You would think that CBS, the network that aired Carol Burnett’s legendary variety show for 11 seasons, would jump at the chance to host her “90 Years of Laughter + Love” birthday special. But surprisingly, they declined the opportunity. In fact, they also passed on her 50th-anniversary special in 2017.

“We first went to CBS, but they passed,” Burnett revealed. “I did my show with them and all my specials, so naturally we went to them.”

Fortunately, NBC stepped in and bought the special, which turned out to be a massive hit, drawing in an impressive 7.6 million viewers.

With its success, it is now predicted to receive an Emmy nomination. Burnett couldn’t be happier with NBC’s support. She said, “NBC couldn’t have been greater. They’ve been so supportive right from the get-go.”

When asked for a comment, a representative for CBS declined to respond.

A Star-Studded Guest List

The “90 Years of Laughter + Love” special, which premiered on April 26, featured a star-studded guest list.

The lineup included icons such as Julie Andrews, Cher, Katy Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, Billy Porter, Jane Lynch, Bernadette Peters, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Lily Tomlin, Laura Dern, Steve Carell, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Taraji P. Henson.

Unplanned Laughter: A Signature of the Variety Show

During the event, Burnett also reminisced about her variety show days and the moments of uncontrollable laughter on set. Contrary to popular belief, these hilarious breaks were never planned


“It was never on purpose. It was never planned – and it was usually Tim Conway’s fault,” she admitted. “He would go off script, and poor Harvey Korman didn’t have a chance.

Harvey always prided himself on being serious about his comedy. He hated himself when Tim got him. But people think that’s all we did, but it wasn’t. It was a very small percentage of the time that that happened. It’s just people remember it because it was so delicious.”

Regrets and Dreams

When asked if there was a role she regretted not getting over her decades-long career, Burnett humorously replied, “Cleopatra.” However, she did reveal that if she had stayed in New York and pursued Broadway, she would have loved to take on roles in productions like “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Mame,” and “Gypsy” due to their brilliant scores and captivating stories.

A White Lotus Fan

Burnett also expressed her enthusiasm for the television series “The White Lotus.” Like many viewers, she was shocked by the fate of Tanya’s character at the end of Season 2. “I was like, ‘No, they’re not going to kill her?!’” she exclaimed.

Looking Ahead to the 100th Birthday

With humor and grace, Burnett shared her plans for her 100th birthday. She simply said, “I think I’m just going to be grateful.”

“Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love” is available to stream on Peacock.

Carol Creighton Burnett was born on April 26, 1933, at Nix Hospital in San Antonio, Texas,[the daughter of Ina Louise (née Creighton), a publicity writer for movie studios, and Joseph Thomas Burnett, a movie theater manager.

Her maternal grandparents were William Henry Creighton (1873–1918) and Mabel Eudora “Mae” Jones (1885–1967).] Her parents divorced in the late 1930s. Subsequently, both parents independently moved to Hollywood and Burnett moved with her grandmother to a one-room apartment near her mother.

They lived in an impoverished area of Hollywood, California, in a boarding house with Burnett’s younger half-sister Chrissie.