pick out a partner and prepare a scene. And so I just sat there. I didn’t know anyone in the class and pairs would go off this way and that way. And all of a sudden the class area, the classroom area was empty, except for a girl who was sitting over there.

Speaker She obviously didn’t know anyone either.

Speaker She looked over, smiled and shrugged and figured that we were partners and something must have took because she had friends for over 50 years.

Speaker That’s amazing. Do you remember what your first.

Speaker Yeah, the first scene was William Syrians.

Speaker Hello out there. It’s kind of a dark drama. I played a.

Speaker Young man who is in prison in a small Texas town, who strikes up a relationship with the daughter of the sheriff and I don’t remember how well we did with that same, but we did a number of them.

Speaker I can’t remember all of them. But I do know that the Lord that Carol.

Speaker They do know they’ve, Carol, played Les Estrada once and. We did our final scene together, and that was. Red peppers from. No cowards. Tonight at eight thirty. I was a little musical comedy, and it was the first time that Carol had done a comedy scene and she was a sensation and heard her first. Got her first laughs.

Speaker And it took. We did a play that same year.

Speaker There was a one act program at UCLA and the. The campus did not have a building for the theater arts department in those days, we were housed in Quonset huts and barracks out in the back 40. And one of the barracks was three G one. And that was our stage as our theater. So the one act program went on and three G one.

Speaker And Carol and I were cast in a comedy called Keep Me a Woman Groen. Much about hillbillies.

Speaker And she had two scenes and she was she just knocked them out in the first scene when she came when she made her second entrance. Her first line was back and she stopped the show. The students began applauding and laughing and the whole thing. Well, then she knew where was she was heading.

Speaker Yes. She has said I’ve heard her say in fact, she said to me that kind of a light bulb went off for her when she got that first laugh.

Speaker As you say anything to you.

Speaker Oh, yeah. Oh, of course. Well, I think the same thing. It was the light bulb.

Speaker Did she decide then? I’m changing career paths or what?

Speaker I don’t know that she had a career path at that time because this whole thing was a surprise to her. She hadn’t enrolled at UCLA to become an actress. She was heading for newspaper or magazine work. And so this came as kind of a surprise. I think probably she’s OK. She’d always been a performer of sorts. She sure got her share of laughs in high school and that sort of thing. But I don’t think that there was a. Change in plans, except that it went from journalism to theater now.

Speaker And did she seem?

Speaker I mean, she has talked about also that, you know, she was quite insecure in many ways before and that in some ways she felt more secure in a character. And I’m wondering if you saw that.

Speaker I don’t know. I can’t remember back on that level.

Speaker But Carol has never been terribly complex character as far as I’m concerned. She’s always been easy to know. She’s always been easy to be with the problems that she had. She would share. But it wasn’t, as I recall, ever in a.

Speaker Desperate way, nothing that she couldn’t really handle. I think that that has been true of her throughout her life and career.

Speaker Do you think that she. I mean, she started out doing some more dramatic scenes and did you see her learn and grow?

Speaker Or was it one of those things where she just walked on and that she had it?

Speaker I think it was the latter. Can you say that’s all right? Yes, yes, of course.

Speaker State again.

Speaker So I can use the I’m just wondering if she if there was an evolution that she learned kind of got her legs or if she just had it from the beginning. I think that.

Speaker It was not a matter of doing it again. Sorry. The evolving of Carol’s talent was not a matter of knowing nothing and learning or studying to become an actress, to become a performer. I think it was innate. I don’t know that she ever seriously studied. I think that she grew, of course. But I think it was through the experience of performing, whether it was at school or when she got back to New York.

Speaker Green mansions or the hard knocks school. I guess.

Speaker And did she have any sort of you know, did she have role models professionally that she sort of aspired to at all? Do you recall?

Speaker Mm hmm.

Speaker I think Carol was enamored of a number of movie stars at the time.

Speaker I’m not sure how much theater she saw as a youngster, but I know that she, a nanny, would go to two or three flicks a day. I know that Jimmy Stewart was one of the loves that were alive.

Speaker I’m going I can’t think of any other actors or actresses offhand. But Jimmy Stewart.

Speaker And what do you think it was about comedy that just came so naturally to her? Why do you think she’s so successful? Is that her physicality is the way she just throws herself into. What is it that makes his comedy just so right for her?

