Carol Burnett

An iconic figure in the history of American television comedy and an inspiration to both female and male comics for almost 50 years, Carol Burnett rose from a difficult childhood to become one of the most beloved performers on television, both as a featured performer on series like "The Garry Moore Show" (CBS, 1950-1967) and as the star of her own acclaimed sketch comedy series, "The Carol Burnett Show" (CBS, 1967-1978). Burnett was also an accomplished musical performer, netting a Tony Award for her star-making Broadway debut in "Once Upon a Mattress" (1959). Though her subsequent series efforts never equaled the heights achieved by "The Carol Burnett Show," she was frequently hailed for her guest appearances on numerous sitcoms, and also established herself as a formidable dramatic actress with the 1979 TV movie, "Friendly Fire." Burnett also enjoyed a sporadic movie career, with roles in films like Robert Altman's "A Wedding" (1978) and John Huston's "Annie" (1982), while always making headlines with her returns to the stage - most particularly in "Moon Over Buffalo" (1995) and "Putting It Together" (1999). In the next millennium, Burnett earned acclaim for guest stints on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) and "Glee" (Fox, 2009-15), proving that the comedic legend was still a powerful force on the small screen in whatever genre presented her.