Born April 26, 1933, in San Antonio, Texas. Her father, Joseph Burnett, and mother, Ina Louise Burnett, were both often unemployed, and the family lived most of the time on welfare. Burnett was raised primarily by her maternal grandmother, Mabel Eudora White. Her parents divorced in the late 1930s, and Burnett and her grandmother moved to an apartment near her mother’s in an impoverished area of Hollywood, California. Her father and mother, both alcoholics, died in 1954 and 1957 respectively.
“I think the hardest thing to do in the world, show-business-wise, is write comedy. We had a great staff of writers, and if we had a sketch we were rehearsing and it wasn’t working, we’d call the writers down and show them what we had come up with. And there were no egos. In 11 years, we never had a writer get angry because we made it a little bit more of our own and maybe a little improved. They would jump in and say, “Oh okay, how about this then, while you’re doing that?” We were all in the sandbox together.”
“When I was in college at UCLA, I took a playwriting course. I was all set to be a writer. But I had to take this acting class as a theater arts major. I had to do this scene in a one-act comedy. I just said this line, and then… this laugh happened. I thought, ‘Whoa. This is a really good feeling. What have I been missing?'”