Emmy Throwback: Carol Burnett Recalls Winning Her First Statuette

Carol Burnett Recalls Winning - P 2015
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Carol Burnett Recalls Winning - P 2015

"I didn't expect it, and it blew me away," she says of beating Judy Garland and other nominees.

This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Carol Burnett knows a thing or two about the Emmys. She herself has won six times out of 22 nominations -- her latest nom was in 2009 for a guest appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. And in 11 seasons from 1967 to 1978, her variety series The Carol Burnett Show racked up 25 wins.

Burnett, who was born in Texas but moved to Hollywood as a child, studied theater arts at UCLA before decamping for New York to pursue an acting career. Her big break came in the late 1950s, when she was cast in the off-Broadway production of Once Upon a Mattress and the CBS variety series The Garry Moore Show. By 1962, at just 29 years old, she scored her first Emmy for Garry Moore. "I didn't expect it and it blew me away," says Burnett, who beat out Judy Garland, among other nominees.

Burnett credits Moore with giving her a key piece of advice that she employed when she got her own show: "Make it a true rep company, even if it had my name on it," says Burnett. "I remember we were reading a sketch written by Doc Simon [Neil Simon] and there was a really funny line, and Garry said, 'Give that line to Durward [Kirby].' When someone said he should say it himself, Garry said, 'Durward could say it better and as long as the show is good, I'm going to get all the credit.' "