Carol Burnett’s legendary TV looks

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On Sunday night, comedic legend Carol Burnett will be awarded the Golden Globes’ inaugural award for special achievement in television, named — what else? — the Carol Burnett Award.

Burnett took home her first Globe in 1968 and has since won four more, with an additional 11 nominations. Much of that recognition came for her classic variety series, “The Carol Burnett Show,” which ran from 1967 to 1978.


In honor of Burnett’s latest triumph, take a look back at seven of her namesake show’s most memorable costumes, all designed by the incomparable Bob Mackie.

The ‘Gone With The Wind’ dress (1976)

The show’s most iconic costume is undoubtedly that of Starlett O’Hara in a parody of the 1939 Civil War epic, which featured a makeshift version of the film’s curtain dress. “I saw it in the window, and I just couldn’t resist it,” Starlett famously proclaimed to huge laughs.

The script originally called for just the drapes to hang on Burnett, but at the last minute, Mackie came up with the idea to include the rod. “That one’s going to be carved on my gravestone,” he told USA Today.

The Charwoman (1967)

Originally created for a 1963 special, the charwoman — an obsolete term for a cleaning lady — performed a mock striptease with her raggedy skirt, apron, sweater and mop cap. The character, who sang but never spoke, became a signature of Burnett’s and was immortalized in animated form for the show’s opening credits.

Norma Desmond (1972)

Burnett riffed on Gloria Swanson’s “Sunset Boulevard” character Norma Desmond, a faded silent-film star, wearing a vintage silk and velvet gown with torn fishnets. “I looked like someone straight out of a Gothic novel, with boobs down to my belly button,” Burnett wrote in her 2016 memoir “In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox.” “Instead of padding, Bob filled the boobs with rice, which made them move like real ones whenever I twirled around.”

Mrs. Wiggins (1976)

This dense secretary was written as an old lady, but Mackie suggested aging her down so she could sport a skintight, knee-length skirt that would force Burnett to create a hilarious waddle walk. “I put the highest heel on her I could get,” Mackie said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, “so by the time you get your heels up and your knees in, and you stick your butt out, you’re ready to go.”

Queen Elizabeth (1969)

Left: Photo by Punkin/Whacko Inc/Kobal/REX/Shutte­rstock. Right: CBS/Getty

Burnett’s version of the queen was prone to having hissy fits and calling a palace guard a “hollowed-out little creep!” But visually, she was all royal glamour in get-ups like this Mackie creation. “Because of my resemblance to Queen Elizabeth, people in Canada and Australia weighed in with opposite opinions,” Burnett wrote in “In Such Good Company.” “I’m not sure anymore which country got a kick out of these sketches and which county was ‘not amused.’ ”

Eunice Harper Higgins (1974)

Going for a Tennessee Williams vibe, Mackie dressed the fiery housewife in a printed chiffon evening gown likely made in the 1930s, that he bought at a secondhand store and altered into a daytime look. Burnett wore it on the show so often that it was “all patched underneath [with] a million patches because it was falling apart,” Mackie told the Television Academy Foundation.

Joan Crawford (1976)

Burnett appeared as Joan Crawford in spoofs of her movies “Torch Song” and “Mildred Pierce,” shoulder pads and all. “Once I got into Bob Mackie’s drag — he even made false eyebrows out of real hair because Crawford had these wonderful heavy eyebrows — I felt like I looked like her,” Burnett told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s funny: When I put on the stuff, that always gave me my character. It’s like when you see a little kid on Halloween and they are going to be a cowboy, a pirate, whatever — they’re the best actors. They act out the way they are dressed.”



By Gregory E. Miller

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