Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: This Time Together by Carol Burnett

This Time Together is a memoir of various stories from Carol Burnett's life. The idea for the book came from a touring show she did by the same name where she would just allow audience members to ask questions and she would answer them. Over the years, certain questions were asked more frequently than others and she wanted a way to share her favorite stories with her children in later years, so she decided to write them down. She begins with her childhood, living with her grandma (Nanny) and moving from Texas to California. I loved the story about her sister, Christine, and the parakeet she received for her birthday one year, Tweety. Tweety became Carol's mother's best pal, and repeated many of the things she would frequently say, such as ," Pretty Bastard!" and, "Where the hell have you been?" She goes on to tell about how a kind man saw her perform while she was attending UCLA, and when he discovered she wanted to go to New York to pursue musical theater he gave her a 5 year loan of $1000  to get her there on the condition that she pa it back with no interest, that she help others get started in the future, and that she never reveal his identity. She talks about auditioning for shows and getting her first steady job on a weekly variety show. There are many funny instances she recounts along the way, including how her notorious Tarzan yell saved her from a mugger once. She talks about how she met and married her two husbands, having her daughters, her success in Once Upon A Mattress and more. She give the most details about what most people nowadays know her for - The Carol Burnett Show - with funny stories about the cast and crew as well as her favorite skits and jokes from the show. All in all, the book is a lighthearted look at the life of a great performer and some of the amazing experiences she was lucky enough to have.

Carol Burnett has always been a bit of an idol of mine since I was a kid and first watched the movie Annie. As I went on to be a theater nerd in my teenage years, she was nothing short of a super star who we all emulated everyday. She is a wonderful performer, and an extremely kind and funny woman to boot. Listening to her read this memoir to me was a real treat and it was just what I hoped for when I picked it up. Having read a few memoirs of performers from this generation now, I'm constantly struck by how humble they are about all their successes. It's so refreshing compared to the attitudes of many stars today. Talented people who performed from the 1950s to the 1970s seem to be much more like normal people who are thankful for their incredible luck at being able to do something that they loved for their livelihood, and it just endears them all the more. Even if you aren't familiar with Carol Burnett's repertoire, I would recommend this book. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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