Speaker I think Carol probably has the best timing of any person I’ve ever known. And that’s in sitting across the table in a restaurant from her as as well as seeing her on the tube or around watching her on the stage or in a film. The timing is is just perfection. I do think that she enjoys pleasing, though. And it may hark back to something that you said about not being terribly pleased with her persona when she was a youngster. I’m not sure.

Speaker But I think giving the pleasure and immediately getting the return of the applause and the laughter or whatever is important.

Speaker And when when you would work with her on scenes and, you know, pick and select scenes to do things.

Speaker And she seemed to know really early on what worked for her and what didn’t like what kinds of things.

Speaker I think she knew what worked for her. Yes. I don’t think, however, that she was afraid of trying new things. She did rely a lot on directors.

Speaker I think that that probably went on through her career.

Speaker But so she she was she wasn’t afraid to try anything. But I do think she knows.

Speaker She knew.

Speaker Instinctively, what worked for you?

Speaker Tell me if you would want her living situation was at that time. Talked about?

Speaker Well, I lived I lived off campus for the first semester in Eagle Rock and had to drive through. We didn’t have a lot of freeways that I had to drive through Hollywood to get to Westwood. And I would pick Carol up three days a week. I think three mornings a week. We had a similar class schedules on Wilcox Avenue, the apartment she shared with with Nanny. But I never saw the apartment. I did see the foyer or the lobby because and the foyer had a green patterned rug or had some green in it. And she and her sister, Chris, would play a game called Don’t Step on the Green. I’m not quite sure that I could recreate don’t step on the green at this point. I don’t even know if Carol could, but that’s as far as I got.

Speaker Later, when I read her memoir, I realized that people weren’t invited into the apartment because Nanny was a packrat and there were bails of newspapers around and things like that.

Speaker So she never mentioned any of that?

Speaker No, no.

Speaker OK. I think it’s good enough for there’s another one. Yeah.

Speaker This is that is the heavy end in Connecticut that I that I go to to see Mother Dolores. They’ve done three c.D now women and chant and they do them in the church.

Speaker And whenever a truck goes by, they have to do it all over again.

Speaker Well, especially in here, you think we’re on a soundstage? You think so? Yeah, yeah. OK, good for me. OK. We’re just gonna say that she she never.

Speaker No. No.

Speaker Carol didn’t talk a lot about her family life.

Speaker I didn’t find out the reason that I wasn’t invited any further than the lobby until I read the book.

Speaker And what did you know about her family?

Speaker Oh, we would hang out at the V.V., which was what the kids at UCLA called the village delicatessen in Westwood Village.

Speaker And so you you talked about a lot of things. You talked about your family and stuff. But I don’t.

Speaker Again, I don’t ever recall thinking of her as one of a hundred neediest cases.

Speaker See?

Speaker But someone that. Many of us wanted to know. Now, I can’t I can’t remember her ever making a play for sympathy or whatever.

Speaker Do you think I mean, was she private about it? She didn’t want people to know or was she didn’t want to be. Know.

Speaker I don’t. I don’t know if it was that she wanted to remain private about it or just wasn’t able to expose herself or something that way.

Speaker I don’t I can’t think that there was ever a time. When when? Oh, she made us overly aware of her circumstances.

Speaker And what did you see, though, you know, when you saw her? I know you met Danny, obviously, when you saw them interacted, you see. What did you notice about their relationship?

Speaker Well, then it was the character of all time. I wish you were here for you to interview.

Speaker Along with one of her boyfriends.

Speaker Always considered she. But the story I love about Nanny. It’s not hilarious. But when I was back in New York, the time that Carol was doing Once upon a Mattress, we all went to Sardi’s for dinner. And I believe that Chris was there as well as Manny and maybe even Dolores Hart, who was doing. A play on Broadway at the same time. But at any rate, I was the only male at the table. And when the waiter came with the wine, he poured a little in my glass and I tasted it, whereupon a nanny shoved her glass in front of them. I said, Here, here. I’d like a little of that, too. I continue to see Nanny pretty regularly after Carol went back to New York and. So her just a day or so before her death, she was in a little Lumb Hospital, very close to the studio here on Fountain and. Western, I believe it’s Vermont. In Vermont.

Speaker When was when was that? I can’t think of the year. Was it? I’ll ask you again. Carol here. No, no, Carol wasn’t here.

Speaker I may be able to offer something about.

