America in the 1960s and 70s was in turmoil. The civil rights struggle, the war in Vietnam and the sexual revolution defined a nation in conflict. But at 10 o'clock every Saturday night, in dorms and dens, in living rooms and bedrooms across the country, Americans watched "The Carol Burnett Show."
For 11 years, the wacky performer yelled like Tarzan and won — and sometimes broke — our hearts with her edgy, always sympathetic, characters. She could fall down a flight of stairs or hold her own in a duet with Julie Andrews. Yet, as with so many brilliant comedians, hers was a difficult childhood. A glimpse of something deeper and darker began to emerge in the dramatic career that followed her TV variety show.
American Masters, Tuesday at 8 p.m. on PBS-HD.