She lost her daughter, Carrie Hamilton, to lung cancer in 2003, but remembers her fondly as a force of nature and collaborator.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 7, 2023. It has since been updated.
Carol Burnett, who will turn 90 in April 2023, has had a career marked by achievements. "The Carol Burnett Show," a pioneering comedy variety series that was initially broadcast on CBS, was among the first shows of its kind to feature a female host. However, the comedian has also dealt with deep grief along with splendid success. She suffered great loss including the death of her daughter, Carrie Hamilton, in 2002.
Burnett told PEOPLE, "There's not a day or almost a moment goes by that she's not with me. We worked together, we laughed together, we cried together. She was a force." Hamilton followed in her mother's footsteps by pursuing an acting career, which included playing the role of Reggie Higgins in the TV series "Fame" and appearing in the movies "Tokyo Pop" and "Shag."
Additionally, Hamilton collaborated with Burnett on several projects, such as a 1990 episode of "Carol & Company" and a play called "Hollywood Arms," which was based on Burnett's memoir about her upbringing.
I watched a movie called Four Seasons with Carol Burnett earlier. Just started watching Shag and couldn’t get over how this girl looks like Carol. It’s her daughter 😩 Carrie Hamilton. pic.twitter.com/0qlfapnEtM— Stevie_Jim_Harding_Stan (@2020istrash2020) January 11, 2023
Hamilton battled drug addiction and was diagnosed with lung cancer that eventually metastasized to her brain in 2002. She passed away in January of the following year at the age of 38. Burnett said, "When she got sick, I remember she was in the hospital and I would go to see her every day. One day, a nurse at the hospital said, 'Carrie cheers us up.' I asked Carrie why she was always cheerful, and her reply was, 'Everyday I wake up and decide.' That's the key word, decide. I say that to myself every morning."
May Carrie Hamilton R.I.P. She Passed away To Young. She was an very talent Actress. Carol Burnett and daughter Carrie Hamilton pic.twitter.com/nboqLNLiAN— spacewoman reporter (@SpacewomanR) January 31, 2019
Emphasizing Hamilton's death, Burnett focused on the fragility of life. She explained, "You don't know. Life can change on a dime. So just be grateful for today what you have." As a tribute to her daughter who had passed away, Burnett wrote and published a memoir in 2014 titled "Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story."
Prior to her upcoming milestone birthday on April 26, the comedian shared her thoughts on what it signifies to reach the age of 90. She told shared: "I can't wrap my head around it. I still feel like I'm about 11, but I'm amazed. It sure went fast. But I'm glad because I've got all my parts — got my hips, I got my knees and I've got my brain, so I'm happy about that."
Carol Burnett's memoir about late daughter Carrie Hamilton to be made into a movie: Carol Burnett's memoir about her late daughter Carrie Hamilton is being adapted into a film, and the comedy icon herself is helping produce it. https://t.co/QHSdWK5zxO pic.twitter.com/MHesjEoHWz— RushReads (@RushReads) March 27, 2019
Burnett expressed her desire to be remembered for the positive impact she had on her fans, making them feel better during difficult times. Burnett said, "In my fan mail, many say it was the only time the family would get together, to watch and laugh. And that sometimes they were lonesome and were cheered up by our show. That's a good feeling."
NBC has scheduled a two-hour special on April 26 to commemorate Burnett's 90th birthday. The program will showcase appearances by guest stars such as Amy Poehler, Cher, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Carell and Julie Andrews, who has been a longtime friend of Burnett. Moreover, the event will feature performances from Bernadette Peters, Billy Porter, Jane Lynch, Katy Perry and Kristin Chenoweth.