Who Did Comedy Legend Carol Burnett Play On Classic Soap All My Children?

Carol Burnett's career stretches all the way back to 1956, when TV was just hitting its stride. Since that time, the actor's enjoyed a lengthy career in TV and film. She hosted and acted in comedic sketches on "The Carol Burnett Show" during the 1960s and 1970s. Then, in 1982, Burnett delighted audiences with her on-screen performance as Miss Hannigan in "Annie." 

A year later, Burnett branched out into daytime TV with a recurring role on "All My Children." Agnes Nixon, the show's creator, writer, and producer, contacted Burnett and offered to write a character specifically for her. The comedy icon jumped at the chance. "I flew back to New York and they had a whole story line for me. I was on it for two weeks," Burnett recalled to Vulture. The actor's bespoke role was Verla Grubbs, a character who visits the fictional town of Pine Valley after discovering the identity of her father. Verla's estranged dad is former con man Langley Wallingford (Louis Edmonds), a longstanding character who was on the show from 1979 – 1995.

Burnett's first Verla episode also featured an uncredited cameo appearance of acting legend Elizabeth Taylor  as a cleaning woman who's a bit of a loose cannon, or, as Verla describes her in the episode, "I think that woman's pilot light is out." Burnett was apparently unaware Taylor was going to be on the show, so her astonishment during the scene is genuine. 

As played by Carol Burnett, Verla Grubbs celebrated key anniversaries on All My Children

Although Verla Grubbs, Carol Burnett's "All My Children" character, doesn't stay in the show's Pine Valley long, her 1983 appearance did leave room for the character's return. Burnett went on to resume the role in 1995 to celebrate the soap's 25th anniversary. This time Verla was part of a dramatic scene in which she was accused by Phoebe Wallingford (Ruth Warrick) of having an affair with her husband, Langley. Finally, Langley (Louis Edmonds) admits that Verla is his daughter — a secret he's been keeping over a decade. 

In 2005, Burnett returned for the 35th anniversary, and had a hilariously awkward encounter in a hospital where she shares her backstory with character Bianca Montgomery (Christina Bennett Lind). Finally, in 2011, Burnett made two final appearances as Verla Grubbs, weeks before "All My Children" ended its 41-year-run on September 23, 2011. In one scene, Verla finally meets Susan Lucci's iconic character Erica Kane, and the two women quickly dislike each other.  Later, Verla crashes a high school reunion and tries to rekindle a former romance with Sam Brady (Jason Kincaid).

Reminiscing about her time on "All My Children," Burnett informed Vulture, "Soap operas are the hardest work, because, oh my God, you get 19 pages at night, you have to study the lines, and then you go do it in the morning. I really admire soap-opera actors, how they pull it off."

Carol Burnett was a huge fan of All My Children

Before she was a guest actor on "All My Children," Carol Burnett was a fan of the show. "I used to watch that religiously," the comedy said on "Conan" in 2016. After her three daughters got her interested in the soap, Burnett became a devoted viewer. She'd often schedule her lunch break so she could watch it. Burnett would also discuss the show with studio audiences, and ask them to fill her in on the story if she missed an episode. 

Burnett was so enthusiastic about "All My Children" that she went to great lengths to stay informed when she was on a long summer vacation in Europe. The actor recruited a friend to send her a telegram chronicling the soap's plot points each week. While Burnett and her family were in Italy, one of these telegrams gave the hotel manager quite a shock. The manager woke Burnett up in the middle of the night to give her the message, which included startling news like "Erica hasn't come out of her coma yet," (referring to Susan Lucci's character) and "Mona is on trial for murder." When the comedic actor burst out laughing at the situation, the manager mistakenly thought she was crying. Finally, Burnett's husband (who was likely annoyed at being awakened at 2 a.m.) clarified the situation. As Burnett reminisced to Conan O'Brien, "My husband said, 'Oh for God's sake, it's a soap opera!'"