George Burns


Actor
George Burns

About

Also Known As
Jimmy Malone, Nathan Birnbaum, Jed Jackson, Eddie Delight, Jack Harris, Willie Saks, George N. Burns
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
January 20, 1896
Died
March 09, 1996

Biography

After several unsuccessful attempts at a vaudeville career, Burns's luck changed in 1923, when he formed the Burns and Allen duo with young comic Gracie Allen (he would marry her in 1926). Gracie at first played the "straight man," but her wacky descriptions of her large family managed to garner all the laughs and the team wisely reversed roles. Having become vaudeville stars, the team a...

Photos & Videos

A Damsel in Distress - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Sunshine Boys - Publicity Stills

Family & Companions

Hannah Siegel
Wife
Vaudevillian. Burns' partner; first wife; Burns claimed marriage was annulled because it was never consumated.
Gracie Allen
Wife
Comedienne, actor. Married from January 7, 1926 until her death on August 28, 1964 from heart ailment.

Bibliography

"George Burns and the Hundred Yard Dash"
Morton Gottfried, Simon & Schuster (1996)
"100 Years, 100 Stories"
George Burns, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1996)
"Wisdom of the 90s"
George Burns and Hal Goldman, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1991)
"Gracie: A Love Story"
George Burns, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1988)

Notes

Burns recorded three country and western albums

When he underwent triple bypass surgery in 1974 at age 78, it was reported he was oldest person ever to have that operation

Biography

After several unsuccessful attempts at a vaudeville career, Burns's luck changed in 1923, when he formed the Burns and Allen duo with young comic Gracie Allen (he would marry her in 1926). Gracie at first played the "straight man," but her wacky descriptions of her large family managed to garner all the laughs and the team wisely reversed roles. Having become vaudeville stars, the team appeared in several short films, made their feature debut with "The Big Broadcast" (1932). With their low-keyed comic banter, Burns and Allen became a successful radio team and then starred in their own TV series from 1950 until Allen's retirement in 1958 (she died six years later). Burns continued his career as a solo comedian and made an outstanding film comeback in 1975 with his award-winning performance as a cantankerous old vaudevillian in "The Sunshine Boys." He subsequently appeared in several features, notably as the omniscient title character of Carl Reiner's "Oh, God!" (1977), and continued to smoke his trademark cigars, talk-sing his charming vaudeville-based patter songs, and wryly joke about his ageless virility and various other ups and downs about growing old. As he had promised for years, Burns did indeed make it to age 100 and his centennial birthday was celebrated nationally. Seven weeks later, Burns died in his sleep of natural causes on March 9, 1996.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Waikiki, in the Wake of Dreams (2001)
Himself
Radioland Murders (1994)
Wisecracks (1991)
Himself
18 Again! (1988)
Oh, God! You Devil (1984)
God; Harry O Tophet
Two of a Kind (1982)
Ross "Boppy" Minor
Oh God! Book II (1980)
God
Just You And Me, Kid (1979)
Going in Style (1979)
Joe
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Mr Kite
The Comedy Company (1978)
Himself
Movie Movie (1978)
Oh, God! (1977)
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)
Honolulu (1939)
Joe Duffy
College Swing (1938)
George Jones
A Damsel in Distress (1937)
George
The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936)
Mr. Platt
College Holiday (1936)
George Hymen
Love in Bloom (1935)
George
Here Comes Cookie (1935)
George Burns
The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935)
George
Six of a Kind (1934)
George Edward[s]
Many Happy Returns (1934)
[George] Burns
We're Not Dressing (1934)
George
International House (1933)
Doctor Burns
College Humor (1933)
George Burns
The Big Broadcast (1932)
George Burns

Music (Feature Film)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Song Performer ("Fixing A Hole" "For The Benefit Of Mr Kite")

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Waikiki, in the Wake of Dreams (2001)
Other
Wisecracks (1991)
Other
The Comedy Company (1978)
Other

Cast (Special)