Speaker I know you’ve spoken to anyone else about the about Don Saroyan and Carol going to San Diego. I wish I was home.

Speaker Let me let me before we get to that. Okay.

Speaker You tell me, oh, good, you’re good. I did. Can you just explain it? Did you know at the time why she was living with her nanny as opposed to.

Speaker No, I never knew that until much later either.

Speaker Did you meet her mother?

Speaker I never met her mother, never met her father.

Speaker And I was very fond of Chris, however, her sister and what was her relationship with Chris, was she more like a mother to her sister? Tell me about that.

Speaker Well, she was certainly a sister up until the time she went to New York.

Speaker And I’m not sure how she was informed that Chris was.

Speaker Going with a rough crowd at high school and was becoming a.

Speaker That’s the word.

Speaker Well, I don’t think she was. She had hit wild yet, but it was somewhere. And Carol realized that she wasn’t getting the supervision here that she should have.

Speaker And that’s when she.

Speaker Arranged for Chris to come back and live with her in New York. And that’s when she became a mother, I think the two of them are very, very close. Now, they’ve they’ve remained close. But I think that there was certainly the maternal thing going there.

Speaker And did you realize, though, just from what you saw of Nanny and Carol’s relationship with her, did you realize how important Nanny was to Carol? Did you sense that? Or again, was it.

Speaker I’m not sure.

Speaker It wasn’t that you sensed how important Nanny was, Nanny just was there and you couldn’t get around her if you wanted to, but she was a lot of fun and nobody wanted to get around her.

Speaker So do you think that that’s where any of Carol’s sense of humor came from?

Speaker Well, I’m not sure if they knew how funny she was.

Speaker I really don’t. I think that. Many times, Nancy. Thought she was being very straight on something.

Speaker And we, of course, were roaring with laughter about what new shenanigans she had gotten up up to.

Speaker Wasn’t she? What was her? She had a religion, was. Wasn’t she a.

Speaker Christine, I think she’s Christian Science. Yes, I think man of was Christian Science.

Speaker And she was a bit of a hypochondriac, is that right?

Speaker Yes.

Speaker When Carol was first starting out in New York, she would call Randy once a week and. Because his letters were always complaining about her health. She was at death’s door and Carol’s would tell me that she would dial and then he would pick up the phone to say hello. And then, Carol, say, Daddy. Oh, dear. How are you? So I think she played a lot of it.

Speaker She probably wanted Carol.

Speaker Oh, yes. Yes. Well, or she wanted she could have been hurt. I’m not sure.

Speaker Do you think. I mean, I know, Carol, I think in her book wrote that that man who used to tell her that comedy is tragedy plus time. I’m saying and I’m just wondering if you think her sense of humor, Gerald’s sense of humor at all, sort of came out of the fact that she had a challenging background in childhood survival tool in any way?

Speaker I think it’s I think it’s certainly possible that that Carol’s background.

Speaker Added or.

Speaker Gave her a basis for a comedy because she was.

Speaker Always able to.

Speaker Laugh to find the funny thing that has happened even in some tragic.

Speaker Circumstances, I don’t know if this is appropriate.

Speaker But at the time, Carrie was so ill, she went she was in the hospital for some time and then was released and things were looking up for a while. And quite suddenly she came. She was hospitalized again.

Speaker And when, Carol.

Speaker I’m not sure if it was Carol when someone asked her why she was.

Speaker Back in the hospital, Kerry said, well, I’d miss the food.

Speaker Well, Kerry obviously was Carol’s daughter. That’s exactly what Carol would have said to you in the same circumstance.

Speaker It was a way to sort of keep going.

Speaker Yes. Yes, it’s a way to survive. It’s a way to keep going. And it’s a way to get your life.

Speaker I want to ask you more about Carrie. Carrie and Carol working with her in a minute, but I just wanted to ask you who tell me back in these Zilly time. Carol was dating at that time and about their relationship.

Speaker At that time, most of us in the theater are superb and we’re going out. And as a group are going to group.

Speaker And I don’t recall, Carol dating anyone specifically.

Speaker Although I knew Don Saroyan, I was already in the Army when when Don and Carol began going together.

Speaker So I hadn’t seen any of that attraction starting. It happened after I was away.

Speaker But you didn’t tell me the story about how Carol was able to go to New York when she decided to write.

