Back to Articles

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

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." 

Contact | About | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Advertise | Distribution | Do Not Sell My Information - CA Residents