FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Carol Burnett: The Mark Twain Prize
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 24th from 7:00-9:00pm on WTVP-HD 47.1.
- Prize Will Be Awarded at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts at
a Special Gala Performance -
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will present the 16th annual Mark
Twain Prize for American Humor to Carol Burnett on October 20, 2013 in the Kennedy Center Concert
Hall. The Prize, which is named to honor one of the world’s greatest humorists, will be given at a
special gala performance featuring some of the biggest names in comedy, and will be taped for
broadcast nationwide on PBS. Carol Burnett: The Mark Twain Prize
airs on Sunday, Nov. 24 from 7-9 p.m on WTVP-HD 47.1.
The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recognizes people who have had an impact on
American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist Samuel
Clemens, best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist, and creator of characters,
Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many
more with his uncompromising perspective on social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the
great truth of humor when he said “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
“From her television program and appearances, as well as her performances on Broadway
and in film, Carol Burnett has entertained generations of fans with her vibrant wit and hilarious
characters,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “We are delighted to pay tribute
to this unique and beloved entertainer.”
Upon learning she will receive the Mark Twain Prize, Carol Burnett remarked, “I can’t
believe I’m getting a humor prize from the Kennedy Center. It’s almost impossible to be funnier
than the people in Washington.”
Carol Burnett, award-winning actress and best-selling author, is widely recognized
by the public and her peers for her comedic and dramatic roles on television, film, and Broadway,
most notably The Carol Burnett Show. Named in 2007 by TIME magazine as one of the
“100 Best Television Shows of All Time,” The Carol Burnett Show ran for 11 years, averaged
30 million viewers per week, and received 25 Emmy Awards, making it one of the most-honored shows
in television history.
As a highly acclaimed actress, Carol has been honored with Emmys, Golden Globes,
People’s Choice Awards, the Horatio Alger Award, an Ace Award, and the Peabody. A Kennedy Center
Honoree, Carol has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was inducted into the
Television Hall of Fame. In 2013, the City of Los Angeles honored Carol by naming the intersection
of Highland Ave. and Selma directly adjacent Hollywood High School, Carol’s alma mater, Carol
Burnett Square and her star appears on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born in San Antonio, Texas in 1933, Carol, her mother, and grandmother moved to a
less-than-glamorous section of Hollywood in the late 1930s. Raised in a small studio apartment by
her grandmother, but with no financial means, Carol could only dream of college. After receiving
an anonymous donation of $50 to pay for her tuition to UCLA, Carol enrolled. While studying
journalism, Carol took an acting class, and the rest is history.
After moving to New York City, Carol staged a musical revue, featuring her
out-of-work roommates from The Rehearsal Club, a theatrical boarding house, performing material
by unemployed writers and composers. Soon, offers for summer stock and 13 weeks' work on Paul
Winchell's TV show followed. While performing at The Blue Angel nightclub, she was spotted by
talent bookers from both The Jack Paar Show and The Ed Sullivan Show and was
invited to perform her infamous rendition of "I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles” on
television. Shortly thereafter, Carol landed the leading role of “Princess Winifred” in the
original Broadway musical production of Once Upon a Mattress. In 1959, after guest spots
on Garry Moore's morning TV show, she became a permanent cast member on The Garry Moore Show,
taping the show during the day and performing Mattress at night for the remainder of its
Broadway run. Carol remained a regular on Garry Moore for the next four years.
During this period, Carol met Julie Andrews and the two became close friends. After
the duo appeared in their Emmy-winning special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, CBS took
notice of this emerging new talent and signed her to a 10-year contract. On September 11, 1967,
The Carol Burnett Show premiered on CBS. With a talented ensemble featuring Harvey Korman,
Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner, costumes by Bob Mackie and music by Buz Kohan and Ken
and Mitzie Welch, the show became a hit. Guest stars included many of the greatest performers from
music, stage, and screen including Lucille Ball, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Stewart, Gloria
Swanson, Ronald Reagan, Betty White, Cher, Jim Nabors, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli,
The Carpenters, Rock Hudson, Dick Van Dyke, Alan Alda, and many, many more. Carol’s portrayal of
“Starlet O’Hara” in “Went with the Wind,” a parody of Gone with the Wind, is always counted
among the top 10 greatest moments in television history. The “curtain-rod” dress, as it is known,
now resides at The Smithsonian. In 2012, Time Life released The Carol Burnett Show on DVD
and set a record, selling more than four million DVDs in six months.
After the show concluded in 1978, Carol immersed herself in numerous projects. She
wrote three New York Times Bestsellers: Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story,
Laughter and Reflection, for which she received a Grammy nomination for best spoken word, and
her autobiography, One More Time. Carol added playwright to her credits when she and her
daughter, Carrie Hamilton, wrote Hollywood Arms. Sadly, Carrie passed away four months prior
to the play’s Broadway premiere. Directed by Hal Prince, Hollywood Arms premiered on
Broadway on October 31, 2002.
Carol’s film credits include playing “Miss Hannigan” in the film version of the
musical, Annie, directed by John Huston, Noises Off, directed by Peter Bogdanovich,
A Wedding, directed by Robert Altman, and Four Seasons, directed by Alan Alda. On
Broadway, Carol starred in Fade Out, Fade In, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
with music by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim's musical revue Putting It Together, and Ken Ludwig’s
farce Moon Over Buffalo starring with Philip Bosco. Carol produced and starred in numerous
television specials and guest starred on several television series, including Glee, Hot in
Cleveland, and Law and Order: SVU. She also starred in the television series Fresno
and Carol & Co., as well as the highly acclaimed made-for-TV movies Friendly Fire
and Life of the Party: The Story of Beatrice. In 2005, she returned to her Once Upon a
Mattress roots, appearing in a television special, this time playing the evil “Queen Aggravain.”
When not performing, she enjoys spending time with her husband Brian, her two
daughters Erin and Jody, her grandsons, and her cat, Mabel. As a passionate supporter of the arts
and education, she established several scholarships around the country, including “The Carol Burnett
Musical Theatre Competition” at her alma mater, UCLA, and the Carrie Hamilton Foundation, to honor
her daughter’s memory.
Each year the producers of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor cast a wide
net for the next recipient. The Prize recognizes people who have had an impact on American society
in ways similar to Mark Twain and input is sought from prior recipients, distinguished members
of the comedic community, and letters from the general public. A short list is compiled by the
Executive Producers and presented to a group comprised of representatives from the Kennedy Center
board of trustees, as well as Kennedy Center senior management and programming staff.
Previous recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize are Richard Pryor (1998),
Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily
Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007),
George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), and Ellen DeGeneres
(2012). The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor has been broadcast nationally every year since the
Kennedy Center established the Prize in October 1998.
As recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Carol Burnett will receive
a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain* sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853–1940).
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial
to President Kennedy. It is the nation’s busiest performing arts facility and annually hosts more
than 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly 2 million; Center-related touring productions,
television, and radio broadcasts welcome 40 million more. Now in its 42nd season, the Center
presents performances of music, dance, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work;
and serves the nation as a leader in arts and arts management education.
The event is created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and
executive producers Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, and Cappy McGarr.
General Dynamics is the Presenting Sponsor of the Mark Twain Prize. Support for
the Mark Twain Production is provided by American Airlines. For more information about the Kennedy
Center visit www.kennedy-center.org. Please
visit facebook.com/kennedycenter for
behind-the-scenes news, special offers, advance notice of events and other related Kennedy Center
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at (309) 495-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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