Speaker Well, right after graduation, I was drafted and I spent part of my service career stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Speaker And Carol and I corresponded a lot during that period. And she kept bringing she would bring me up to date on what was happening in her life. And as I recall, she and Don were invited to perform. And I think it may have been a charity function, I’m not sure in San Diego. And they drove down and did their lact. And a gentleman who was feeling very little pain from the champagne apparently came back to congratulate them.

Speaker He was quite taken with them and wanted to know what they were going to do with their lives or what they wanted to do with their lives. And Carol said, well, we want to go to New York and we want to work on Broadway. And he said, then why don’t you? And she said, well, that’s a little matter of money. And he said, well, put his money. And I think she may have said it. The only people that ever ask that question are the people with money.

Speaker So he said, how much do you think you would need? And off the top of her head, she just picked a figure of a thousand dollars each. And he said, I would be happy to subsidize you. And neither she nor Don believed in what they thought. It was the champagne talking.

Speaker But a few days later, they got a call to come and meet him in his office. And they did. And the man had two checks. Each for a thousand dollars, which he handed over to them and said that the cheque came with four stipulations.

Speaker I think your first.

Speaker They were to use it. For their careers, second, they were you they were to use it to go to New York. And they could not reveal who their benefactor was.

Speaker And.

Speaker When they made it, they had to help someone else. I don’t think I’ve missed any there.

Speaker I’m not sure.

Speaker But, yeah, absolutely. I don’t know who. I don’t know who I know. He hadn’t she called him by initial Mr. Somebody with the initial of his name. But her P.S. on that letter was, I guess, what? The checks. Good. I just bought toothpaste.

Speaker That’s great. So you heard all this, he told you the story in a letter. In a letter? Yeah. How can you say that? You didn’t say that. Just that you would. Did you get did you say that that you got a letter? I think I said it. Yeah. Did I say that again?

Speaker I was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Speaker And Carol wrote frequently bringing me up to date on what was happening in her life.

Speaker And then tell me about what you heard from her while she was in New York. What was what was happening?

Speaker Well, again, led letter to a G.I. was crammed with.

Speaker What was happening is a lot was happening to her, then she moved into a boarding house kind of thing called the rehearsal club, I believe. I think, if I’m not mistaken, that it was the basis.

Speaker For Stagedoor, for Stagedoor. A friend of mutual friend of ours, also from UCLA. Eleanor Eby was already living there and got her into the.

Speaker Into the club. She she made the rounds.

Speaker Did you visit her?

Speaker Not at that time. No. No, I’m. I missed her in New York. I missed her in Los Angeles when I had to leave. She wasn’t in either place. So I. I don’t recall our first meeting after I was sprung from the army.

Speaker But you did visit her in New York from time to time.

Speaker Yes. I think I may see.

Speaker At the time, she did Once upon a Mattress, Delores was doing the pleasure of his company. And Carol invited us to dinner. Carol and Dawn were living in an apartment over an Italian restaurant on Eighth Avenue. And as I recall, Carol was never a great cook.

Speaker And her specialty was spaghetti, and we all thought it was great. And then she gave us her secrets. She left the windows open in the apartment so that we were getting the aromas of this Italian food coming through the window.

Speaker So we all thought we had a guy who had had a great dinner.

Speaker So were you there was one was mattress already up and running? Or was this before it opened opening?

Speaker I was not there for the opening. I had gone back to be with Dolores when the Tonys, the 1950 nine Tony Awards were were given because she was she had been nominated. And it was around that time that once upon a mattress was going to open. Carol invited me to a dress rehearsal. I did see that, but I did not go to the opening night.

Speaker Do you remember the dress rehearsal and what you did?

Speaker Well, I was bowled over. She was absolutely marvelous. And there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the beginning of something very, very big. I’m sure.

Speaker Yeah. And why do you think that role is so perfect for her? I mean, that did just sort of burst onto the scene in a lot of ways.

Speaker Well.

Speaker I think it had less to do with the book and score than it did with the leading lady, because it’s been done a number of times since, not as successfully.

Speaker I know you’re going to have. She’s not coming in right after me, right? OK.

Speaker See?

Speaker And how was she in terms of do you remember, Carol, feeling confident that it was gonna be a big success or what? Did she get nervous? Did she worry about it?

