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Author Composer Writer Performer : George Burns

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Famous Person: Birth name : Nathan Birnbaum / Stage Name : George Burns

Famous For: Vaudeville, Actor, Radio, Television,

Movie - Television Titles:

  • Radioland Murders (1994) .... Milt Lackey
  • 18 Again! (1988) .... Jack Watson
  • "George Burns Comedy Week" (1985) TV Series .... Host
  • Oh, God! You Devil (1984) .... God/Harry O. Tophet
  • Grandpa, Will You Run with Me? (1983) (TV)
  • Two of a Kind (1982) (TV) .... Ross 'Boppy' Minor ... aka GE Theater: Two of a Kind (USA: series title)
  • Oh, God! Book II (1980) .... God ... aka Tracy and Friend (USA: poster title)
  • Going in Style (1979) .... Joe
  • Just You and Me, Kid (1979) .... Bill
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) .... Mr. Kite ... aka Banda de los corazones
  • Oh, God! (1977) .... God
  • "Ellery Queen" ... aka The Adventures of Ellery Queen - The Adventure of Veronica's Veils (1975) TV Episode .... Sam Packer
  • The Sunshine Boys (1975) .... Al Lewis
  • The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians (1970) (TV) (voice)
  • Carnival Nights (1968) (TV) ... aka Jack Benny's Carnival Nights (USA: complete title)
  • All About People (1967) .... Narrator
  • "Wendy and Me" (1964) TV Series .... Mr. Burns
  • "General Electric Theater" ... aka G.E. Theater (USA: informal short title) - Platinum on the Rocks (1959) TV Episode .... Eddie Martin
  • "The Bob Cummings Show" ... aka Love That Bob (USA: rerun title) - Bob Butters Beck, Beck Butters Better (1958) TV Episode
  • "The George Burns Show" (1958) TV Series .... George Burns
  • "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" ... aka The Burns and Allen Show - Breaking Up the Team (1958) TV Episode .... George Burns - Divorce Attorney (1952) TV Episode .... George Burns - Free Trip to Hawaii (1952) TV Episode .... George Burns - Surprise Birthday Party (1951) TV Episode .... George Burns - The Beverly Hills Uplift Society (1951) TV Episode .... George Burns (7 more)
  • The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956) (voice) .... Narrator
  • "Shower of Stars" ... aka Chrysler Shower of Stars - Quentin Reynolds Writing the Life of Jack Benny (1956) TV Episode
  • Honolulu (1939) .... Joe Duffy
  • College Swing (1938) .... George Jonas ... aka Swing, Teacher, Swing (UK)
  • A Damsel in Distress (1937) .... George
  • College Holiday (1936) .... George Hymen
  • The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936) .... Mr. Platt
  • The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935) .... George
  • Here Comes Cookie (1935) .... Geoge Burns ... aka The Plot Thickens (UK)
  • Love in Bloom (1935) .... George
  • Many Happy Returns (1934) .... Burns
  • We're Not Dressing (1934) .... George Martin
  • Six of a Kind (1934) .... George Edwards
  • College Humor (1933) .... George
  • International House (1933) .... Doctor Burns
  • Let's Dance (1933) .... George, a sailor
  • The Big Broadcast (1932) .... George
  • The Babbling Book (1932) .... George Burns
  • Walking the Baby (1932) .... George
  • Your Hat (1932) .... George Burns
  • 100% Service (1931) .... George Burns ... aka One Hundred Percent Service
  • Once Over, Light (1931) (as Burns) .... Barbershop Customer)
  • The Antique Shop (1931) (as Burns) .... Customer
  • Pulling a Bone (1931) .... Man with bone
  • Fit to Be Tied (1931) (as Burns) .... A Tie Customer
  • Lambchops (1929) .... George Burns

