‘The Carol Burnett Show’: Mrs. Wiggins Waddled Thanks to Bob Mackie

Throughout its 11-year run, The Carol Burnett Show featured many memorable and often eccentric characters. From Eunice and Thelma Harper to Mrs. Wiggins, who could forget the ease at which Burnett slipped into various funny ladies in the variety-based TV show

Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 6, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California | Jon Kopaloff / Stringer

While on Live with Kelly and Ryan, Burnett discussed Mrs. Wiggins, noting that the “IQ fairy never visited her,” meaning, the character “wouldn’t have a sense of humor.” Burnett explained that she couldn’t laugh as Mrs. Wiggins because the jokes would go over her head. Thus, Burnett used to bite her finger — though it looked like she was biting her fingernails — so she wouldn’t break character. Burnett went on to explain how the character came to be, as she was initially supposed to be yet another elderly woman. 

Carol Burnett discusses Mrs. Wiggins’ origin story 

Burnett told Kelly Ripa and guest host Michael Weatherly that she “loved doing Mrs. Wiggins,” who Tim Conway (actor/writer/director known for McHale’s Navy, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and more) wrote. Initially, Conway wrote Higgins to be a “doddering old lady,” according to Burnett. Burnett joked that such a character would be easy for her to play today.

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When Burnett went in for her costume fitting, Bob Mackie (the ingenious costume designer known for Cher’s most iconic looks) said “you’ve done a lot of old ladies recently; let’s make her this bimbo.” From there, they began to assemble the outfit for a younger, mindless woman. 

How advice from Bob Mackie led to the famous Mrs. Wiggins walk in ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ 

Burnett explained that Mackie put her in a “push-up bra…a wig and the whole thing.” She then put on a “tight black skirt” that had “been in the closet for years.” Yet, the skirt was too big on her, because, as Burnett noted she’s “flat back there.” Yet, rather than taking in the skirt, Mackie said, “stick your behind into the skirt.”

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From that moment on, the Wiggins’ walk went on to become part of the character’s main shtick. And, the youthful bimbo remains one of Burnett’s most memorable ladies. While many people thought she was padded in the butt region, she was not, explained Burnett.

Burnett merely pushed out her butt, so that the skirt would not fall, and it aligned well with the character’s personality. Mackie made a decision that would lead to the Mrs. Wiggins waddle fans still love today, and often ask Burnett to do.