Speaker I don’t know if Carol has butterflies and gets nervous. I’m sure she she mustn’t under circum under certain circumstances. But I can’t imagine that she didn’t know that this also was the beginning.

Speaker She’s not done. And she had to know that, that she was good in it.

Speaker And she certainly knew every night that people were enthralled with her. So I don’t think that.

Speaker I think she I think she had confidence that she was going somewhere with this.

Speaker And at this time, I think it was during this time that she and Don eventually separated. Is that right? Can you tell me when that was or what you heard?

Speaker I can’t tell you when Don and and Carol separated and Carol never discussed the reasons behind it.

Speaker I remain friends with both of them.

Speaker I did not see Don for quite a while after that. But after he moved back to Los Angeles and remarried, I saw him from time to time.

Speaker Were people surprised, though, in general or not? I mean, I.

Speaker I can’t remember if we were surprised or not about the split.

Speaker And later then, you also knew Joe Hamilton office.

Speaker Yes. Not as well as they had known Don, but like Joe very much. Very, very funny guy.

Speaker Can you tell me how many kids Carol had? And I just wondering how she sort of balanced her professional life and her family life and all that.

Speaker I thought, I know how many kids Joe would have, but I think when they married, he had already fathered eight children.

Speaker I know because in those days we sent telegrams. There was no such thing as ever natter and I sent her a telegram short just before the wedding, said, For God’s sake, don’t even shake his hand.

Speaker They had three girls.

Speaker She didn’t shake it. She shook his head. And how did you balance that? I mean, she was obviously incredibly busy, but she’s obviously still a dedicated mother. I just wonder how was that? Tricky things.

Speaker If it was she didn’t share that with me. I would see her at her home and and see the kids on occasion. It usually was very informal, very pleasant family situation. So I was unaware of any any problems I was unaware of.

Speaker The. Problem with Kerry.

Speaker Oh, even later on, I became aware of it much later. And at the time, she came out in People magazine. I was in Monroe, Louisiana, and just picked up a copy of People magazine and read the whole story there. I hadn’t realized that it had gone on that long or whatever, but I was immensely proud of her for taking that step. I think it probably helped a lot of other families.

Speaker Yeah, absolutely. Magazine. And that was the first that you were aware of what had been going on?

Speaker It was that was the first time that the People magazine article was the first time I was aware that the problem was that large.

Speaker That. That’s sad. The Herald did not share any of that.

Speaker Do you think that she didn’t? Is it is she a private person particularly, and at the same time, though, she she seems very willing to share her life with.

Speaker I mean, just as you say, the People magazine story and going on the dinosaur shows, since it’s interesting kind of that she is willing to very much, you know, put some of these stories out there where they can help people. But she wasn’t confiding in everyone she knew, obviously.

Speaker The answer to that is yes, but nobody is going to know what.

Speaker Can you talk about that? I mean, did you find that at all?

Speaker I mean, is that surprising? Were you surprised that she hadn’t told you any of that or did it make sense for her or. And, Carol, you knew.

Speaker I don’t recall what my feelings were at that time, except that, as I said, I was tremendously proud of the fact that she did it.

Speaker I’m an.

Speaker Did you see the dinosaur?

Speaker I saw the interview.

Speaker Again, I’m not I’m not sure if I saw the dinosaur interview at the time it was done. It is very possible that I saw sound bites on it later or something. Or reruns or you’re not really sure.

Speaker So you weren’t aware that Carol had been going through sort of a difficult time?

Speaker I certainly was not aware that she was going through that kind of a difficult time.

Speaker And how important was it for her? Do you think she was able to work with Kerry on several things? They acted together. And I’m just wondering how that must’ve been really meaningful for her, given everything they had been through. I don’t know if she ever talked about that. She did not. Did she ever talk about her experiences doing Hollywood arms with her during the war?

Speaker Yes, of course. That was Hollywood arms was very, very meaningful for both Carol and Kerry and. I never got to see it.

Speaker An interesting sideline to this is that the dolorous heart that I mentioned gave up a career in Hollywood in 1963 and became a cloistered Benedictine nun at the end of the Virginia Lotta’s in Connecticut.

Speaker And I got permission or she got permission for me to take her to see Hollywood arms from the we got permission from the Abbi’s for that. And Carol arranged for our tickets. And the show closed a week before we were scheduled to go. So we did not know. We did not see it. I was hopeful that they would tape the show and, you know, for television news or something. I don’t know that that ever happened.

