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The actress, who won five of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honors over the course of her career, told the audience at the Beverly Hilton that The Carol Burnett Show, on which she starred for 11 years, “couldn’t be done today” because the cost would be “too prohibitive.”
“My first love growing up was the movies,” she said at the top of her speech, noting that she saw six to eight movies a week with her grandmother, who raised her, but that once she got a television set as a teenager, her love changed. “What fascinated me was the way that stars on the screen could make people laugh, or cry, or both. And I wished and I hoped that maybe, just maybe, someday I could do the same thing. Those childhood dreams came true sometimes on the big screen but mostly on television on a half-hour comedy show.”
Burnett reminisced about the era of television that she was a part of, and noted how it has changed. “Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about being young again and doing it all over and then I bring myself up short to see how incredibly fortunate I was to be there at the right time,” Burnett said, “because what we did then couldn’t be done today. The cost alone would be prohibitive.”
Burnett shouted out the fellow performers she met on The Carol Burnett Show as well as the crew and major creatives, calling the show a “family” for 11 years. “Nothing like our show — and I should add other variety shows at the time — could see the light of day today…today’s audience might not know what they’re missing,” Burnett said. “Here’s to reruns and YouTube.”
What remains the same, she said, was the “belief that we’ve been able to do something special.” She then dedicated the award to “all those who made my dream come true and all out there who share my love for television…. I’m just happy that our show happened when it did.”
The HFPA has envisioned the Carol Burnett Award as a companion honor to the Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award, which lauds lifetime achievements of film professionals and has been awarded to Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Lauren Bacall, Anthony Hopkins, George Clooney and more. This year’s Cecil B. DeMille recipient is Jeff Bridges.
Introducing Burnett, Steve Carell said, “She’s one of the most revered, respected people in show business. It’s been said that she makes Tom Hanks look like an asshole. I didn’t say it, but it’s been said.”
Carell also joked that she was competing for her namesake award with fellow “nominees” Christian Bale, Charlize Theron and Antonio Banderas. “And the winner…you know what, you know what? I hate to root for one nominee over the others, but I really think Carol Burnett should win this,” Carell joked.
“For more than 50 years, comedy trailblazer Carol Burnett has been breaking barriers while making us laugh,” HFPA president Meher Tatna said in the announcement of the award. “She was the first woman to host a variety sketch show, The Carol Burnett Show. She was also the first woman to win both the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and Kennedy Center Honors. And now we add another first to her running list: the first recipient — and namesake — of the new Golden Globe top honor for achievement in television, the Carol Burnett Award. We are profoundly grateful for her contributions to the entertainment industry and honored to celebrate her legacy forever at the Golden Globes.”
In addition to her Globes and Mark Twain Prize, Burnett has received five Emmys, five American Comedy Awards, a Peabody Award, eight People’s Choice Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Women in Film Crystal Award over the course of a career spanning more than six decades.
The 76th annual Golden Globe Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton on Jan. 6, aired at 5 p.m. on NBC.
Tune in after the telecast for The Hollywood Reporter and Twitter’s official live aftershow. The Golden Globe Awards ceremony is produced by Dick Clark Productions, which shares a parent company with The Hollywood Reporter.
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