16 Years On, Carol Burnett Finally Opened Up About Her Daughter’s Passing

16 Years On, Carol Burnett Finally Opened Up About Her Daughter’s Passing

Can you imagine the pressure that comes with making audiences laugh for over 60 years? Helping people forget about their worries for a while sounds like a rewarding job, and for the legendary Carol Burnett, it is — until the curtain falls. You’d never guess it from her famously cheerful persona, but the comedian has faced some truly dark struggles away from the spotlight. The biggest of them all, though, didn’t only test her resolve, but her faith.

Rising above the struggles

Given everything that she’s had to deal with, it’s quite a testament to Burnett’s inner strength that she’s managed to build a legacy for herself on TV. Not everyone would be able to do that. And it’s especially remarkable considering the star’s personal toils started when she was just a kid.

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A tough start

Yes, Burnett was welcomed into the world back in April 1933, spending the early part of her life in San Antonio, Texas. Her childhood coincided with the Great Depression, which was unfortunate, to say the least! But everything changed for the comedian when her folks, Ina Louise and Joseph Burnett, made a life-altering decision.

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First divorce, now Hollywood

“My parents came to Hollywood from Texas and left me there with my grandmother,” Burnett explained to NPR in 2013. “They were hoping that they were going to strike it big out here in Hollywood. And then they divorced. So my grandmother and I followed my mother out to Hollywood in 1940.”

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A single room

Burnett then said, “Mama lived in an apartment building one block north of Hollywood Boulevard. And she got us a single room, which faced the lobby of the building. So Nanny – that was my grandmother – and I lived in this one room.” Living in such cramped quarters couldn’t have been easy. But this was the least of Burnett’s concerns.

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Burnett was helpless

Sadly, the future star got a first-hand view of what alcohol addiction can do to a loved one — or loved ones in this case. Both Joseph and Ina Louise had drinking problems, and a young Burnett could only watch as her parents drank their days away.

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“There wasn’t a mean thought in his body”

“My dad drank before my mother did,” Burnett explained. “In fact, at one time, I remember seeing Mama break a bottle of his that she’d found and pour it down the sink. But Daddy, when he drank, just became sweeter. There wasn’t a mean thought in his body. I’ve always said he was like a drunk Jimmy Stewart!”

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Difficult times ahead

Burnett added, “[But my dad] couldn’t hold a job. You know, he was just hopeless — he had that disease. Mama didn’t start drinking until later. And she wasn’t living with Daddy then, but she started heavily in her 30s. And she was a mean drunk.” We can only imagine how tough that must have been for the youngster.

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Finding solace in theater

But despite those personal issues, Burnett was able to focus on her passions as she got older. And 1951 marked a big moment for the future star. In that year, Burnett successfully completed her studies at Hollywood High School. Then, she went on to become a college student and was able to explore her interest in English and theater arts. This was the start of something great.

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Setting off for the city

Burnett went to the University of California, Los Angeles, but she didn’t stick around long enough to graduate. Instead, she decided to move far away to try her luck as an actress. After bravely packing her bags for New York, Burnett was ready to start the next phase of her life. But before she could leave, the wannabe actress had to get through a difficult encounter.

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Heartbreaking losses

Burnett’s dad wasn’t very well, and she had to go and see him. As she recalled in her book This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection, “He was in a cot in a charity hospital suffering from tuberculosis aggravated by years of drinking. He died shortly after I got to New York.” He was only 46, which is also how old her mom was when she passed away.

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Breaking into show business

As gut-wrenching as that must have been for Burnett, it didn’t appear to affect her professional life. She quickly found success after arriving in New York, making her small-screen debut in 1955. The aspiring entertainer featured on The Paul Winchell Show — and the opportunities just kept on coming from there.

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Game-changing moment

A year or so later, Burnett joined the cast of the sitcom Stanley. She appeared in 14 episodes playing the character of Celia Howard, though it could be argued that her most important role came a bit later. In 1958 the actress was recruited by The Garry Moore Show. It’s safe to say she had her foot well and truly in the door!

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Her own show

Thanks to her work on that variety program, Burnett had a growing fan base. They couldn’t wait to see more of the unique comedian! So in 1967, Burnett finally landed her own show on CBS. It was simply titled The Carol Burnett Show, and it allowed her to continue producing hilarious sketches. Though not without a few disagreements with the producers!

