Records Help Carol Burnett Discover Which Of Her Grandmother’s Several Husbands Was Her Grandfather
Jan 24, 2023 by apost team
Carol Burnett, the much-loved singer, actress and comedian, has brought a ray of sunshine and laughter onto our screens for the last 60 years.
She was born on Apr. 26, 1933, in San Antonio, Texas. Part of the reason Burnett was able to get into acting was that she moved to live with her grandmother in Hollywood, where she attended Hollywood High School and went on to study theater at UCLA. After performing in nightclubs around New York City post-graduation, Burnett secured her breakout Broadway role as the evil queen in the musical fairytale production, "Once Upon a Mattress."
Burnett is best known for her variety show "The Carol Burnett Show," which aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978. "The Carol Burnett Show" was a popular variety show with vaudeville roots featuring dancing, singing, and comedy sketches. It wasn't long before Burnett became a comedy queen in the acting business. The popularity of her variety show gained her notable roles in film and movies, such as the orphanage owner Miss Hannigan in 1982's "Annie."
Despite having wild success in Hollywood, Burnett's lucky streak didn't seem to follow into her life outside of acting. The actress's own personal life has had some trials and tribulations, including her youngest daughter, Carrie, dying from lung cancer when she was only 38 years old.
Well into her 80s, Burnett is continuing to live her best life. She has also learned more about her past. While her grandmother was known to have several husbands, Burnett is now sure which one of them was her grandfather.
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"The Carol Burnett Show" was airing at the peak of Burnett's career when she began her family with TV producer Joe Hamilton. She welcomed three daughters into the world during the early 1960s: Jody Hamilton, Erin Hamilton, and Carrie Hamilton. All three of her girls went on to become stars in their own right, but she did not expect the turn of events that were due to take place in the future. Although from behind the screen, Burnett seemed happy, not everything in her life was filled with joy.
Burnett's youngest daughter, Carrie, struggled with substances. She died from complications due to pneumonia in 2002 after cancer spread to her brain. Burnett suffered greatly during this period but had to find a way to get through it. She said: “You don't get over it, but you cope. What else can you do?”
Burnett has continued to share more of her personal and family life with others, especially after she appeared in the series “Finding Your Roots.” There, she talked about how many men her grandmother was married to and finally learned which of them was her grandfather.
Speaking with host Henry Louis Gates Jr., Burnett talked about how she was mostly raised by her maternal grandmother, Mae White, who she referred to as Nanny. She learned more about her family history during her appearance on “Finding Your Roots.”
Funnily enough, Burnett discovered that she is a distant cousin of actor and comedian Bill Hader, who is best known for his time on “Saturday Night Live.” However, Hader once shared that he had a “huge crush” on her.
Burnett also talked about how her grandmother was the inspiration behind the ear-tugging move she performed at the end of every episode of her TV show. It was their own secret symbol for saying hello. Burnett added:
"We figured out that I would pull my ear, which would mean, 'Hello Nanny. I love you. I'm fine. And I always say later on when I got successful it would be, 'Hello Nanny. I love you. I'm fine. Your check's on the way.'”
She went into more detail about her grandmother – specifically her romantic history.
“Nanny often said that she’d been married three times,” Burnett said. Nanny was married to a man with the last name Creighton, one with the last name Melton – which is her middle name – and one with the surname White. However, Burnett’s mother had once shared with her that Nanny was actually married six times.
So, while Burnett was writing her memoir over 30 years ago, she called up her cousin Janice to find out more information about the other three husbands. Burnett believed the man with the last name Creighton was her grandpa, but Janice thought it was the man with the surname Melton.
“And I said, ‘Why would my momma name me Carol Creighton Burnett if she was a Melton?' Which then made me think, 'Did my mother know that she wasn't a Creighton?'"
Needless to say, Burnett was yearning to know the truth. "I'd love to know if I'm a Creighton or a Melton," she said.
Gates shared historical records, including Nanny’s marriage licenses and divorce records. After examining many records and undergoing a DNA test, Gates and his team came to the conclusion that Burnett’s grandmother was likely the man with the surname Creighton.
“I’m glad I know,” she said.
Interestingly enough, Burnett also found out that one of her ancestors had served alongside George Washington in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
What do you think about Carol Burnett learning more about her family history? Were you surprised to learn so much about her grandmother? Let us know, and be sure to pass this along to your loved ones.