Carol Burnett once used her ''Tarzan'' yell to prove her identity. After, she vowed to never do it in public again

''I looked around... there was nobody else on that floor but me and these two salespeople. And I did it.''

On Now
Carol Burnett shows off her iconic Tarzan yell!
Up Next:

The ability to make people laugh was a natural one for Carol Burnett. Millions of people know the name, the show and the decades of comedy she gifted to the world. She's known for her red hair, witty responses and her high-pitched yell. Yes, the Tarzan yell.

One of the classiest comedic personalities in Hollywood, Burnett could let her vocal cords ring with no end in sight. Her famous yell appeared on The Carol Burnett Show countless times, and she said the most frequently asked question during the famous Q+A sessions was "Can you do your Tarzan yell." 

Burnett has never been the one to turn down a request such as this one to a fan, but she did have to draw the line after she belted out the yell while shopping.

"I'd do the Tarzan yell at the drop of a hat, except in public, I won't do it anymore," Burnett said in a 1992 interview with ABC News.

Her reason for only doing the howl in a controlled setting was a good one. 

The story goes that one morning when she was shopping at a non-busy Bergdorf Goodman, a high-end department store, she mistakenly brought the wrong wallet with her, one that didn't have her charge card for the "expensive stuff" she was looking to buy. 

"A salesperson asked me if I would do the Tarzan yell and it was the only way I could get my check cashed," Burnett said. 

With no credit card or driver's license on her, the store was set to let the lack of identification slide if she performed one of her classic screams. 

"[The saleswoman] said, 'I'll clear this check if you'll do the Tarzan yell for us.' I looked around... there was nobody else up on that floor but me and these two salespeople. And I did it." 

Nobody was expecting what came next. 

"The door burst open from the stairway and a security guard had a gun" Burnett explained. The guard, thinking some sort of serious altercation was happening because of the ear-piercing screech came running in gun drawn. 

Recalling the incident in the interview, Burnett shook her head and simply said, "I don't do it anymore in public." 

Watch The Carol Burnett Show on MeTV!

Weeknights at 11 PM
Sundays at 10:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

20 Comments

wanderer2575 8 months ago
I may be in the minority, but I can't stand her Tarzan yell. Every time MeTV shows a clip of her doing it, I instantly hit Mute or switch channels.
Coldnorth wanderer2575 8 months ago
I completely agree with you. I can’t stand the pitch and volume. And the biggest question is why did she start doing it
kkvegas Coldnorth 8 months ago
I read in her memoir One More Time that when she was a child she and her friends used to act out the movies they saw, and she started doing the Tarzan yell at that time. Her friends loved it, and I guess she just incorporated it into her professional life.
Coldnorth kkvegas 8 months ago
Thanks for the insight. Very interesting
Beta6 Coldnorth 8 months ago
Have to agree. That's the ONLY thing I don't care for though.
Coldnorth Beta6 8 months ago
The shows skits were hilarious. I even liked the audiences questions. The Tarzan yell was the one thing I hated
Andybandit 8 months ago
That Tarzan tell of hers is so hilarious.
KJExpress 8 months ago
Funny. Sounds like something that would have happened on one of her CBS sketches.
cperrynaples 8 months ago
Bonus Question: On whose show did she introduce the yell and what character did she play? Hint: It wasn't in the jungle and it wasn't Jack Benny!
Yep, that's from The Garry Moore Show!
harlow1313 LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Well, being a curmudgeon, I don't like much of anything, but I rather liked this.
LoveMETV22 harlow1313 8 months ago
LOL. Glad you enjoyed. You are a likeable curmudgeon. Always enjoy your comments.😃
LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Great story. The "video interview" link in the story was a nice added touch to the article, thanks MeTV.
It would be great in future stories if that could be done, provided that there is a video clip " specific to the article."
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Often in your articles a mention is made of interviews with newspapers or news sources,
Example: In a 19__ or 20__ interview with "The (Insert any news source here)" if a link, maybe done
via Google docs, could be included in the article. Not necessarily every article but @ MeTV's discretion, some of the more substantial ones. Just a thought.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 8 months ago
I second LoveMETV22's request. Those of us who are always hungry for more, would so appreciate the hyperlinks! The interviews you find is wonderful research, thank you!
Sway 8 months ago
Funny story. Salespeople asking for the Tarzan yell for ID, good thinking smirk:
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?