‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball Once Told Jim Nabors That Carol Burnett Was ‘Best There Is’: Here’s Why

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

When a television icon like Lucille Ball of “I Love Lucy” fame gives Carol Burnett high praise, then you better sit down for a minute.

Thankfully, one of Burnett’s closest friends was next to Ball when she commented on “The Carol Burnett Show” star.

According to an article from ME.tv, Jim Nabors of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” fame found himself sitting next to Ball and they were watching Burnett in a sketch.

When reflecting back on that moment, Nabors said, “Lucy was very much an analyst. And she said, ‘The kid’s the best there is.'”

‘I Love Lucy’ Star Said She’s Different Than Carol Burnett

That was Ball talking about Burnett specifically.

Nabors, as he’s telling the story, recalls himself laughing and telling Ball, “Well, you did pretty good yourself!”

Lucy responds, “No, I’m different, I’m different.”

To clarify, Nabors said Ball was talking about Burnett’s comedy.

“But she did say she thought Carol was the best sketch artist that had ever come down the pike — or ever would,” he said.

Imagine being Carol Burnett, performing her brand of sketch comedy on CBS, and having Lucy call you the best sketch artist. It’s something that might go to other people’s heads. Not Burnett. She appreciated Ball’s comments, yet looked forward when it came to her own show.

Dick Van Dyke Was Briefly Part Of ‘Burnett Show’ Cast

Speaking of “The Carol Burnett Show,” there was a time when Dick Van Dyke was part of her ensemble.

Van Dyke took over when Harvey Korman left the CBS show for his own comedy show on ABC.

Burnett and Van Dyke had been friends and even performed together at times on TV or theater.

She approached him with an opportunity to come on the show and he accepted. But Van Dyke just lasted 10 episodes as an ensemble player before asking to be released from his contract. Burnett agreed to do so with no hard feelings.

Why? It appears that “The Carol Burnett Show” writers were so used to writing toward Korman’s strengths that the same material didn’t work for Van Dyke.

“Dick and I are still friends, and it’s always a joy to see him at various functions around town,” Burnett wrote in her book, “In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox.” “He’s as nice as he is talented, but I still feel bad that we let him down when he came on board that last season.”