Carol Burnett may be turning 90, but she doesn’t feel it inside.
“I feel like I’m 11!” the comedic legend tells Page Six exclusively in a new interview.
Burnett is set to be feted with a TV special titled “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love,” which was filmed last month but airs Wednesday, April 26 — her actual birthday — on NBC.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked by the evening,” she shares. “It was incredible. It’s not a birthday party. It’s not a roast. It’s a variety show.”
“The Carol Burnett Show” ran for 11 seasons.Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images
The soon-to-be nonagenarian is best known for “The Carol Burnett Show,” which aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978. The variety show also starred Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner and featured costumes by Bob Mackie.
For more Page Six you love …
Sadly, Burnett doesn’t think the groundbreaking show would be able to air today.
“I don’t think a network would go for what we did,” she tells us. “We had a 28-piece live orchestra, we had 12 dancers, we had two guest stars a week and Bob Mackie designed — get this — 60 to 75 costumes a week, everything everybody wore in all the sketches and all the musical numbers, on and on and on.
Burnett lampooned “Gone with the Wind” in a memorable 1976 sketch.Getty Images
“And no network today would spend that kind of money. The money that it would cost today would be astronomical. So they’re not gonna go for it. And they, you know, they feel that variety is dead, which I don’t believe it is,” the “Annie” star continues.
“There are many people who could do a variety show, but … they couldn’t do what we did because of the cost. That’s the problem. That’s why there aren’t any shows like ours or Dean Martin or any of those, you know, just can’t happen today.”
Burnett has unbelievably had two different people change the trajectory of her life.
Bob Mackie designed all the costumes for “The Carol Burnett Show.”Getty Images
The first was an anonymous benefactor who paid her tuition to go to UCLA in the 1950s.
“It was $42 or $43. That’s all,” she recalls. “And we couldn’t, we couldn’t afford it. And so this one day I — in our little mailbox thing at the building where we lived — it was an envelope, with my name typewritten on it and the address and everything, and I opened it up, and there was a $50 bill.
“And to this day, I don’t know who gave that to me. I have no idea because nobody in our neighborhood that had that — believe me — had that kind of money.”
Burnett first became a star appearing in “Once Upon a Mattress” on Broadway in 1959.Bettmann Archive
The second was a man who saw Burnett perform a musical comedy sketch at a party while she was attending college and asked her what she wanted to do with her life.
When the Texas native replied that she wanted to go to New York and do musical comedy but could not afford it, the man came back with a proposition.
“He said, ‘I believe in you. I’m going to lend you $1,000,’” she remembers.
Burnett had a memorable turn as the evil Miss Hannigan in “Annie” in 1982.©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
“$1,000 then would be like somebody giving me $100,000 today. It was just, like, unheard of. And he said, ‘It’s a loan. You pay it back if you can within five years. You must use the money to go to New York, and you must never reveal my name. And if you are successful, you must help other people out.’”
Burnett was able to pay him back within the five years and has never revealed his name.
Plus, she notes, “I have done other things for people — scholarships and so forth — to pay it forward. But those are my two unbelievable big breaks.”
Burnett appeared in the final season of “Better Call Saul” in 2022.©AMC/courtesy Everett Collection
Despite entering her ninth decade, Burnett is not showing any signs of slowing down.
She appeared in the final season of “Better Call Saul” last year and filmed an upcoming Apple TV+ miniseries, “Mrs. American Pie,” with Kristen Wiig, Allison Janney and Laura Dern.
“I’m just so fortunate, at this age, to be able to be getting in the sandbox and playing with people,” she says.