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“They tried to talk me out of it”

As Burnett recalled to the New York Post in May 2020, she had to fight for her show’s success. The star said, “CBS didn’t want me to do a variety show. They said that’s a man’s game. But I had it in my contract that they would give me 30 one-hour comedy/variety shows. They tried to talk me out of it.”

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11 years later…

“[The studio] wanted me to do a sitcom called Dear Agnes,” Burnett continued. “Oh God, I didn’t want to be Dear Agnes each week. I remember the first taping [of The Carol Burnett Show]. Just before we started I said, ‘Let’s just go out there and have fun’ — and that’s what we did for 200-odd shows for 11 years.”

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Away from the limelight

Once the show concluded in 1978, Burnett continued to establish herself as a small-screen mainstay over the next few decades. Burnett’s career may have been flourishing, but away from the limelight, her personal problems were mounting up. And how she dealt with it all is a real testament to her character.

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Meet Carrie Hamilton

About a year after Burnett’s first marriage ended, she tied the knot with a man named Joe Hamilton. The pair went on to welcome three kids into the world, with their eldest being daughter Carrie. But as Carrie grew up, her parents started to become worried. There were signs that something was wrong, but they just couldn’t put their finger on what it was.

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“We were so stupid”

Burnett opened up about this dark period of her life on an episode of Good Morning America. She said, “We were so stupid. We were really naive about everything. [Carrie] had always been a top student, and the most popular and all of that. Then, when she was about 14, her grades started to slip.”

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A nasty surprise

“Then [Carrie] started to get sullen,” Burnett continued. “And I was chalking it up to puberty. Well, wrong! It took us a while, [but] then we found out she was into pot and heavier stuff as a teenager.” Yep, just like her late grandparents Joseph and Ina Louise, Carrie was dealing with some powerful addictions.

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Mother/daughter friction

What a horrible turn of events! Unsurprisingly, Burnett did a lot of soul-searching once the issue had come to light. And she even questioned if it had been her fault. There was no point dwelling on that, though. All that mattered to Burnett was that Carrie got better. But this led to some heartbreaking friction between the two.

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“She hated me”

Burnett opened up about the ordeal during an interview with People magazine in May 2018. The actress said, “I put [Carrie] in a third rehab place, and oh my God, she hated me. I came to the conclusion that I had to love her enough to let her hate me.” This time around, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

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Happily ever after?

“[Carrie] got sober when she was 17,” Burnett revealed. “She got sober, and we started bonding. We wound up working together, writing a play together. We worked together in three shows.” What a wonderful turnaround! After enduring a strained relationship, the television star seemingly had her daughter back.

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Carrie’s kindness

The pair got to work mending their relationship and realized that they actually had quite a bit in common. According to Burnett, her daughter was very much a people person and paid close attention to whoever she came across during the day. The TV personality also told People that Carrie had an abundance of kindness to share with those around her. And as they’d both discover, Carrie was also incredibly brave.

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Tragedy strikes

If you thought that Carrie’s addiction was Burnett’s biggest obstacle in life, you’d be sadly mistaken. You see, years after Carrie’s victory over her drug addiction, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. This diagnosis would’ve left anyone shaken, but Carrie wasn’t just anyone. She had already overcome so much in her short life.

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Carrie vowed to fight

So Carrie vowed to fight for her life. It helped, of course, that her mother was by her side throughout her entire cancer journey. Though the disease weakened Carrie’s body, it couldn’t subdue her exuberant personality — something Burnett deeply admired.

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Carrie’s time in hospital

Burnett looked back on a particular moment that proved to be pivotal to her. The comedian told Fox News, “When [Carrie] was in the hospital the last time, one of the nurses came up to me in the hall and said, ‘Carrie just cheers us up when we go in the room.’”

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A powerful mantra

Burnett continued, “I asked Carrie, ‘How can you be up and so cheerful?’ and Carrie said, ‘Every day I wake up and decide today I’m going to love my life.’” Although Carrie’s love of life inspired everyone she came across, it ultimately couldn’t save her from the disease.

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A life-changing blow

The cancer eventually got to her brain, and she passed away in January 2002. She was only 38 years old. Burnett was suddenly faced with a heartbreaking reality: she was a mother who’d lost her child. At any age, this life-changing blow can feel impossible to overcome.

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Unbelievable pain

We can’t begin to imagine the pain that Burnett felt. In the years following Carrie’s death, Burnett tried to remember Carrie’s mantra about living life. “I kind of take that mantra whenever I’m feeling down…this is what Carrie was and how she thought and felt. I’m just going to love my life today, and that helps.”

