Anthony Hopkins was in the Carol Burnett Show audience for its most famous sketch
He witnessed one of the show’s funniest moments live.
The Carol Burnett Show had no shortage of famous guests. Dick Van Dyke and Jim Nabors appeared over a dozen times each. Stars like Andy Griffith, Betty White, Alan Alda, Maggie Smith and Cher all stopped by to have fun with Burnett and the other cast members.
Another famous actor you can add to the list, though he wasn't in any sketches, is Anthony Hopkins. In 1976, the 38-year-old attended a taping of the hit sketch show. Though he was a somewhat known actor, Hopkins had barely begun the career for which he is famous.
By that time, Hopkins had been in several British TV shows, including an epic mini-series adaptation of War & Peace. He had also appeared in films like The Lion in Winter, The Looking Glass War and The Girl from Petrovka with Goldie Hawn. But his role as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man was still four years away and his Oscar-winning turn as Hannibal Lector wouldn't come for 15 years.
Still, Burnett introduced him as "my favorite actor today." Hopkins gave Burnett a friendly wink as the crowd applauded.
Little did he know, it would be one of the single best episodes of the show's entire run. It would cement its place in comedy history with its parody of Gone with the Wind. As extravagant as it is outrageously funny, "Went with the Wind" features one of the best sight-gags ever put on television. In the film, Scarlett O'Hara wears a striking dress made out of window curtains. In Burnett's version, she does the same but forgets to take the curtain rod out!
The crowd roared with laughter at the sight of Burnett in the costume. The folks in the studio that day were the first to experience the iconic moment. The fact that a future Oscar winner was among them makes it all the better.