One More Time

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Born in San Antonio and reared in Hollywood, Carol Burnett has lived a life which is almost a cliche of an old movie. The product of a broken home, she was the daughter of divorced, alcoholic parents. She was reared by her maternal grandmother, Nanny, continuing to live with her in a one-room apartment even when her mother lived down the hall. Her mother wanted to be connected with show business but was never successful. Her father was a gentle, weak man who drifted in and out of her life.

Burnett’s childhood was spent in poverty during the Depression and World War II. Yet, like most children, she had a knack for making the best of dismal circumstances. Drawing on her own resources and the strengths and love of her family, she developed her acting, singing, and comedic talents as she played with friends in vacant lots and sang at home. Yet, it was not until she went to UCLA that her talents were recognized. While her rise to fame was not exactly meteoric, it was steady and relatively rapid. Burnett also reveals that she was blessed with some near miraculous support at several critical points in her career.

Begun as a letter to her daughters, the memoir is really a series of vignettes, usually told from the young Carol’s point of view, but often with insights provided by the experienced, adult Carol. The result is a well-written, moving account of individual determination and dedication. Burnett’s honesty and lack of bitterness over the past can also speak to anyone who has looked back and reflected on his or her childhood and its pains and joys.