Monday, April 27, 2009

"Pipe Dream"


pipe dream
, Noun
(idiomatic) A plan, desire, or idea that will not likely work; a near
impossibility.

“Sissy … What’s a Pipe Dream?” asked the little girl, of her sister, who was in the process of packing; in preparation for a trip, to New York City. And it was then that “Sissy” knew the nature of her Mother, and Grandmother’s whispered conversations, down the hall.

Sissy was struggling with all manner of emotions and feelings. She had been given an unsolicited loan of funds, for her debut adventure into the world, that had been her Heart’s desire, and Yearning, for all her young life. So impressed was the kind and generous Gentleman … when he saw her perform in a local amateur production … that he sought her out after the show and asked her why she was not performing in the ‘Big Time.’ When she told him that she was saving her money for that dreamed-of journey … he made his generous offer. So, now she was off to make her way into the Theatrical Wonderland. And now she knew that her Mom and Granny thought that she was chasing a “Pipe Dream.”


So began Carol Burnett’s odyssey. And (unbeknownst to her on that day of beginnings) she would eventually go back to California, and fetch her little Sister, to share with her in better circumstances, and a better life, than either of them had ever before known.

Yesterday, 26 April, was Carol Burnett’s birthday. In 1933, our world was made richer and far better by Life’s gift, of that newborn life. And, as a result (on a completely personal note) my life would know, starting with my first viewing of The Carol Burnett Show, an illuminating ray of encouragement, relief, and unspeakable joy. From my first introduction to that magnificent display, of the infinite spectrum of this Lady’s Spirit … my Life was made immeasurably better. Yes, My Dear Friend, I do, indeed adore and unreservedly love Carol Burnett.

Every appearance of this wonderful woman … be it in performances with her personal Friends, Julie Andrews at Carnegie Hall, or Beverly Sills at The Met; in archival bits from Gary Moore’s Television Show; her dramatic and heart stirring portrayal of a grieving Mother, turned Activist, in “Friendly Fire” or, indeed, any of her many varied offerings, in everything from interviews, to Cameo appearances … has captured my attention, as well as my Heart. I am, happily, forever in her debt. First, as a Person … then through that wonderful Persons expressions of her Self, through her performances.

Please allow me to share, with You, Dear Friend, two segments from an interview, by American Masters, entitled “CAROL BURNETT: A Woman of Character.”

Q: What do you tell young performers who ask for your advice?
A: Sometimes I get letters, and if they leave me their phone number, I’ll call them because it’s easier than writing them back. A couple of little girls who are maybe 12 years old will write me a letter and say, “I want to be the second Carol Burnett.” So I’ll call them and I’ll say, “No, you don’t. You want to be the first Mary Jane Smith, because that’s who you are. There will never be another Mary Jane Smith. You’re the only one. So why would you want to be some second person? You just develop yourself and take classes in school and if there’s community theater, try out for that. And if you’re turned down, don’t ever take it personally, because it could just be that you weren’t the type they were looking for. But just keep on trying, because if you have the fire in the belly, you’re going to make it.” I never want to rain on anybody’s parade and say maybe you’re not talented enough. I don’t know that. I was pissed on a few times, you know? But I always felt there was something that I could do that would see me through.

Q: If you had your career to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?
A: No. It all happened the way it was supposed to. I wouldn’t change anything. I had such a great run. It’s not like I turned down My Fair Lady. I never regretted turning down anything, I never regretted losing a job because I always felt something else was out there. In fact, when I was in New York in ‘59, I was raising my kid sister, I had done Garry and I almost had the lead in a revival of Babes in Arms. They kept calling me back to sing a couple of songs, and it was like I had the part. The director wanted me, but then they decided they wanted to go with a name. I cried a little when I got the word. And my kid sister said, “But Sissy, you always say, like Pollyanna, one door closes, another opens.” I said, “You’re right.” I dried my eyes and the phone rang and it was to come down and audition for George Abbott in Once Upon a Mattress. Babes in Arms never did open on Broadway. When I left UCLA, my classmates said, “What are you going to do when you get to New York, girl?” I said, “I’m going to be in a Broadway show, and the first Broadway show I’m going to be in will be directed by George Abbott.” I always held that in the back of my mind. It makes you kind of wonder.


I need add nothing to what The Lady demonstrates in just these two exchanges. You can see, with me, something of the lovely scope of Character, that is hers.

