Comedy legend Carol Burnett is marking the golden anniversary of The Carol Burnett Show with a star-studded celebration.
“First of all, I can’t believe it went so fast,” the 84-year-old says of the five decades that have passed since the ground-breaking program's premiere.
Inside Edition went backstage with the icon as she reunited with friends and former cast members for the Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special, which will air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, the network that aired the variety show for eleven seasons in the 1960s and '70s.
For years, the pioneering queen of comedy made fans around the country laugh out loud. “I wanted our show to be more like a Broadway musical comedy review every week," Burnett admits. "I also wanted belly laughs."
She said the network didn't initially believe that Burnett could pull off a hit show.
“I thought, 'OK, at least we had one season,’” she recalls of filming the first episodes back then.
Her big break came when the program was moved to Saturday nights.
“All of our shows drew at least 30 million people watching every week."
And Burnett wasn't the only actress excited to be a part of the show.
“We got paid for playing dress up,” exclaimed Vicki Lawrence, who appeared on The Carol Burnett Show over its entire run. She still marvels over how Burnett helped launch her career when she was just 18 years old.
“I wrote her a fan letter and she thought it would be a novelty to cast a girl that looked like her kid sister play her kid sister. It was just incredible serendipitous timing.”
Lawrence went on to become best known as "Mama" to Burnett’s neurotic Eunice Higgins on six memorable episodes of Mama's Family.
Three-time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters, who is set to take over Bette Midler’s role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway next January, made multiple guest appearances on The Carol Burnett Show.
"She is still such a brilliant comedian and has a great sense of humor and great timing,” Peters said of Burnett.
Two Broke Girls star Beth Behrs is also thrilled to be a part of the anniversary special and honor an entertainment pioneer.
“Carol paved the way for all of us female performers,” she said. "I feel like growing up watching her is the reason I got a job.”
Kevin Spacey, who was part of the taping, will not be included in the celebration in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations, including one by Rent actor Anthony Rapp that occurred when he was just 14 years old.
The House of Cards star and 2017 Tony Award host recorded a song-and-dance routine with Burnett, Peters and Kristin Chenoweth. It’s not known whether the number was scrapped or will air without Spacey.
Other stars joining Burnett for the reunion are Tom Selleck — who shared the TV screen with her on his hit show, Magnum P.I. — and Harry Connick Jr.
“For me to be able to do this, it’s like being on the stage with Superman — I can’t even fathom it,” Connick said. “It’s just amazing how she changed television.”