Speaker Well, there is footage. We are trying to track it down and we find it all, you know.

Speaker But I think there was some talk that it was going to be done, has a special on TV, but I don’t think that it was it was ever done.

Speaker And wind and carry, her daughter has to wait before or after that, can you tell me?

Speaker Carrie passed away just before the play opened. I believe in Chicago. Prior to opening on Broadway. If I’m not mistaken, Carrie never got to see a performance.

Speaker Yeah, I think that’s right. It was a few months before. Exactly.

Speaker And that play.

Speaker Can you tell me what it was based on was based on her life for the apartment building on Wilcox Avenue.

Speaker And it was based on her memoir.

Speaker Her memoir, yes.

Speaker Tell me also.

Speaker I think I asked you on the phone a little. We were talking about how she and Joe Hamilton worked together and how they sort of what Joe’s role was in terms of running the set and handling things and and and Carol’s role and how they sort of complemented one another. Can you tell me.

Speaker I wasn’t really present at any of their professional work together when I would see them. I would be. At either their home on occasion or if I went to see a taping of the show or if I was lucky enough to get invited to the last taping of the season when they did those wonderful flip shows. The cast and crew would get together and do a devastating takeoff, devastating satire on the things that had happened during the season. And no one emerged unscathed doing that and they were absolutely hilarious.

Speaker Do you remember anything? I do. But I don’t think you can read it.

Speaker Well, a I don’t know where one of the.

Speaker What the hell with it?

Speaker You can always use it of one of them that I thought was so terribly funny.

Speaker And I believe Jim Nabors was in on it. And another actor, I don’t know who the other actor was, someone that appeared on the show or could be one of the dancers, or it could have been Harvey, for that matter. Scene that they had, the scene was like backstage and they were sitting on what looked like a boulder, a rock of some kind, and they were grousing about Carol and her absolute insistence upon props always throw, you know, shoving a prop in your face. Everything was props. And they were so sick and tired of it. And they went on and on and their complaint. And then they were called because they were needed on on stage. And they got up and lifted the rock and took it out. And it was a huge papier mâché penis.

Speaker Not for broad.

Speaker Yes. I’m sure that Gloria Swanson is still rolling in her grave from the satire they did on her.

Speaker Have you seen it many times. Satire, too? Yes. OK.

Speaker It’s unbelievable. Tell me some of your favorite since you went to several of the tapings. Can you remember any of that you saw live? Just.

Speaker I went so often, I can remember one thing when I was back in New York, when she was still doing The Garry Moore Show, and every Friday evening I was there on a on a project writing project. And so I was there for several weeks. And every Friday night I would go to the taping of The Garry Moore Show. She’d meet me at the stage, the entrance, and then we would walk through and she’d seat me on the audience. But as we walked through, the young pages were getting their assignments. They were all lined up. And as we walked by, Carol said, you, you and you dressing room three upstairs.

Speaker And any other sketches?

Speaker Well, I always like the Trudy Schmid Lappe character. She didn’t care for it as much as I did. And this critique, Trudy Schmidt, Olaf was the volunteer at the Hospital Volunteer Society lady who couldn’t get anything right. She was the one that would stand.

Speaker Tell us the story for a second, okay?

Speaker Trudy Smed Life was a character running character that she did on The Garry Moore Show and was a woman who was a volunteer worker in a hospital who couldn’t do anything right. She would be the one that would hand out books to read and she would hand out war and peace to a patient and then take a look at his chart and then take that back and give him a shorter book or she would stand on their oxygen tube. I was injured in an accident on New Year’s Eve 1961 and spent. Three and a half months at UCLA Medical Center recovering. Carol came out to see me.

Speaker And down the hall I heard this voice saying Dynasty. It’s Trudy Schmidle happen. We’re going to have fun, fun, fun.

Speaker She spent the afternoon with me and almost every member of the staff at UCLA.

Speaker Suddenly had a reason to see me. To find out how I was too late. However, I was the one on the bed.

Speaker They didn’t look at me.

Speaker Yeah, I was. I thought she did a hell of a job as Trudy.

Speaker I don’t know if she told me. I can’t remember. I don’t know why she wasn’t terribly fond of Trudy Lab.

Speaker And just sort of lastly, what what about her you think is what makes her so unique? Why is she just such a lasting star?

Speaker I think it has something to do with basic goodness.

