SAN ANTONIO – Ahead of Tuesday’s sold out one-woman show at the Tobin Center, comic legend Carol Burnett returned to her West Side roots Monday to visit her childhood home on West Commerce Street.
Born in San Antonio, Burnett lived there until the age of 7 when she and her grandmother moved to California.
But it was Burnett’s highly religious great-grandmother who she tried to make laugh but not with a joke.
“On Sundays, she opted not to speak, took a vow of silence,” Burnett said. “I was 4 or 5 and I’d try to tickle her to try to get a sound out of her, but she was stoic.”
At nearby Crockett Elementary, Burnett was a quiet, but a good student, she said. It wasn’t until her freshman year at the University of California Los Angeles when she did a light-hearted scene, that she heard an audience laugh for the first time.
“I thought, 'I think I kind of like doing this,'” Burnett said.
She went on to make millions laugh, earning numerous accolades for her comedic gift.
Spending part of her childhood on the West Side during the Depression, Burnett said, “It wasn’t anything that I felt underprivileged at all. I had a grandmother who loved me to death and I felt secure.”
“There was never any animosity that I ran into in the neighborhood," she said.
Now deemed historic, Carol Burnett’s home, now owned by American Sunrise, the nonprofit founded by Henry and Mary Alice Cisneros, is used for special events, with the after-school program for at-risk children in another house across the street.
When asked what she would tell those children, Burnett said, she was reminded of what acting legend James Stewart told his twin daughters before they left for college: “Always remember to be kind to people.”
A lifelong believer in laughter, Burnett said, “There’s nothing like a good belly laugh, is there?”