May 21, 2013 / 6:44 PM / 6 years ago

Carol Burnett to receive top honor for American comedians

Actress Carol Burnett arrives for the taping of "Betty White's 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America's Golden Girl" in Los Angeles January 8, 2012. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

(Reuters) - Actress and comedienne Carol Burnett will be honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the top award for American comics, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts said on Tuesday.

Burnett, 80, whose Emmy-winning sketch comedy program “The Carol Burnett Show” was a mainstay on U.S. television from 1967 to 1978, will receive the award during a ceremony at Washington’s Kennedy Center in October.

“From her television program and appearances, as well as her performances on Broadway and in film, Carol Burnett has entertained generations of fans with her vibrant wit and hilarious characters,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

Burnett received her big break in the Broadway musical “Once Upon a Mattress” in 1959, which earned her a Tony Award nomination.

She won her first Emmy Award in 1962 for her work on “The Garry Moore Show” sketch comedy TV program, but cemented her comedic reputation by parodying the film “Gone with the Wind” and the TV soap opera “As the World Turns” on her own show.

Her film work includes 1981’s “The Four Seasons” and director John Huston’s 1982 adaptation of musical “Annie.”

Past recipients of the award, which was first given out in 1998, include Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Bill Cosby and Tina Fey. Television comic and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres won last year.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey, Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Xavier Briand

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