Speaker I think it has a great deal to do with. The person that she has that.

Speaker People fall in love with.

Speaker The thing I adore about her is that she’s low maintenance. She is not.

Speaker A fussy primadonna type. And. She laughs at herself as much as she laughs at everyone else.

Speaker Very, very good person, a wonderful person to be around.

Speaker I remember.

Speaker When she and Joe were moving into their second home in Beverly Hills, it’s quite a large place and I was invited up for a tour of the house and the entry had a huge circular staircase going up to the second level. And we walked up and she plopped me in the middle of the landing and the rooms were all came off that one landing and there were lots of windows.

Speaker And so she said, just turn around and shoot and take a look. And I looked the 360 degree and got a Panorama view of Beverly Hills. And when I turned and faced her again, she was smiling, as she said. And many said, don’t cross your eyes.

Speaker That’s unbelievable. Yeah, it worked for her.

Speaker Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker And are you surprised, looking back in retrospect, that this this girl you looked across at UCLA that first day?

Speaker Thank God I didn’t look across that first day.

Speaker I’m.

Speaker No more complete because of her reilley. I would have hated to have missed her, at any rate, that’s for sure.

Speaker That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. I think so. Do you have any stories you would like to tell us that we have any?

Speaker No more penis stories, I’m sorry. Do you have any more?

Speaker I’m trying to think. I see stories of Carol.

Speaker Well, Carol tells wonderful stories. The thing is that. I do know once it at dinner at some restaurant in New York, we were just leaving and a woman from across the street saw her and dodging traffic and everything came running over to her and got there and said out of breath, Oh, Miss Burnett, I just had to tell you, we never see your show.

Speaker We never see your show. We always miss you.

Speaker And then turned around and walked out halfway down the street. The woman’s body went like this when she realized what she had said.

Speaker We laughed over that for a while.

Speaker People must have felt that they couldn’t hurt anyone, felt that they could come up to her.

Speaker She said, Oh, God, yes. Does anyone know Lou Chow’s in New York? It’s not there anymore. But it was on 14th Street and it was the noisiest restaurant in the world. We would go to Lou Chow’s after the Friday night taping in New York. And there was a little man that stood at the stage door as she told you this.

Speaker Just just talk to me.

Speaker Oh, I’m sorry.

Speaker There was a little man who stood at the stage door every Friday night with things in a paper sack. There were things that he had stolen. It had five and dimes during the week and he would thrust these into her hands. We got into a car and went to Lou Chow’s, where she would open her her treasure. I know that. Once he had had two glasses, two water glasses etched, one with the name of Carol and the other name with Julie, it was the time of their Carnegie Hall show and she opened this up, put them into her ears and said, it’s just a little place in the village, but they do nice work.

Speaker That same. It wasn’t the same with her dad. On another occasion, there are new chows.

Speaker A group of people came around the table after we were finished in New York, fans wait until your finished dinner before they come up in L.A. They come up at any time. They want to, but there might have been six or seven people. And she was very gracious to all of them. And they left one by one until there was one young man standing there all by himself. And he looked a little like that character who may worry. Do you know what I want? I mean. And he just kept smiling like that. We looked up at if he didn’t say anything. And finally, Carol did this and he said, you smiled at me on your way to the toilet. And she said, you smiled first.

Speaker Later, so good at the Q and A health. That’s what matters.

Speaker Oh, yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Speaker She was quick. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Great. Any other great stories? Oh, boy. I can’t see. I can’t.

Speaker I know we’ll do a sequel to the sequel.

Speaker Exactly. Two.

Speaker I’m curious to look at some behind this thing and you can look it here. I’m curious if she was surprised by her.

Speaker Pardon me. Carol herself was surprised by the success.

Speaker Oh, I can’t believe she was. I just can’t believe she was. I didn’t say that.

Speaker I can’t believe it.

Speaker Carol was. Ever surprised? By her fame, I think.

Speaker I think she knew. I think she had to know where she was going. It’s certainly possible that the fact that she was able to branch out and do other things like romantic leads and in films, quite heavy drama, like Friendly Fire.

Speaker That may have surprised her that she was offered the roles, but I don’t think the fact that she did them so well would have surprised her. I think she had great confidence in her and her talent.

Speaker And do you really think you know, that the the the girl who was living in that Willcocks apartment with Nanny thought she would end up where she did?

