Carol Burnett's Signature Ear Tug Had An Incredibly Special Hidden Meaning

As a pioneer for women in comedy, Carol Burnett has forever cemented herself in show business history, with a career dating back to the 1950s. After a few early television appearances, Burnett ventured into Broadway and soon scored a Tony nomination for her role in "Once Upon a Mattress" in 1959. She moved on to television with "The Garry Moore Show" and appearances on the sitcoms of her friend Lucille Ball. Finally in 1967, "The Carol Burnett Show" made its debut, along with costars Lyle Waggoner, Vicki Lawrence, and Harvey Korman (via IMDb).

It was on "The Carol Burnett Show" that Burnett brought out beloved characters, sketches, and iconic lines for which she is best known. These included a "Gone With the Wind" sketch wherein Burnett parodies the dress made from curtains by leaving the curtain rod on the dress, and the recurring sketch "The Family," which led to a spin-off sitcom. Each airing of "The Carol Burnett Show" included personal connections with the studio audience and people watching from home as well, including a special member of Burnett's family.

Carol Burnett was raised by her grandmother

At the end of each episode of "The Carol Burnett Show," Carol Burnett sang the line "I'm so glad we had this time together. Just to have a laugh or sing a song." At this part of the show, Burnett would also tug on her earlobe. According to Biography, when Burnett landed her first television gig, she told her grandmother that she would be on TV. Her grandmother replied, "Well, you gotta say hello to me." Their solution was that Burnett would tug on her earlobe as a signal to her grandmother, whom she called Nanny. Burnett continued to send the special message even after her grandmother passed away in 1967 (via Cheatsheet).

When speaking to NPR, Burnett explained that her parents both struggled with alcohol addictions. Burnett was left in the care of her grandmother when her parents moved to Hollywood. After they divorced, Burnett and her grandmother moved there as well. They moved into the same low-income apartment building as her mother, but Burnett mostly stayed in her grandmother's one-room apartment in the building during the 1940s.

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Carol Burnett has published memoirs about her life

Carol Burnett's story is definitely one of rags to riches. In 1986, she published a memoir titled "One More Time," detailing her upbringing with her grandmother and mother in that small apartment building. She released another book in 2010, titled "This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection," which focuses on her time in the entertainment business thus far and the later years of her life, including her daughter's death from cancer and her own divorces over the years. Though she remains modest — even hesitant to talk about her success — she does keep (some of) her Emmy, Golden Globe, People's Choice, and Tony awards on display in her home (per The New York Times).

Though she does not boast about her accolades, she still served as an inspiration for future women in the entertainment business. Comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler honored Burnett at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2016 (posted on YouTube). Now 89, Burnett is still a living legend of the screen and stage.