Carol Burnett Explains How Lucille Ball Got a NSFW Nickname

Carol Burnett Explains How Lucille Ball Got a NSFW Nickname
Carol Burnett
John Nowak

01/21/2016 AT 11:30 PM EST

Carol Burnett, 82, says it was her good friend Lucille Ball who gave her some very valuable career advice.

Over dinner one night, Ball explained to Burnett that during her years on I Love Lucy with husband and co-star Desi Arnaz, it was Arnaz who dealt with the writing, lighting, and many other day-to-day operations on the show.

But after Arnaz and Ball divorced in 1960, that all changed.

"Lucy told me when she got a divorce she had to do all the stuff that Desi did and the first table read on the Lucy Show stunk."



After the disastrous table read, Ball went into her office and realized at that moment she had to be bold and take charge.

"She said to me, 'Kid, that is when they put the 'S' on the end of my last name,'" Burnett tells PEOPLE in this week's issue on stands Friday.

Burnett, who will be honored with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award on Jan. 30, says when she did the Carol Burnett Show in 1967, it was difficult for a woman to take the reins.

"If I spoke up or did what Jackie Gleason did... Men could get away with it. But in my era, I would have been labeled a bitch."

Burnett quickly learned how to tip-toe around a work problem.

"Instead of saying, 'guys this stinks we've got to fix it,' I would say, 'I am not doing this right, can you help me out here?' "
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