Authors Description: George Burns moved in the course of his lengthy career from serving as a vaudeville straight man to being one of the grand old men of American show business--and an expert on the history of entertainment in the United States. The television program he shared with his wife, comedienne Gracie Allen, for eight years (1950 to 1958 on CBS) was central to Burns' professional life, chronologically and symbolically. According to accounts of his early life (all of which originate from Burns himself), he was drawn to show business as a small child, singing on street corners with friends for pennies, and never seriously considered any other calling. Burns floundered in vaudeville for years, changing his act with great frequency, until he met Allen in 1922 (or 1923; accounts vary), and the couple inaugurated the straight-man/"Dumb Dora" pairing they would enact for more than four decades. The team moved successfully into film and radio in the early 1930s and finally into television in October 1950. In The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Burns and Allen played versions of themselves, a show-business couple living in Beverly Hills, California. As she had throughout their joint career, Allen acted as the comedian of the two, creating chaos through her misunderstandings of the world about her, while Burns served as her straight man. He helped establish her elaborate humorous situations, set the timing for their conversations, and lovingly extricated his partner and wife from the fictional consequences of her "zany" personality--all the while maintaining a deadpan stance. The pair were supported by Bea Benaderet playing their neighbor Blanche Morton, by a series of actors portraying Blanche's husband Harry, by their announcer (first Bill Goodwin, later Harry von Zell) playing himself, and eventually by their son Ronnie. The program was playful and sophisticated, relying more on linguistic than on physical humor. Although the character of Gracie was dumb in many ways, she never lost the respect and affection of her fellow cast members, particularly not of her husband. Her mistakes were never unkind, and her dumbness was in its own way brilliant. Perhaps more than any other couple-oriented situation comedy of its day, Burns and Allen presented an egalitarian marriage--in large part because George Burns as straight man was always dependent on his partner's comic abilities. Burns used the new medium of television to expand his straight-man role, however. In Gracie: A Love Story, a 1988 biography of Allen, he jokingly explained his function in planning the show: "My major contribution to the format was to suggest that I be able to step out of the plot and speak directly to the audience, and then be able to go right back into the action. That was an original idea of mine; I know it was because I originally stole it from Thornton Wilder's play Our Town." Burns thus moved from merely setting up his partner's jokes to interpreting them, and indeed the entire action of the program, to the audience. Eventually the program's writers (of whom Burns himself served as the head) gave the character George-as-narrator additional omniscience by placing a magic television set in his den. This device enabled him to monitor and comment on the plot even when he was not directly involved in it. Television gave additional responsibilities to the offscreen George Burns as well as to his onscreen counterpart. Like many video stars of the 1950s, Burns owned the program in which he starred. His production company, McCadden, also produced or co-produced a number of advertisements and two other situation comedies--The Bob Cummings Show (1955-1959) and The People's Choice (1955-1958). The ever-busy Burns also used the Burns and Allen years to become an author. He produced his first volume of memoirs, I Love Her, That's Why!, with co-author/ghost writer Cynthia Hobart Lindsay in 1955. The book enhanced Burns' reputation as a raconteur and staked his claim to authorship of the Burns and Allen team. Unfortunately for Burns, he was soon to discover that he was still not the star of that team. When Allen retired from their act and from show business in 1958, he immediately reassembled his writers and his cast to churn out The George Burns Show, a situation comedy featuring all of Burns and Allen's characters except Allen. The show foundered after one season. Burns persevered, trying nightclub work alone and with other actresses. In the fall of 1964, attempting to recover from Allen's death earlier that year, he returned to television, co-starring in Wendy and Me with Connie Stevens and producing No Time for Sergeants. Neither program lasted beyond the first season. The following year, he was back producing another short-lived program, Mona McCluskey. George Burns continued to move along on the edges of American show business until 1975, when after the death of his close friend Jack Benny he was given Benny's part in the film version of Neil Simon's comedy The Sunshine Boys. His success in this role led to other film work (including portrayal of the almighty in three "Oh, God!" pictures), television specials, and contracts for several more books--mostly memoirs. His final book, 100 Years, 100 Stories, was published in 1996. In many ways, this small and entertaining volume summed up the life and career of George Burns. It consisted of a number of often retold, highly repolished jokes. Its origins, like Burns' own ethnic roots, were obscured but oddly irrelevant-seeming. (Burns himself was in such poor health during the book's production that he clearly played little part in it; nevertheless, the stories were ones he had told for years and years.) Years after her death, it still depended heavily for its meaning on Burns' relationship with Allen, who figured prominently in many of the stories. And coming out as it did in the weeks between its author's 100th birthday in January of 1996 and his death in March, this final volume exhibited the sort of timing for which George Burns was justly renowned.

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