100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time (2004)
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies (1995)
Montreal International Comedy Festival '93 (1993)
More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace (1993)
60 Minutes... 25 Years (1993)
Legend to Legend Night (1993)
Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years (1993)
The First Annual Comedy Hall of Fame (1993)
Performer
What Is This Thing Called Love? (1993)
1995 Screen Actors Guild Awards (1992)
Jack Benny: Comedy in Bloom (1992)
John Denver's Montana Christmas Skies (1991)
Voice
George Burns' 95th Birthday Party (1991)
The Meaning of Life (1991)
Bob Hope's "Don't Shoot, It's Only Me" (1990)
Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet to Come (1990)
Bob Hope's Super Bowl Party (1989)
The Television Academy Hall of Fame (1989)
Performer
Fifty Years of Television: A Golden Celebration (1989)
Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening (1989)
Bob Hope's Love Affair With Lucy (1989)
Disney's Magic in the Magic Kingdom (1988)
The 2nd Annual American Comedy Awards (1988)
Performer
America's Tribute to Bob Hope (1988)
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1988)
Happy Birthday, Bob -- 50 Stars Salute Your 50 Years With NBC (1988)
Super Picnic '87 (1987)
NBC Investigates Bob Hope (1987)
Paris By Night With George Burns (1987)
Host
Caesar's 20th Birthday Celebration (1987)
Candid Camera: The First 40 Years (1987)
A Beverly Hills Christmas (1987)
The 38th Annual Emmy Awards (1986)
Performer
George Burns' 90th Birthday Special (1986)
Bob Hope Lampoons the New TV Scene (1986)
Whatta Year... 1986 (1986)
Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes All-Star 50th Anniversary (1986)
Born America: A March of Dimes Television Event (1986)
An All-Star Tribute to General Jimmy Doolittle (1986)
Bob Hope Lampoons Television 1985 (1985)
Guest
Bob Hope Buys NBC? (1985)
Walt Disney World's Happy Easter Parade (1985)
The Night of 100 Stars II (1985)
George Burns: An Hour of Jokes and Songs (1984)
Host
George Burns' How to Live to Be 100 (1984)
Host
The Funniest Joke I Ever Heard (1984)
Parade of Stars (1983)
Grandpa, Will You Run With Me? (1983)
Host
The Kids From Fame (1983)
Host
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Road to Hollywood (1983)
Guest
Bob Hope Special: Happy Birthday, Bob! (1983)
George Burns Celebrates 80 Years in Show Business (1983)
George Burns and Other Sex Symbols (1982)
Host
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope Laughs With the Movie Awards (1982)
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's 30th Anniversary TV Special (1981)
A Love Letter to Jack Benny (1981)
Host
George Burns in Nashville? (1981)
100 Years of America's Popular Music (1981)
George Burns' Early, Early, Early, Christmas Show (1981)
Host
John Denver With His Special Guest George Burns: Two of a Kind (1981)
Host
Ann-Margret's Hollywood Movie Girls (1980)
George Burns' 100th Birthday Party (1979)
Host
The Other Broadway (1979)
CBS: On the Air (1978)
The Goldie Hawn Special (1978)
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's All-Star Tribute to the Palace Theater (1978)
Circus of the Stars (1977)
The George Burns Special (1976)
The Rich Little Show (1975)
Jack Benny's Second Farewell Show (1974)
One More Time (1974)
Ann-Margret -- When You're Smiling (1973)
The Many Faces of Comedy (1973)
The Osmond Brothers Show (1971)
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jack Benny but Were Afraid to Ask (1971)
George Burns in the Big Time (1959)
Host

Writer (Special)

George Burns: An Hour of Jokes and Songs (1984)
Writer

Music (Special)

Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening (1989)
Song Performer

Special Thanks (Special)

George Burns: An Hour of Jokes and Songs (1984)
Writer

Cast (Short)

The Lion Roars Again (1975)
Himself
That's Entertainment! (Gala Premiere) (1974)
Himself
A Look at the World of "Soylent Green" (1973)
Himself
Lambchops (1929)

Misc. Crew (Short)

Excavating the 2000 Year Old Man (2012)
Archival Footage

Life Events

1923

Teamed with Gracie Allen; performed on Keith and Orpheum vaudeville circuits

1929

Appeared with Allen in 10-minute short film "Lamb Chops", the first of over a dozen shorts for Paramount

1930

"Burns and Allen" show first premiered on radio

1932

Feature film debut, "The Big Broadcast"

1939

Last film before 35-year break from screen, "Honolulu"

1950

"Burns and Allen" show premiered on TV

1958

Began performing as solo comedian after Gracie Allen retired

1964

Gracie Allen died

1975

Returned to screen in "The Sunshine Boys"; won Oscar as Best Supporting Actor

1976

Portrayed the Almighty in "Oh, God"; reprised role in two sequels

1994

Final film, "Radioland Murders"

