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HomeRelationshipsDon Saroyan: Facts About Carol Burnett’s First Husband

Don Saroyan: Facts About Carol Burnett’s First Husband

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Don Saroyan was the first man Carol Burnett said “I do” to. 

Burnett is a famous actress, comedian, singer, and writer with a successful career that kicked off in 1955. She and Saroyan were together long before fame found her. They may have lasted longer together if two things had not happened, but those things did happen. 

Keep reading to learn more about Don Saroyan and the two things that cost him his relationship with Carol Burnett. 

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Carol Burnett and Don Saroyan
Carol Burnett and Don Saroyan. (Source: Pinterest)

Don Saroyan’s Early Life 

Saroyan is best known as the first husband of Carol Burnett, even though he was also an entertainer. He had a career in Hollywood, but the little success he enjoyed was like a flash in the pan compared to the stardom Burnett came to possess. It became one of the reasons their marriage was doomed to fail. 

The late actor was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 4, 1928. His parents were Anna and Harvey Saroyan, a couple who ran a dry cleaning plant in Omaha and later a drive-through restaurant. 

His early life was fraught with tragedy. He first lost his brother a few months after his birth. Then, his mother joined him in the afterlife not long after. His father, Harvey, died next. At the time of his demise, Don Saroyan was in his late 20s.  

At age 18, he got married and moved to Philadelphia. There, the couple became parents to a child Don adored. Unfortunately, their union was not built to last, and it fell apart after they moved to Omaha. They ultimately got divorced, after which the woman left with their child. 

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Down but not out, Saroyan decided to start afresh in Los Angeles. He enrolled at the University of California and subsequently developed a passion for the theater arts. He loved Broadway and yearned to become a director. Then, he met Carol Burnett. 

How Did Don Saroyan and Carol Burnett Meet?

Don Saroyan met Carol Burnett in college, and she became his sweetheart. They were introduced by a mutual friend, Peggy McKenna, at UCLA in 1952. It did not take long for the pair to fall in love, and they promptly started dating. 

They were the perfect couple. Burnett told Saroyan all about her challenging background, and he came to respect her as a “brave soul going through a struggle.”

The pair would go on dates at Village Delicatessen in Westwood, where they would talk about the theater, show business, and what their future would look like when they hit it big on Broadway. Following their graduation, the lovebirds moved to New York together to pursue their dreams. 

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Carol Burnett and Don Saroyan
Carol Burnett and Don Saroyan. (Source: Pinterest)

Who Is the Unknown Man Who Helped Carol Burnett and Don Saroyan?

Moving to a new area was not an easy task back in the 50s. One needed funds for a successful relocation, and neither Saroyan nor Burnett had enough to move. 

Things changed after an unidentified man offered the pair a $1,000 interest-free loan. He had learned that Burnett wanted to travel to New York to attempt musical comedy but could not afford the trip.

This man gave the couple the money, but the condition was that they pay back the loan in five years. After that, they wasted no time leaving for New York, where they started pursuing their careers. The man who helped the couple was never identified.

What Happened Between Don Saroyan and Carol Burnett? 

Saroyan and Burnett tied the knot in 1955 while things seemed to be going well for their careers. They had caught the eyes of famous producers, and the future was looking bright. 

The first blow to their union came after Don Saroyan lost his daughter in a senseless death. The tragedy left him devastated, and their marriage suffered as he retreated into himself and lost some of his passion for showbiz.

While his career seemed to decline, Burnett’s was waxing stronger. She was more focused on making it, and it was evident in her progress. Her success and his lack of it quickly became an issue in their marriage. Things went steadily downhill for them from there until they got divorced four years later.

The pair separated on Christmas Day in 1959, and according to Burnett, there was no argument because they were already leading parallel lives at that point. The divorce was an amicable one, and they never had kids together. 

Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett. (Source: Pinterest)

Don Saroyan’s Death

After the divorce, Don Saroyan remained friends with Burnett and kept working in the entertainment industry. His last on-screen appearances were in the TV series “The Magical World of Disney” and the movie “Airwolf.

He passed away at 62 in Los Angeles County and was buried in Hollywood Hills. The cause of death was not revealed. Other couples like Saroyan and Burnett, who remained friends after divorce, include Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz, and Mick and Bianca Jagger. 

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