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She’ll never fully move on

Even as she practices Carrie’s strong mindset, Burnett will never be able to move on. As she told People back in 2018, there was no way to ever “get over” Carrie’s untimely death. Mind you, she’s doing a lot better now than she was after it first happened.

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The catalyst

Burnett found it difficult to even establish a daily routine after her daughter’s passing; all she wanted to do was to stay in bed, which is totally understandable. But then Burnett remembered the project she and Carrie were supposed to be doing together — and her mindset began to change.

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Supernatural signs

It was a stage show, and a director named Hal Prince was set to run it. So, not wanting to let either of them down, Burnett found her feet again to perform. But as she got ready to start without Carrie, the mom went on to experience an incredible series of events. Some might say they were supernatural!

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“Give me a sign”

Burnett told People, “I got on a plane and said a little prayer to Carrie. [I] said, ‘I’ve got to do this alone. Don’t leave me alone. Give me a sign that you’re with me.’” And when Burnett arrived at her destination and walked through the hotel room door, she received a heartwarming surprise. It was almost as if Carrie had been listening to her!

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Birds of paradise

Someone had prepared a stunning arrangement of flowers in Burnett’s room. Specifically, they were birds of paradise. “That was Carrie’s favorite flower,” she revealed to the magazine. “She had one tattooed on her right shoulder.” And the coincidences didn’t end there.

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Champagne and rain

“At dinner, the maître d’ gave us a bottle of champagne,” said Burnett. “And the label said ‘Louise.’ That was Carrie’s middle name. Then it rained on [the] opening night [of the stage show]. Carrie and I were nuts for the rain.” Sounds to us like Burnett’s prayer on the airplane had been answered.

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Inspired by Carrie

Given everything that Burnett had been through up until then, those events must’ve made her feel incredibly emotional. They were proof that Carrie’s larger-than-life spirit still remained with her mom — even years after her death. One memory in particular touched Burnett’s heart, and it even inspired her to start an intimidating new project.

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“Tell me your story”

Burnett explained, “[Carrie] also loved to write. One time she was in New York, and it was the winter, and homeless people would come up and ask for money. She would say, ‘I’ll give you $10 if you tell me your story.’ She would collect those stories and write about them.”

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Carrie and Me

Burnett was inspired by Carrie’s love of storytelling and has since written the book Carrie and Me. The deeply personal account hit the shelves back in 2013, and it’s about the connection the pair shared as mother and daughter. And in it are plenty of moments that Burnett hasn’t ever revealed in public before.

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An unfinished story

Burnett told Fox News, “Carrie asked me to finish her story for her, Sunrise in Memphis. She had the beginning, the end, and part of the middle. I was unable to do it. They were her characters to write. Her request had been living with me for ten years.”

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“She was quite extraordinary”

Burnett knew she had to write. “I thought, ‘I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to write about our relationship, about what kind of person she was, because she was quite extraordinary.’ I wanted the reader to get her essence, and then in part two I included Carrie’s unfinished story.”

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What if?

It proved to be a remarkable tribute to a woman who always made Burnett’s life brighter. After the untimely losses of her parents and daughter, Burnett used her comedic talents to keep their memories alive. But what if the roles had been reversed?

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Pain Into Humor

They say comedians understand pain better than anyone, and given the obstacles in Burnett’s life, it’s easy to see why. They take the pain everyone experiences in life and twist it into something funny. To make a living out of doing that has got to be hard on one’s sense of self. Take Pauly Shore, for example. The comedic character from films like Encino Man and Bio-Dome never fully turns off his trademark persona, but he doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that his past was far from how it appeared from the outside.

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Family Business

People might wonder how a guy ends up maintaining a surfer-slang, party-boy character for 30 years running. Well, few have experienced what Shore has throughout his life. He was born in Hollywood with a stand-up comedian father and a mother who became comedy royalty, and Pauly and his siblings were along for the ride.

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The Comedy Store

Sammy and Mitzi Shore opened the Hollywood institution The Comedy Store when Pauly was just four years old, providing him a front-row seat to comedy’s greatest legends. Whatever your opinion of Shore’s own comedic stylings, there’s no doubt that he honed his skills by taking notes from the best. Even better, he got his hands dirty.

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First Job

Shore described the strange things he witnessed comics do to the New York Times: “He’d pour milk on his head, rub a grapefruit on his elbow, and smear chocolate pudding on his chest. My little jaw dropped. After a performance, he’d go out to the parking lot to clean up. My first job at the Comedy Store was hosing down Lenny Schultz.” For the Shores, comedy was inescapable and all encompassing.

