Carol Burnett Wins Mark Twain Prize for Humor

Carol Burnett Headshot - P 2012
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Carol Burnett Headshot - P 2012

The TV icon will be awarded the honor in October.

This year, the Kennedy Center has chosen Carol Burnett as the recipient of the 16th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The TV legend launched The Carol Burnett Show in 1967, and it ran for 11 seasons on CBS, scoring 25 Emmys; Burnett herself won six over the course of her career, not to mention eight Golden Globes, 12 People's Choice Awards and a Peabody (for the 1979 ABC movie Friendly Fire).

"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," Burnett said Tuesday in a statement.

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The award-winning showbiz resume of Burnett, 80, spans from Broadway to Hollywood; the actor-comedian got her big break in 1959 starring in Once Upon a Mattress on the Great White Way; she soon moved to the small screen, making appearances on The Garry Moore Show before headlining her eponymous variety program that spoofed the pop culture of the day and also included musical performances.

Burnett's film credits include The Four Seasons (1981), Annie (1982) and Horton Hears a Who! (2008); on TV, she has also appeared on the '90s sitcom Mad About You, for which she won an Emmy in a guest role, as well as Glee, Desperate Housewives, Law & Order; SVU and All My Children.

"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," said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein in a statement. "We are delighted to pay tribute to this unique and beloved entertainer."

Burnett will receive The Mark Twain Prize on Oct. 20 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington; a special will air Oct. 30 on PBS. Past recipients of the prize include Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Bill Cosby and George Carlin.