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Sending Prayers For Carol Burnett

Off The Record

Sending Prayers For Carol Burnett

Carol Burnett will have a party to honor her 90th birthday later this month.

While Burnett’s nine decades have been full of professional achievements, they have also been marred by tragedy, most notably the 2002 passing of her daughter Carrie Hamilton, one of three daughters she had with her second husband, Joe Hamilton.

“There’s not a day or almost a moment goes by that she’s not with me,” Burnett tells PEOPLE. “We worked together, we laughed together, we cried together. She was a force.”

Hamilton followed in her mother’s footsteps as an actor. She played the lead role of Reggie Higgins in the TV series Fame and also appeared in the films Tokyo Pop and Shag.

Burnett and Hamilton worked together on several projects, including an episode of Carol & Company in 1990 and the play Hollywood Arms, which was adapted from Burnett’s autobiography.

Since her 2002 diagnosis of lung and brain cancer, Hamilton has battled both drug addiction and the disease itself. In January of that year, at age 38, she passed away.

“When she got sick, I remember she was in the hospital and I would go to see her every day,” Burnett recalls. “One day, a nurse at the hospital said, ‘Carrie cheers us up.’ I asked Carrie why she was always cheerful, and her reply was, ‘Everyday I wake up and decide.’ That’s the key word, decide.”

That’s why, as Burnett puts it now, “I say that to myself every morning.”

He’s won six Golden Globes, so he knows how precarious life can be.

“It’s taking [it] one day at a time,” Burnett says. “You don’t know. Life can change on a dime. So just be grateful for today what you have.”

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