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No Separation

Pauly remembers how typical it was for stars like Robin Williams to show up unannounced at their house, dressed in his Mork and Mindy costume, to talk to his mother in her office. Early on, it was obvious that this was a profession that drew a specific kind of person.

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Den Mother

“Comedians are very sensitive,” Shore told the New York Times. “My mom knew that, and she was like the den mother to all of them. She knew how fragile Robin was, and they had this kindness for each other that was pretty special,” The lens through which Shore saw the comedic greats who passed through his mother’s club was tinged with admiration and understanding.

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Comedy was King

Few people have known the kind of environment Pauly Shore was raised in, one where being a comedian was the peak of creativity, bravery, and grit. Plus, there was the fact that his mother dedicated her life completely to her club and the comedians that she believed had that special spark. It caused conflicts.

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Mitzi’s First Love

“My mom was very loving — but her first love was always the Store and the comics,” Pauly said. From his words, it’s obvious he was shaped to think comedians weren’t just heroes, they were tied to the love and admiration of his mother. Naturally, that left an impression.

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Nightlife Childhood

Another part of being a child witness to the comedy culture was the instability. Pauly’s reality as a third-grader was being awoken on school nights by the booming laughter of his mother and her famous comic pals, wafting the smoke from their joints up to his bedroom. Still, Shore’s proximity to show business elites was too cool to deny.

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Pryor Connections

“When Richard showed up at the Store, it was like a wave went through the club: ‘Richard’s here, oh my God, Richard’s here.’ I’d go out to the parking lot and open the door of his car. He’d get out, say ‘Heeeeey little man!’ and shake my hand.” Shore told the New York Times. Paling around with Richard Pryor was the silver lining of his usual childhood, but there were drawbacks.

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Working Hard

Despite his privileged position of having The Comedy Store as the family business, it was clear to Pauly that his mother wasn’t going to hand out opportunities. Mitzi Shore amassed an incredible wealth running her clubs, living the good life chauffeuring her family in limos. However, if her kids wanted something, they had to work for it.

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No Favoritism

“When I got into high school, I wanted a 100-gallon saltwater fish tank. Mom said she wouldn’t buy it for me, but that I could work for it — she made me the short-order cook on weekends at the Westwood branch of the Comedy Store.” It was abundantly clear that Mitzi wouldn’t show her son favoritism just because he was her kid.

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Pauly’s Mission

Besides filling orders in the kitchen, Pauly was expected to make some more out-of-the-ordinary contributions to the family business. The club scene in Los Angeles was competitive and cutthroat, which meant making strategic moves to stay ahead. Sometimes it fell to Pauly to find out information.

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Stealing Secrets

One of Pauly’s high school classmates was the child of an owner of a competitive club — the Improv. The son of nightlife legend Budd Friedman was stuck in the same sort of showbiz upbringing as Pauly Shore, which marked him as a target. Shore poached the names of the comedians doing sets at the Improv and reported back to his mother. Mitzi Shore took betrayal very seriously.

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Mitzi’s Wrath

Pauly knew which comedians his mother had on her banned list for the ultimate infraction of performing at rival clubs. She even felt scorned by comics who took spots on HBO’s Annual “Young Comedians Special” hosted by Rodney Dangerfield. Some comics were exiled because they pushed Mitzi too far.

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Family Tensions

Controversial comic Sam Kinison was slapped with a ban after bringing a gun to The Comedy Store on a coke-fueled overreaction to a fight. Mitzi got angry with Pauly for hanging out with Kinison, but he assured her he did so for strategic reasons, “I said, ‘Mom, you don’t understand. I’m not hanging out with him for drugs — I’m hanging out with him because he’s a genius.’”

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Breaking Point

The fight between Mitzi and Pauly led to a breaking point. He went home, packed his things, and moved out the next day. That was the catalyst that made Pauly embrace and pursue the dream that simmered inside from the time he was a small child watching comics kill on stage — he started doing stand-up.

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Finding His Persona

On the stage, Pauly could use his weird and somewhat dark, and neglectful childhood to get the laughs and work through the pain. He used what he learned from growing up in The Comedy Store to define a one-of-a-kind character that he’s never really strayed too far from.

