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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.

Mark Twain Prize honoree Carol Burnett

- 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 Facebook pages. Follow @kencen on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news, offers and more.

 

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For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of Programming, at (309) 495-0591 or linda.miller@wtvp.org

 


 

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