Not that one would expect Carol Burnett to be wearing a latex catsuit, but the famous lady comedian was sporting a designer dress on her Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special. And the designer of her dress was a man who dressed Mrs. Burnett for the entire run of her famous variety show, and a man synonymous with the very best costuming in Hollywood and truly worthy of a tribute: Bob Mackie.
A talent as much to be celebrated as any of Burnett’s comedic cast members, Mackie worked with Burnett from the beginning of her show in 1967, up through the eleven years it ran. He’d also come to create dresses for Cher’s many TV variety show hosting jobs, and is still dressing the diva in her “Classic Cher” residency presently playing Las Vegas (which we blogged about last time.) The 78-year old designer, nicknamed both the “sultan of sequins” and “rajah of rhinestones,” has pretty much worked with every diva and grande dame in Hollywood. In addition to Cher and Carol Burnett, Mackie dressed Judy Garland, Mitzi Gaynor, Bernadette Peters and Lucille Ball, to name but a few.
Featured in the 50th Anniversary show and an iconic T.V. moment to be sure, Burnett’s parody of “Gone With The Wind” (she called it “Went With the Wind”) is regarded a classic, as much for its high comedy as Mackie’s famous curtain-rod dress Burnett wore. In fact, Carol Burnett claims when she entered wearing the green wardrobe concoction she received the longest laugh in her show’s history. Mackie has often commented that dressing Carol Burnett in his over-the-top costume designs was the easy part; the lady comedian wasn’t ever as comfortable in the elegant gowns Mackie would make or even liked having her hair done.
With show cast members Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner, plus ‘newer’ comedians like Amy Poehler, Jim Carrey and Bill Hader, Burnett mined memories and clips on her Anniversary show. But she also managed a good long loving segment (and rightly so) with the man who was as responsible for the magic of Burnett’s glorious 11 years as much as anyone else; Bob Mackie.