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Carol Burnett Explains How She “Bombed” On ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ Just Before Elvis Presley

Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Carol Burnett was a powerhouse in the entertainment industry. A triple threat – actor, singer, comedian – she worked her way up to legendary status, eventually hosting her own television show, “The Carol Burnett Show.” However, she did feature on other television shows, including “The Ed Sullivan Show.” In a recent interview, she explained how she absolutely “bombed” one of her visits to the show, having to perform before the King of Rock and Roll himself.

Burnett was slotted to perform before Presley

Elvis Presley performing with a band.
Elvis Presley, rock and roll sensation, as he rehearses with his band for “The Ed Sullivan Show.” (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

The Ed Sullivan Show‘ ran for 24 seasons from 1948 to 1971, thanks to its popularity as a television variety show. Considering it was so highly watched, a lot of big names guest starred on the show. Burnett starred on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show‘ seven times in her career, so she was bound to end up working the same day as other important figures in entertainment. Joining ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” she explained how she starred on the show the same day as Elvis Presley and how things didn’t exactly run smoothly.

In the interview, she explained how the night featuring Presley went down. “I was on when Elvis was on, when he was in the army. And they did a whole big thing when he was in the army on the stage,” she said. “And they put me on first. Nobody wanted to see me. It was Elvis. ‘Where the hell is Elvis?’ I bombed. Oh my god, it was terrible. It was awful.”

Despite her part on the show having bombed, Burnett said that the King of Rock and Roll was a pleasure to talk to. “I met him, he was very sweet,” she said. “And I got his autograph for my kid sister.”

He inspired her own songwriting

Carol Burnett performing.
Carol Burnett appears on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on August 11, 1957, where she performed “I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles.” (Photo Credit: CBS / Getty Images)

It turns out that Burnett took some inspiration from Presley for her own songwriting, though hers came in the format of a parody. She said that her song, “I Made A Fool Of Myself Over John Foster Dulles” was inspired by the King and written about the former US Secretary of State. Burnett described Dulles, who was in office from 1953 to 1959, as “dull” and as someone who “never smiled.”

She explained how Presley led her to write this song, saying, “I was doing a special material song that a friend of mine wrote called ‘I Made A Fool Of Myself Over John Foster Dulles.’ Everybody was going crazy over Elvis so he wrote this song about this young girl going crazy over John Foster Dulles.” She performed the parodic love song on “The Jack Paar Tonight Show,” another popular late-night television talk show, and eventually repeated her performance for Dulles himself.

The song became quite the talk of the town

Headshot of Carol Burnett.
Carol Burnett on March 14, 2024, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo Credit: Steve Granitz / FilmMagic / Getty Images)

Little did Burnett know the song would become a smash among audiences. She ended up performing it on “The Ed Sullivan Show” as well, and it became her apparent “love” for Dulles became quite the topic of conversation. It spread so much that Dulles was even approached about it and asked exactly what was going on between them on “Meet the Press.” Burnett watched his response on television, remembering his response saying, “I make it a policy never to discuss matters of the heart in public.”

More from us: Iconic Facts About Madonna – The ‘Material Girl’

At 90 years old, Burnett has plenty of stories to share about her time in entertainment, and we love to reminisce alongside her.

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!