Carol Burnett is one of the few American comediennes to establish herself as an icon. Laughing Till It Hurts is the ultimate Carol Burnett biography. For eleven years The Carol Burnett Show proved a showcase for Burnett’s comic genius.
Though extensive interviews with Carol’s friends, family, and co-workers, Taraborrelli traces her career from her formative years through her first marriage to fellow actor Don Saroyan, and her breakthrough role starring as the princess in George Abbott’s Once Upon a Mattress.
Laughing Till It Hurts explores the darker side of the fame and pressures that it placed on Carol. As a result of her outspoken battles with the media and her personal ordeal with her daughters drug problems, Carol Burnett has metamorphized into a new woman—someone who not only knows how to be funny but is also uncompromisingly herself.
Biographer of Diana Ross and Cher, Taraborelli purports here to flesh out the story related by Carol Burnett in One More Time , but, mainly, he covers the same ground. The material is dimmed by clumsy writing, but quoted comments of the star's associates add immediacy and verve. Taraborelli describes the entertainer's poor childhood in California, arrival in New York at age 21 and all-out efforts to get into show business. There are data on Burnett's brief marriage to a fellow UCLA student, early appearances on TV, the lead role in the Broadway musical Once Upon a Mattress and later success as the phenomenally popular television star. We read about her marriage to producer Joe Hamilton in 1963, which broke up after 20 years, and about their three daughters, one of whom, teenage Carrie, became addicted to drugs. Taraborelli speculates about Burnett's future and concludes, a bit breathlessly, ``Carol is not `just plain folks,' '' her personal evolution ``is just plain human .'' Photos not seen by PW.