The Carol Burnett Show welcomed countless Hollywood icons as guests over its 11-season run. Superstars including Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Cher, and Lana Turner all had a turn getting laughs with Carol Burnett.
One bona fide movie star from the 40s appeared on Burnett’s show in season 1. While fans would expect her to carry herself with constant sophistication, this actor had a habit that didn’t seem to match her feminine image.
Betty Grable had expensive legs
Burnett recalled Grable’s popularity as a film star, where she would often see Grable’s movies with her grandmother.
“Those 20th Centure Fox musicals starring Betty along with her various leading men, Tyrone Power, Dan Daily, John Payne… were always variations of the same plot,” Burnett wrote in her 2016 memoir In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox. But it didn’t matter because Betty was in them.”
The comedy legend was over the moon when she was able to book Grable as a guest in the first season of The Carol Burnett Show.
“Betty Grable, the servicemen’s favorite pinup girl during World War II,” Burnett raved. “Betty Grable, whose beautiful legs had been insured for $1,000,000 by Lloyds of London – was going to be a guest on my show!”
Martha Raye appeared with Betty Grable on ‘The Carol Burnett Show’
Grable wasn’t the only big name appearing on The Carol Burnett Show on that particular episode. Comedian Martha Raye was also guest starring, and had a solid friendship with Grable.
“That week in February 1968, our other guest was Martha Raye, one of America’s funniest comediennes,” Burnett wrote. “She and Betty had known each other for years and were good friends.”
Burnett noted that the two had excellent chemistry, which worked well in the sketch they would be performing.
“Martha, as usual, was over-the-top hysterical both off stage and on camera,” Burnett recalled. “Betty was equally funny in a much more subtle way. This week was the first time we did our soap opera takeoff, As the Stomach Turns.“
Betty Grable loved her soda
In her book, Burnett referenced a specific beverage that Grable continuously consumed during her stint on the show, bringing on an audible side effect.
“I remember Betty was a Coca-Cola addict,” Burnett shared, “drinking several Cokes a day, all that week, which resulted in unrestrained (I might say, loud) belching, which evidently was the outcome she was aiming for.”
Grable’s carbonated eruptions gave Ray the opportunity to hurl one of her famous zingers.
“Come showtime that Friday, Betty, Martha, and I were in our finale costumes waiting for the set to change,” Burnett explained. “Betty took a final swig of her Coke and came out with a doozy of a belch, causing Martha to pipe up, … ‘Betty, why don’t you just fart and save your teeth?’”
Clearly, the three stars enjoyed ribbing each other, and Burnett expressed her joy at working with them both.
“I lost it,” Burnett wrote. “Needless to say, I had a blast working with the two of them.”
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