Photo Collections

A Damsel in Distress - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken during production of RKO's A Damsel in Distress (1937), directed by George Stevens and starring Fred Astaire, Joan Fontaine, and George Burns & Gracie Allen.
The Sunshine Boys - Publicity Stills
Here are some Publicity Stills from The Sunshine Boys (1975). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Honolulu (1939) - I'm Liable To Get Killed! Movie star Brooks (Robert Young) recovering from the last time he was mobbed during an east-coast PR swing, getting out of the hospital with the help of hustling agent Duffy (George Burns), with a poor result, in MGM’s Honolulu, 1939, also starring Eleanor Powell and Gracie Allen.
Honolulu (1939) - Throw Myself At Him? Robert Young, in a dual role, here is movie star Books Mason, who’s traded places with his look-alike Hawaiian plantation owner George, cruising home for two weeks of peace and quiet, when he’s recognized by cruise ship entertainer Millie (Gracie Allen), who must tell pal Dot (Eleanor Powell), the first scene for both gals, in MGM’s Honolulu, 1939.
Honolulu (1939) - Title Song Cruise ship entertainers Millie (Gracie Allen) and Dot (Eleanor Powell) persuaded to perform, the title song, an original by Harry Warren and Gus Kahn, Gracie with the vocal then Eleanor, choreographed by Bobby Connelly, handling the jump rope with ease, in Honolulu, 1939, from MGM and producer Jack Cummings.
College Humor (1933) - Colleen Of Killarney Mary Kornman is daffy co-ed Amber, inquiring with George Burns and Gracie Allen, who appear here unbidden in their first scene, using their own names, before their radio show, known mostly at the time for Paramount one-reelers, maneuvering into an un-credited song, in Paramount’s sprawling College Humor, 1933.
College Swing (1938) - When You Get To Be A Professor Gracie Allen is Gracie “Alden,” in the 200-year old original structure of the college her family stands to inherit if she, on this last chance, can pass a graduation exam, cheating miraculously from a laundry list, George Burns her interrogator representing the administration, Cecil Cunningham on the board, in College Swing, 1938.
College Swing (1938) - You Will Positively Graduate! After she played her ancestor in a colonial prologue, Gracie Allen is the last member of her wealthy family with the chance 200-years later to take ownership of the college by graduating, and Bob Hope introduces himself as an eager tutor after her fees, early in Paramount’s College Swing, 1938, also starring George Burns.
Going In Style (1979) - I Never Forget To Flush Writer-director Martin Brest finds his three leads on a park bench in Brooklyn, Art Carney as Al, Lee Strasberg as Willie and George Burns as Joe, opening the whimsical geriatric crime-comedy Going In Style, 1979.
Oh, God! (1977) - God Grants You An Interview Extreme ordinary from director Carl Reiner, the singer and sometime actor John Denver is an LA grocery manager, Teri Garr his somewhat distracted wife, script by longtime Reiner collaborator Larry Gelbart, from a book by Avery Corman, opening the 1977 comedy Oh, God!, starring George Burns.
Oh, God! (1977) - You're Not Allowed To See Me LA grocery manager Jerry (John Denver) is irked because the note he got inviting him to an interview with God keeps popping up, so he goes to the address and discovers the voice of George Burns on an intercom, early in the Carl Reiner/Larry Gelbart comedy hit Oh, God!, 1977.
Oh, God! (1977) - Life Is a Crap Shoot Third day for grocery manager Jerry (John Denver) in his inexplicable encounter with “God,” showering when the supreme being appears in person for the first time, George Burns, the same voice from the previous day, giving not quite satisfactory explanations, in director Carl Reiner’s Oh, God!, 1977.
Damsel In Distress, A (1937) - Stiff Upper Lip Just the first part of the endless amusement-park dance number staged by Hermes Pan, with Fred Astaire, George Burns and Gracie Allen, frolicking to George and Ira Gershwin's original Stiff Upper Lip, from A Damsel In Distress, 1937.
Sunshine Boys, The (1975) - Gypsy Chiropractor Upon reaching a shaky agreement to do a reunion show, old-time comics Willy Clark (Walter Matthau) and Al Lewis (George Burns) attempt to rehearse, in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, 1975.

Trailer

Family

Sandra Luckman
Daughter
Teacher. Adopted; teaches elementary school in San Diego.
Ronnie Burns
Son
Actor. Adopted; involved in investments and real estate.

Companions

Hannah Siegel
Wife
Vaudevillian. Burns' partner; first wife; Burns claimed marriage was annulled because it was never consumated.
Gracie Allen
Wife
Comedienne, actor. Married from January 7, 1926 until her death on August 28, 1964 from heart ailment.

Bibliography

"George Burns and the Hundred Yard Dash"
Morton Gottfried, Simon & Schuster (1996)
"100 Years, 100 Stories"
George Burns, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1996)
"Wisdom of the 90s"
George Burns and Hal Goldman, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1991)
"Gracie: A Love Story"
George Burns, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1988)
"Dr. Burns' Prescription for Happiness"
George Burns, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1985)
"Dear George: Advice and Answers from America's Leading Expert on Everything From A to Z"
George Burns, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1985)
"How to Live to Be 100: or More!"
George Burns, G.P. Putnam's Sons (1983)
"The Third Time Around"
George Burns (1980)
"Living It Up, or They Still Love Me in Altoona!"
George Burns (1976)
"I Love Her, That's Why"
George Burns and Cynthia Lindsay (1955)
"The Ultimate Diet, Sex and Exercise Book"
George Burns

Notes

Burns recorded three country and western albums

When he underwent triple bypass surgery in 1974 at age 78, it was reported he was oldest person ever to have that operation

Inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1988

The week before his 95th birthday Burns quipped, "I never felt better, never looked better, never made love better--and never lied better." --From New York Post. January 17, 1991.

Concerning his monthly visit to Gracie Allen's grave at Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles he said, "I talk to her. Sometimes I tell her a joke, but Gracie doesn't laugh. She's heard all my jokes." --From New York Post, January 17, 1991.

"I did 15 or 20 acts before I met Gracie, and they were all flops. I worked with a dog, a seal, anything that would work with me. The act was so bad the seal used to throw the fish back." --George Burns describing his early vaudeville career to New York Post, January 17, 1991.

Burns serves as one of several Proctors (along with Billy Crystal and Buddy Hackett) for the Friars Club