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The Weasel

Most people don’t know there’s a separation between Pauly Shore and his alter ego “The Weasel.” Admittedly the lines are blurred, as Shore is every bit the stoner-surfer who remains categorically unruffled and communicates primarily through slang called dudespeak. His over-the-top characterization made him stand out and won an audience in the early ‘90s.

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MTV Hero

MTV hired Pauly Shore as a VJ in 1990, which categorically changed his life. His Weasel persona was deemed hilarious by legions of young fans, leading to his own show Totally Pauly. He was the perfect personality to host MTV spring break coverage and maintain the party-hardy fun-loving brand. It looked like he was set up for the comedy career he’d always dreamed of.

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Film Star

Then came Shore’s slew of films that showcased his Weasel identity. First was Encino Man, by far the most critically and financially successful, but he had others too, namely Bio-Dome and Son in Law. By the mid to late ‘90s, though, the tide rolled back on Pauly Shore’s opportunities.

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Pauly Shore Is Dead

The schtick that once made him a star became the fodder for cruel jokes and rejection. Working through his career stalemate left Shore depressed and creatively drained. In 2003 he made a mockumentary film called Pauly Shore Is Dead that chronicled his fall from stardom, which was well-received, though not enough to revamp his career.

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Back to Stand-up

However, giving up was never the Shore way. He learned from his parents how to weather the storm of show business and turned back to his roots — performing stand-up. For a decade, Pauly traveled the country as a working comic, and in 2020, he made his move comeback in the form of the Netflix comedy Guest House.

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Inheriting Mitzi’s Responsibilities

Shore explores new projects like impersonating political figure Stephen Miller and hosting his podcast Random Rants, but there’s an even larger priority he’s saddled with these days — managing The Comedy Store. Mitzi Shore bequeathed a role in the family business to each of her children in her will when she died in 2018. Pauly stepped into his mother’s enormous shoes and inherited all the headaches that can come with it.

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Difficulty Of Running The Comedy Store

The biggest difficulty Mitzi Shore faced in her tenure as The Comedy Store’s owner and overlord was the comedian’s strike in 1979. Pauly explained to The New York Times, “My mom never really forgave the comedians, but pretty soon the drugs were flowing, and people were partying again, and everybody seemed to forget about it.” The strike remains a dark mark on the club’s history, though back then, they were breaking new ground.

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‘Tonight Show’ Moves

In April of 1972, Johnny Carson moved The Tonight Show from its original home in New York City’s Rockefeller across the country to Burbank, California. Coincidentally, comedian Sammy and his wife Mitzi Shore opened the Comedy Store that very same month. They were ready to welcome the flood of hopeful comics who followed Carson out West for the chance to make it big.

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Big Break

One night in 1973, after killing onstage at the Comedy Store, Freddie Prinze impressed the right people. He was called to perform on The Tonight Show and overnight, his career exploded. From then on, the comics at the Store knew it could only take one great set to make you a megastar.

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Mitzi Takes Charge

That same year, Sammy and Mitzi divorced, and as part of the deal, she got the club. The transition to the Mitzi era marked one of the most important moments in comedy history. She had a vision for what the Comedy Store could be and got straight to work enacting her strategic plans.

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Queen Of Comedy

Mitzi’s vision wasn’t just about the business end of things either. She ate, slept, and breathed comedy. Every night she handwrote the show lineups, developing deep friendships with the comics she saw potential in. Her bluntness was legendary, but running the Comedy Store was her biggest passion and calling. She gave everything to the club, including taking big gambles to see it succeed.

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Major Overhaul

Mitzi reconfigured the layout of the room, keeping the Original Room and adding the Main Room to the club where the top talent would perform. She switched to table service, so waitresses would come to your seat and take your order — now with a 2 drink club minimum, which became the standard.

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Eye For Talent

Betting on her vision, Mitzi poured over 50 grand into the project with high hopes for the return. Thankfully, her vision paid off. But the success of the Comedy Store wasn’t based on the nitty-gritty logistical reconfigurations. No, it was based on Mitzi’s ability to spot talent. Every comic that set foot on her stage had to pass a Mitzi audition.

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Stand-up Mecca

By the late ’70s, the Comedy Store was the stand-up Mecca. It was a time when some of the greatest comedians in history were given Mitzi’s stamp approval to cut their teeth on stage. When David Letterman was ready to call it quits and move back to Indianapolis, Mitzi believed in his talent and convinced him to stay. She had a sixth sense for seeing potential.

