Grandma Sue | Just Talkin’

30 Jul


My family is quirky. My family is hilarious. We have this sort of awesome dysfunctional thang down pat and I love it. It’s all I have ever known since I was a small child so I am used to the craziness. My Grandma Sue in particular is special. She has lived an incredibly interesting life. One of my favorite stories to hear from her is about the time she attended The Carol Burnett Show in 1969. My Dad, Great Grandma Opal, and Grandma had tickets. My Dad tells an incredibly entertaining version of the struggle of getting my Great Grandma Opal’s wheel chair up several stairs as a line of people huffed and puffed behind him in irritation as they headed to their seats.

For those of you unfamiliar with Carol Burnett, she hosted a Ellen/SNL type show of her day. Her show was super popular and won lots of awards.

In 1969 my Grandma Sue bravely raised her hand while sitting in the audience and asked Carol Burnett a question. She had written a song for Burnett and wanted to know if she would sing it. Six months later my Grandma and Grandpa were invited back to witness the magic.

I asked my Grandma to write about this memory so I could have it forever. Her story is below. Enjoy.

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Memories came flooding back when Vogel asked me to remember what it was like to have Carol Burnett sing a song I wrote for her.

Six months before the episode using my song aired, I had given Carol the sheet music during the Questions and Answers segment that opened her shows.

I had said a prayer that if it looked like I was supposed to do this out of the ordinary thing let me know somehow. Well, when I was seated center stage, three rows back, I knew my prayer had been answered.

When I raised my hand to ask my question, Carol acknowledged me. I said, “I’ve written a song for you.”  She had me come up on stage, I showed her the music, and it went from there. The rest is history as they say. This first show I attended was the launch pad so to speak.

For those not familiar with the actress, comedienne, The Carol Burnett Show was extremely popular from 1967 to 1978. It aired weekly on CBS Television Network. Over those years, the show won 25 Emmy Awards, eight Golden Globes, and three People’s Choice. On October 20, 2013, at Kennedy Center, Burnett was presented the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The episode my song was in aired November 24, 1969. The song, “Just Talkin'” is about a tired housewife and mother who would like a short break from her daily routine. She daydreams about taking a trip to foreign lands and having adventures, “While hubby’s asleep and the kids have gone outside to play.”

No one connected to the show would tell me how the song would be presented. During phone calls I would be gently told, “You’ll see.”

Written instructions for the night of the show were to go to the entrance for artists and wait for further instructions. When my husband Sonny and I arrived and introduced ourselves, our escort smiled and said, “Oh good you’re here. We’ve been waiting for you. Follow me.”  When I asked him what Carol was going to do he gave me a big smile and the usual, “You’ll see.”

He led us to special seats near the front. No one else was allowed to sit in them. I found out later that was because cameras were trained on us taking our pictures throughout the part of the show featuring my song. Later on, CBS sent us still copies of those photos plus a reel to reel tape of my song’s production, then later, a video tape. Eventually, I had the video copied to a DVD.

THE SHOW: For the next six minutes, I sat transfixed by the spectacle. There was my name, SUE VOGELSANGER, spelled out using enormous black letters that could be moved around to also spell things like Sue’s Song, Love, and others. Carol later told me you could spell a lot of words with that name.

Six men dancers in black tuxedos with white shirts and white bow ties did their routines along with five girl dancers. The girls wore ankle-length, full-skirted, gowns in shades of apricot, turquoise, chartreuse, pink, and lavender. Carol’s was white with sequins. Later, I figured out they needed the extra male dancer to help Carol with her routine.

As the song was being played to a jazz waltz tempo, dancers not only did their steps, but while dancing, some also helped move the big letters around to spell various words or combinations of them.

Carol continued singing the song as she performed her part of the routine.

By then, I was in a sort of trance but at the end thunderous audience applause snapped me back to reality.

The whole wonderful thing was surreal to me and I was astounded by all of it. I still am.

Since that time, Carol and I have corresponded a few times and I have seen her twice in St. Louis, Missouri productions. The first was at the open air Municipal Opera in Forest Park, the other at Fox Theater. Both times Sonny and I were invited backstage to meet with Carol.

I feel beyond fortunate to know her.


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A fun article about my Grandma can be found HERE.

Thank you, Grandma Sue, for sharing your story and allowing me to publish it on my blog. Love you.


Your Granddaughter, Vogel



8 Responses to “Grandma Sue | Just Talkin’”

  1. Sue Vogelsanger July 31, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Hi Erin, a.k.a. Vogel,

    You did a very, very good job of editing. Gold Star time !!!!!

    G’ma Sue

  2. Eric Patterson, Th.D. May 7, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

    Did you know that the full episode had been released on DVD in high definition? I found your blog because after watching that segment of the show on DVD I was interested to know if they were still alive and what happened in her life. I’m glad to know it brought her such happiness.

    • vogelshappinessproject May 8, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

      REALLY?!?! Would you mind sending me the info? I’d love to get a copy. My Grandma is alive and well. She lives in Missouri and still keeps in touch with Carol.

      • Eric Patterson, Th.D. May 8, 2017 at 3:16 pm #

        Glad to help. It’s on the DVD box set called “The Carol Burnett Show – The Lost Episodes”. If you buy it on eBay you can get it for less than $100. It doesn’t have every episode ever made, but in the episodes which are included they are full length. If you’re not into spending that much money I just looked on eBay and you can buy just the 6-disc set “The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes – Classic Carol 6-Disc Set” (make sure it is that specific set: lost episodes “Classic Carol”). The show with your grandmother is episode #310 aired Nov 24, 1969 featuring Lucille Ball and George Carlin. In that set it’s on disc number one.

  3. Eric Patterson, Th.D. May 8, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    The 6-disc set on eBay is item 172499356071 and is about $22. The 22-disc set is item 222470183224 and is about $90. Just go to eBay and enter the item number into the search field.

    • vogelshappinessproject May 8, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

      I can’t thank you enough!

      • Eric Patterson, Th.D. May 8, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

        I’m shocked that you didn’t know! The set has been out for I think two years now. Oh, and the item numbers I listed aren’t mine they are just of the people selling them for the lowest price in new condition. I just checked the DVD again (was playing it last night) and it’s disc 1 of the 6-disc set, episode #310, and the song begins about eleven minutes into that episode. Please make a blog post about seeing it. It would be fun to know the reaction of you and your grandmother seeing it in high def 🙂

  4. vogelshappinessproject May 8, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    I have seen it. My Grandma has is on VHS. I have always wanted my own copy of the actual show though. I appreciate all of the info.

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