NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love

Remember When Carol Burnett Guest Starred on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?

The iconic actress and comedian was nominated for an Emmy for her 2009 appearance.

By Constance Johnson
Carol Burnett's Legendary SVU Performance - Law & Order: SVU

Carol Burnett is probably best known for her comedic skills, but she also has an impressive list of dramatic roles—like her Emmy-nominated turn as Bridgette “Birdie” Sulloway on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2009.

Many of her iconic performances will be recognized in the upcoming NBC special Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love. The special airs on her 90th birthday, April 26, 2023. 

In the scene from the Season 10 SVU episode above, Birdie comes to the police station and writes a check to pay for the funeral expenses of the woman her husband is suspected of murdering. She tells Det. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) that she wants to atone for her husband’s callousness and boorish behavior.

But there is more to Birdie than just a horrified wife of a rapist and multiple murderer, as the episode eventually reveals.

Keep reading for more information on her Emmy-nominated role on the show, as well as how to watch the whole episode.

Carol Burnett's Character on Law & Order: SVU

Season 10, Episode 16 ("Ballerina"), 2009

Carol Burnett on Law And Order Svu

Birdie entered the episode as the owner of a building with a seedy dance club, where a raped murder victim worked. She told Dets. Benson and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) that her current, fifth husband, Marv Sulloway (Vincent Curatola), bought it for her because she'd owned the dance studio that used to be there. 

While there, the detectives also met Birdie’s so-called nephew, Chet Sulloway (Matthew Lillard). Eventually, Birdie told police that he's the son of one of her old friends, and that she had raised him after he lost his parents.

With Birdie's help, the cops linked Marv to the murder of the dancer and her boyfriend but, as they arrived to arrest him, he fell to his death. They suspected he was pushed, and Chet pointed the finger at Birdie, who also admitted her relationship with her "nephew" had turned sexual when he turned 18.

After her arraignment, it was revealed both that Birdie was terminally ill and didn't have long to live... and that all her former husbands had died under suspicious circumstances.

To find out what happens, stream "Ballerina" (and other episodes of SVU) on Peacock.

Carol Burnett's Emmy Nod for Law & OrderSVU

Burnett lost out on the Emmy win for her told as Birdie to Ellen Burstyn, who won for her role as Stabler’s mother, Bernadette. Burstyn has appeared multiple times as Bernadette in the SVU spin-off, Law & Order: Organized Crime.

Burnett has a total 23 Emmy nominations. She's won six times for her work in: The Garry Moore ShowJulie and Carol at Carnegie Hall; The Carol Burnett Show; and Mad About You, in which she played star Helen Hunt's mother.

She's also won seven Golden Globes (of 18 nominations), including the Carol Burnett Award to honor excellence in television (akin to the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoring achievement in film). The Hollywood Foreign Press Association named the award after Burnett in 2018 and she was the first recipient at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2019. 

Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love airs Wednesday, April 26 at 8/7c on NBC and will stream the next day on Peacock.