When I watched her TV Show, it was as a young Man whose life was filled with turmoil, confusion, despair, and unhappiness, and hopelessness. Carol Burnett gave my Soul and Spirit a cleansing bath of joyful hope and encouragement that sustained me. All that I offer here, today, is a sincere, yet far-too-inadequate “Thank You!” to this Woman of great worth and merit to me, my life, and, indeed, the lives of countless millions, touched by her courageous Genius. She instilled a countering sense to that all-too-frequent Voice that regularly whispered to my inner Self, “You are pursuing a Pipe Dream.”

I love you, Dearest Carol Burnett ...

I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh and sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, "So long."

Happiest of Birthdays to you, My Darling Inspiration.


Photo (Edited) Credit: Randee St. Nicholas

16 comments:

willow said...

This lovely lady has brought such happiness to the entire world for decades. Beautiful tribute, John-Michael.

John-Michael said...

I realized, once again, upon seeing your name, Precious Willow, that I am blessed with a few wonderful Souls who continually make my life sweeter. You are a treasured Touch that soothes my Spirit, Dear Friend.

Lovingly ...

morrow said...

What great advice. Never to want to be the second anyone.

Reminds me of this quote by Mark Twain:

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great.

I have had this quote on my fridge and various other places for a long time.

lime said...

i have always been a fan of her simply because she made me laugh so darned hard every time i watched her show as i was growing up, and what a hilarious ensemble of people she surrounded herself with. and now i learn a bit more about her and the kind of woman she is behind all those laughs. thanks you for sharing a bit more about her so i can appreciate her more deeply.

John-Michael said...

And the beautiful thing, My Darling Morrow, is in the lovely way that both her Mom, and her Nanny came to enjoy, and share in, her personal successes. She was able to, ultimately, celebrate the Fruits of her labours not only with them, but also with Christine (her little sister.)

I do like your encouraging quote and its wonderful Truth. Worthy of reminding, indeed!

Lovingly ...

John-Michael said...

I am so glad that I can share my personal attachments, and affections, with One as Dear to me as You, Sweet Lime. I oft recall the precious hours of Spiritual freedom and exhilaration that knew while enveloped in Ms Burnett's Presence. Surrounded by miserable circumstances and responsibilities beyond my abilities to conceive of coping with ... I lost all of the pain and frustration in a Wonderland of 'Realness' ... because she is so very Real in her vulnerabilities and humanity. It showed ... because she had the courage to let it show. She encouraged me to know that I was worthy of ... Being.

Thank you, Dear Friend, for making this moment even better by sharing it with me! I love You.

Cori Lynn Berg said...

I think the most important thing Carol has taught us is that it is okay to laugh at one's self. Have you ever read her autobiography? It is amazing...

Suldog said...

One of the great joys of my own life was getting to see Ms. Burnett live-on-stage here in Boston, doing a comedy called "Moon Over Buffalo". She was marvelous, of course.

You have great taste in women, John-Michael.

Suldog said...

By the way, the following may be of interest to you, if you wish to send her this tribute. I'm willing to bet she'd like it.

http://www.fanmail.biz/27532.html

John-Michael said...

I thank You, Cori Lynn, for bringing her autobiography to my attention (that was so thoughtful of you!! [smile]) I have just checked it out on Amazon.com, and with my next pension check, I will be ordering it.

Appreciatively ...

John-Michael said...

SulDog, My Friend, you are The Best! I saved the information from the site that you directed me to. And, with my next payday, I will be buying an ink cartridge for the printer, and mailing a copy of this post to her. (With an explanation that it is at your kind suggestion. [smile])

Thank you for being so unfailingly thoughtful Jim. I do love You, Ya know ...

Carole said...

This was beautifully stated, as only
you can do! Her advice of being oneself and not trying to be someone
else is profound and a good lesson for all!
Thanks for the memories and the wonderful tribute to a special lady!

John-Michael said...

How I do enjoy memories of the few times that we all watched Her show together. That, and knowing your marvelous Spirit, and how "You" this is, encouraged me to share this post with You Carole, My Dear Friend. I am so glad that you found some pleasure in it!

Loving You ...

Suza said...

One of my very favourite performers of all time - so wonderfully hilarious and so very generous of spirit. Hers is a great gift from which so many of us have benefitted. What a lovely reminder!

nitebyrd said...

I love Carol Burnett. She is a brave, smart, funny, caring woman. Thank you for sharing with us, John-Michael.

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