Speaker I think the little girl that lived with her nanny on Wilcox Avenue. Thought she was going somewhere, but I don’t think she thought that she was going as far. I think she thought of herself as Brenda Starr, who was a cartoon reporter, and so that she was going to be famous on that level. She was she was going to be accomplished on that level.

Speaker But I don’t think that she saw the Kennedy honors. I don’t think she saw eleven years of her own show or on all the Emmys. And I just.

Speaker Well, it was interesting, I went was back to see the moon over Buffalo and.

Speaker During the performance. Something happened backstage and a scene change wasn’t made. It was they were unable to make the change. The nightmare of any performer is being onstage all by yourself. You cannot ad lib with anybody who can’t keep it going, so to speak.

Speaker And I was in like the third row.

Speaker And I’m Carol. Kept it going all by herself. She followed a piece of dust or something along a railing, and she was standing out. She got laughs.

Speaker Aluminum.

Speaker Many people, I’m sure, didn’t think anything was amiss and then performance.

Speaker But I also don’t think that, Carol. Felt she wasn’t up to it. I just can’t believe that this was a fluke at all.

Speaker Part of a slip is being alive on television and letting the mistakes go or working them in to do what you’re doing.

Speaker It’s a good training ground.

Speaker Yeah, I think so.

Speaker There isn’t much difference then. Carol, we see up on the screen and feel we know Carol, you know, personally.

Speaker You sit and sing as loud.

Speaker Well, she’s not as broad at all. And she has absolutely terrific close sets.

Speaker But I do think that what you see is what you get, if you like. I think everybody would like her as a person. Anybody would like us. But they see up there, although it’s not the same lady. Know it’s not the same actress, at any rate. Not the same performer.

Speaker There was another story that was just came online, but it’s gone again.

Speaker Well.

Speaker You know, I was just before you asked about that.

Speaker Being surprised by her fame or anything like that.

Speaker So when you’re my age, you won’t be able to leave.

Speaker That’s. I think so.

Speaker So, hey, thank you all. This is Ben.

Speaker Oh, yes.

Speaker To get him to be quiet.

Speaker It didn’t you.

Speaker I can’t get it. I need quiet. Oh, thank you so much. Just 10 more seconds. And tone deaf mute interview. I can drink.

Speaker So I had no trace of him.

Speaker OK. Do you mind just coming back?

Speaker But again, this is just. She didn’t she never talked to me about it. Yeah.

Speaker Do you mind just saying what happened with the suit? What. What the story was.

Speaker Well, I. The Enquirer printed a story that she was in her cups at a restaurant in New York or Washington, D.C. and another patron was Henry Kissinger, and that she had been boisterous and had traipsed over to see him.

Speaker And which, of course, she had not done. And she figured, I guess, that it was time that somebody just said no more. This is enough.

Speaker And how long did her what did she do? She she decided she decided to say she.

Speaker She sued the National Enquirer and she won.

Speaker And that was a it wasn’t like Landmark. Never.

Speaker I’m. Wait. Had not too many sue. And at least in those days, not too many people sued and and won.

Speaker Most people didn’t bother and just waited for it to get swept under the carpet.

Speaker But I don’t know what the judgment was, but it was a judgment that she turned over to a charity that she supported, I believe.

Speaker Why do you think that particular story was so? That was the one that she just said?

Speaker I don’t know, except that Carol doesn’t drink.

Speaker You know, if she has a glass of wine or two, a dinner, that is it. Even a college. When we were all experimenting, we experimented with alcohol, you see. Oh. And this was not part of her act at all. So I think that she just was.

Speaker I guess standing up for the people that couldn’t fight back.

Speaker And it wasn’t. I mean, I wonder if it was particularly upsetting for her because it worked. Both of her parents had.

Speaker Yes, both of them both. Both Carol’s parents were alcoholic.

Speaker So do you think that might have also been sort of a push the button or anything that may have pushed a button?

Speaker I hadn’t thought of it that it may have pushed a button.

Speaker I think that she was just being.

Speaker Very realistic and saying these people have to be stopped.

Dick Deneut
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-d50ft8f49c, cpb-aacip-504-5q4rj4995v
"Dick Deneut , Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). May 17, 2007 ,
(1 , 1). Dick Deneut , Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Dick Deneut , Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). May 17, 2007 . Accessed May 31, 2023


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