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Pressure To Perform

Talent scouts frequented the club searching for the next big star. It was all on the line when you walked on that stage. Besides getting the laughs, all your greatest dreams — a network sitcom, a Tonight Show spot, the role of a lifetime — all dangled in front of you. In order to catch them, all you had to do was kill.

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Paid In Opportunities

To Mitzi, she was running a showcase. A chance on her stage was comedy college, training performers for what came next — their big breaks. It was an opportunity to step out on her Main Room stage, the most direct launchpad that a comic could find in LA. And that’s where the trouble started.

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Not Compensating Performers

Mitzi could talk about the major opportunity of performing on her stage until the cows came home, but ultimately, customers filled the seats every night to be entertained by comics. The Comedy Store was raking in huge profits, and none of the performers were getting a cut.

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Mitzi Won’t Budge

When people pressed Mitzi on the unfair policy, she stood her ground, claiming her club was akin to a college where you go to learn, not to make money. In fact, she doubled down saying the comics didn’t even deserve a measly $5 in gas money. The fallout was huge.

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Comics Had Enough

The stand-ups were done standing for free. Comic Tom Dreesen, a former teamster, decided to do something about it. He proposed that they borrow some tactics from the labor unions and advocate for fair treatment. Acting as the mouthpiece, he went to Mitzi with a proposal.

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Dressen’s Proposal

Dreesen laid out the terms of his plan. The club had a $4.40 admission price, so he suggested that by bumping it up by $1, the extra income could be split amongst the comics who performed that night. In essence, Mitzi would still make the same profits as usual and the entertainers would walk away with something for their labor. It seemed fair, but not to Mitzi.

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Strike

The club owner refused the deal. With that answer, Dreesen employed the next part of the labor union strategy — the comics went on strike. The regular performers of the Comedy Store grabbed their signs and joined a picket line. Anyone looking to experience a fun night of laughs had to reckon with the biggest up-incomers in show business calling for change outside.

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The Demands

It wasn’t just one or two people. In total, 150 comedians stood to join the strike, refusing to cross the picket line. If Mitzi refused to come to an agreement and pay her comics, they wouldn’t budge. They called for the Comedy Store to close.

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Choosing Sides

News of the comedians’ strike was picked up by major news outlets, giving the Comedy Store some seriously bad publicity. Inside the club, the reaction was just as grim. The strike caused a schism between Mitzi and the comics. Everyone was forced to choose. The work of laughter became nearly impossible and Mitzi took it hardest of all.

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Betrayal

The strike took a major toll on Mitzi. She felt betrayed by people she considered friends, people she had uplifted, believed in, and helped propel to success. It was the only time in her tenure that Mitzi considered selling the store. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

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Mitzi’s Allies

Not every comedian who worked the Store agreed with the strike strategy. One was furious enough to drive his car straight into the gathered mass of strikers, hitting and knocking down Jay Leno. Most of Mitzi’s supporters understood the love and dedication she had for her club and felt gratitude for the leg-up she’d provided. They wouldn’t disrespect her.

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Ultimate Tragedy

For six tension-filled weeks, the strike continued. Friendships were ruined, not just Mitzi’s, but between the divided base of performers. But the biggest tragedy of the Comedy Store strike was the death of a comedian who jumped off the 14-story hotel nearby, carrying a suicide note reading: “My name is Steve Lubetkin. I used to work at The Comedy Store.”

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The Deal

Finally, in June of ’79, the strikers and Mitzi reached a deal. Performers in the Original room were paid $25 per set, and Main Roomer got 50% of the door fee. In truth, it took her three weeks of sitting with the terms to agree to them, as she’d been gutted by David Letterman’s presence on the picket line. In the end, some relationships were too broken to repair.

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Moving Forward

While the strike took a lasting emotional toll on Mitzi, she rolled with the punches and continued doing what she did best — running her club. The comedian who participated in the strike remained “unionized” for another year, but there wasn’t much of a need. They’d changed the game and established that comics should be paid.

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Mitzi’s Legacy

Mitzi passed away in 2018 leaving her club to her children, one of whom is comedian Pauly Shore. The strike left a blemish on the Comedy’s Store legacy, though it didn’t undo the decades of hard work and dedication Mitzi contributed to the world of comedy.

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Banned From The Club

As for Tom Dreesen and Jay Leno, they didn’t take the stage of the Comedy Store ever again. They turned to the other big LA clubs like the Laugh Factory. The sting of their rift with Mitzi taught them a valuable lesson about how friendship shouldn’t trump mutual respect.

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