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Lucille Ball sent Carol Burnett flowers the day she died

The two legends had a surprisingly close friendship.

Image: Associated Press

April 26 could easily be called the day comedy died. It could also be called the day sketch comedy was born. 

The date marks two momentous occasions — the day Carol Burnett was born and the day Lucille Ball passed away.

Although the two women reached the height of their popularity during different eras, they forged a surprising friendship over the years.

Of course, Lucille Ball became a household name in the 1950s with the premiere of I Love Lucy in 1951. The sitcom was the most successful show of the decade, and helped launch two of her other popular shows in the 1960s.

Carol Burnett burst onto the scene in 1967 with The Carol Burnett Show, a critically lauded sketch comedy show that lasted an incredible 11 seasons.

Although the two comedians ruled television during different decades, their paths crossed multiple times. 

The pair first met backstage at Burnett's Broadway show, Once Upon a Mattress, in 1959

"She called me 'kid' because she was 22 years older than I," Burnett said at the SAG Awards last year. "Just as she was leaving, she said, 'Kid, if you ever need me for anything, give me a call."

Burnett called in the favor a few years later when CBS approached her about doing a variety special. The network told Burnett she could do the special only if she could get a big name, so naturally she contacted the funniest person on television. 

The special ended up being Carol +2 and premiered on March 22, 1966. It eventually lead to Burnett's eponymous show a year later. 

The years of work and camaraderie turned into a very close friendship. Ball appeared on The Carol Burnett Show four times in the first four years, and she even hosted Burnett's baby shower. We can only imagine how much fun that would have been to attend!

"It was a black-tie baby shower! With men attending," Burnett joked. "It was one of the funniest evenings ever."

Throughout the years, the two remained close. Ball created the tradition of sending Burnett flowers on her birthday every year. In 1989, that happened to be the day Ball passed away.

"She would always send me flowers on my birthday," Burnett said. "She died on April 26th. That afternoon, I got flowers from her that said, 'Happy Birthday, kid."

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