George Burns

Birthday: Jan 20, 1896
Birthplace: New York City, New York
American comedian George Burns had a taste for show business from his youth on New York's Lower East Side, and by the time he was seven he and his buddies had formed a singing group called the Pee Wee Quartet. Amateur shows led to small-time vaudeville, where Burns faced rejection time and again, often gaining jobs from people who had fired him earlier through the simple expedient of constantly changing his professional name. Usually working as part of a song-and-snappy-patter team, he was in the process of breaking up with his latest partner Billy Lorraine in 1922 when he met a pretty young singer/dancer named Gracie Allen. The game plan for this new team was to have Gracie play the "straight man" and George the comic, but so ingenuous and lightheaded was Gracie's delivery that the audience laughed at her questions and not at George's answers. Burns realized he'd have to reverse the roles and become the straight man for the act to succeed, and within a few years Burns and Allen was one of the hottest acts in vaudeville, with George writing the material and Gracie garnering the laughs. George and Gracie married in 1926; thereafter the team worked on stage, in radio, in movies (first in a series of one-reel comedies, then making their feature debut in 1932's The Big Broadcast) and ultimately in television, seldom failing to bring down the house with their basic "dizzy lady, long-suffering man" routine. Though the public at large believed that Gracie had all the talent, show business insiders knew that the act would have been nothing without George's brilliant comic input; indeed, George was often referred to by his peers as "The Comedian's Comedian". Gracie decided to retire in 1958, after which George went out on his own in television and in nightclubs, to less than spectacular success. After Gracie's death in 1964, George concentrated on television production (he had vested interests in several series, among them Mr. Ed) and for a nervous few years tried using other comic actresses in the "Gracie" role for his club appearances. But it wasn't the same; George Burns would be first to admit there was only one Gracie Allen. Though he never retired, Burns was more or less out of the consciousness of moviegoers until he was hired at the last minute to replace his late friend Jack Benny in the film version of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1975). His performance as a cantankerous old vaudeville comic won him an Oscar, and launched a whole new career for the octogenarian entertainer as a solo movie star. Perhaps his most conspicuous achievement in the late 1970s was his portrayal of the Almighty Spirit - with distinct Palace Theatre undertones - in Oh, God! (1977). Even after reaching his centennial year, Burns remained as sharp-witted as ever. Less than three months after his 100th birthday Burns passed away. But fans can take comfort because Burns has gone beyond the realm of Show Business Legend; he is practically an immortal.

Photos

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

CREDIT
No Score Yet The Big Broadcast of 1937 Mr. Platt 2001
No Score Yet Let Me In - I Hear Laughter: A Tribute to the Friars Club Actor 2000
No Score Yet George Burns: 100 Years of Comedy Actor 1995
24% Radioland Murders Milt 1994
No Score Yet Wisecracks Actor 1993
29% 18 Again! Jack Watson/David Watson 1988
No Score Yet George Burns: His Wit and Wisdom Actor 1988
36% Oh, God! You Devil God / Harry O. Tophet 1984
No Score Yet Two of a Kind Ross 'Boppy' Minor 1982
No Score Yet George Burns in Concert Actor 1982
50% Oh, God! Book II God 1980
No Score Yet Just You and Me, Kid Bill 1979
82% Going in Style Joe 1979
No Score Yet Movie Movie Actor 1978
15% Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Mr. Kite 1978
72% Oh, God! God 1977
77% The Sunshine Boys Al Lewis 1975
No Score Yet The All-Star Christmas Show (Bing Crosby - Bing Crosby's White Christmas USO All Star Show) Actor 1958
100% The Solid Gold Cadillac Narrator 1956
No Score Yet Honolulu Joe Duffy 1939
No Score Yet College Swing George Jonas 1938
67% A Damsel in Distress George 1937
No Score Yet College Holiday George Hymen 1936
No Score Yet The Big Broadcast of 1937 Actor 1936
No Score Yet The Big Broadcast of 1936 George 1935
No Score Yet Love in Bloom George 1935
No Score Yet Here Comes Cookie Himself 1935
No Score Yet Six of a Kind George Edwards 1934
No Score Yet We're Not Dressing George 1934
No Score Yet College Humor George 1933
No Score Yet Elmer, the Great Ballplayer 1933
No Score Yet International House Doctor Burns 1933
No Score Yet The Big Broadcast George 1932

TV

CREDIT
100% The Muppet Show
1976-1981
Guest
  • 1977

QUOTES FROM George Burns CHARACTERS