Author: Carol Burnett (narrated by the author)
Publication Date: 4/6/10
Publisher: Random House Audio
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Blurb (GR): THIS TIME TOGETHER is 100 percent Carol Burnett – funny, irreverent, and irresistible.
Carol Burnett is one of the most beloved and revered actresses and performers in America. The Carol Burnett Show was seen each week by millions of adoring fans and won twenty-five Emmys in its remarkable eleven-year run. Now, in This Time Together, Carol really lets her hair down and tells one funny or touching or memorable story after another – reading it feels like sitting down with an old friend who has wonderful tales to tell.
In engaging anecdotes, Carol discusses her remarkable friendships with stars such at Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, and Julie Andrews; the background behind famous scenes, like the moment she swept down the stairs in her curtain-rod dress in the legendary “Went With the Wind” skit; and things that would happen only to Carol – the prank with Julie Andrews that went wrong in front of the First Lady; the famous Tarzan Yell that saved her during a mugging; and the time she faked a wooden leg to get served in a famous ice cream emporium. This poignant look back allows us to cry with the actress during her sorrows, rejoice in her successes, and finally, always, to laugh.
At the end of each episode of her eponymous show, Carol Burnett would sing "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together," a short tune written by her then-husband and executive producer Joe Hamilton, and then tug her ear as a reminder to her gran that she was thinking of her. The lyrics are, in part, as follows:
I'm so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just got started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.'
There's a time you put aside for dreamin',
And a time for things you have to do.
The time I love the best is in the evening
I can spend a moment here with you.
When the time comes that I'm feelin lonely,
And I'm feelin' ohooooo - so blue,
I just sit back and think of you, only,
And the happiness still comes through.
Though The Carol Burnett Show was before my time, my mother was is a huge fan of Ms. Burnett so I've been familiar with her since childhood. Of course, it certainly doesn't hurt that she played Miss Hannigan in one of my childhood movie addictions, Annie. I knew of Burnett's humor but I was in the dark about most of her work and her personal life, so when I saw my sister rate This Time Together highly and sing its praises, I moved it higher on my to-read list. I plowed through this audiobook, listening to Burnett tell short anecdotes about her life. The time she was on her favorite soap opera, All My Children, and Elizabeth Taylor dressed up as a cleaning woman for a scene and surprised Burnett, who had no idea and had to play it off. The time she and Julie Andrews pretended to make out in a hotel hallway to surprise their friend, only to have Lady Bird Johnson be the one to catch them. The time she had to do her infamous Tarzan yell to confirm her identity in order to buy stockings at Bergdorf's when she forgot her ID. The otherworldly bond she had with a young girl dying of cancer. I listened to her tell her own stories over the last few days and then I watched some of the corresponding clips from her show and her television specials that I could readily find online. The last one I watched was the final ten minutes or so of The Carol Burnett Show, in which she gets autographs from her costars, talks about why she was bowing out when the show had been renewed for a twelfth season, and then she sings the closing song. Cue the silent tears running down my face. I know how much those years and those people meant to her after spending about five or six hours with her through her audiobook so it made me, an absolute bystander, imagine what she must've been feeling at that moment.
This Time Together isn't a memoir, rather it is a collection of what I imagine must be 2-4 page stories. They generally follow a linear timeline and it often one person will be lifted from a prior story and then an offshoot will occur, creating a natural flow.
Carol Burnett is a class act. She was ( is?) somewhat shy and awkward and oh-so starstruck by many celebrities who I'd consider her equals in the fame department. She blubbered and forgot her husband's name when she met John Steinbeck. She stepped in paint and ran away when she was introduced to Jimmy Stewart. It is apparent from her stories (and in her voice) that she has genuine respect for the work people do but probably even moreso, for what they are like as a person. At one point in the book, she tells of meeting a young girl who is dying of cancer and the special bond the two of them formed in a very short period of time, after which Burnett discusses her feelings about the universe. As the book goes forward, passing through time, the stories become less hilariously entertaining and more a reminder that Burnett is a real person in her late seventies. Several times during This Time Together, pivotal life events are glossed over or relegated to a one sentence mention--her two divorces come to mind. However, when it comes to the death of her daughter, an entire story is included. I felt a bit of a disconnect in the flow at that point but it would've been impossible to not include such an earth-shattering experience in a book of reflections. She ponders whether she'd like to be young again and thinks about how great a shake at it she's had. I can't help but agree. On the scales, the happy memories seem to far outweigh the sad ones and that's really all we can ask for.
This book, specifically this audiobook, is for the people who love hearing people tell stories, for those curious about the personalities of many movie and television stars, and especially for people who realize the importance of preserving memories and life experiences for friends, family, and posterity's sake. It was an absolute pleasure to listen to, so for that, I'm giving it 5/5 stars. I can only aspire to be the lovely person Carol Burnett is.