The Act That Made Them a Team

April 29, 2009

This is said to be one of the first acts that George and Gracie performed. At the time, they were only an acting team. George says in his book, Gracie: A Love Story, that he asked her several times to marry him, allegedly to “share expenses.”

Though they married early in their career they did not play a married couple. It was not until much later, during their run in radio, that their marriage was announced. The show went on the same, no staged marriage ceremony, but simply an announcement was made and the scripts were changed to read that George and Gracie were a married couple.

In this act we read one of many famous “brother Willy” sketches. Gracie often talked about her brother and his antics, which are amplified by her own unique point of view. Gracie’s fictional family was much like her fictional self, which adds to the hillarity of her innocence. Gracie played her character so well that people would often think that Gracie was the same way in real life!


[Play-on music:]

[George and Gracie enter holding hands. Gracie stops, turns, looks toward the wings, and waves. She lets go of George’s hand and walks toward the wing, still waving. Then she stops and beckons to whomever she is waving to come out. A man comes out, puts his arms around Gracie, and kisses her, and she kisses him. They wave to each other as he backs offstage. Gracie returns to George center stage.]

Gracie: Who was that?

George: You don’t know?

Gracie: No, my mother told me never to talk to strangers.

George: That makes sense.

Gracie: This always happens to me. On my way in, a man stopped me at the stage door and said, “Hiya, cutie, how about a bite tonight after the show?”

George: And you said?

Gracie: I said, “I’ll be busy after the show but I’m not doing anything now,” so I bit him.

George: Gracie, let me ask you something. Did the nurse ever happen to drop you on your head when you were a baby?

Gracie: Oh, no, we couldn’t afford a nurse, my mother had to do it.

George: You had a smart mother.

Gracie: Smartness runs in my family. When I went to school I was so smart my teacher was in my class for five years.

George: Gracie, what school did you go to?

Gracie: I’m not allowed to tell.

George: Why not?

Gracie: The school pays me $25 a month not to tell.

George: Is there anybody in the family as smart as you?

Gracie: My sister Hazel is even smarter. If it wasn’t for her, our canary would never have hatched that ostrich egg.

George: A canary hatched an ostrich egg?

Gracie: Yeah…but the canary was too small to cover that big egg.

George: So?

Gracie: So…Hazel sat on the egg and held the canary in her lap.

George: Hazel must be the smartest in your family.

Gracie: Oh, no. My brother Willy was no dummy either.

George: Willy?

Gracie: Yeah, the one who slept on the floor.

George: Why would he sleep on the floor?

Gracie: He had high blood pressure–

George: And he was trying to keep it down?

Gracie: Yeah.

George: I’d like to meet Willy.

Gracie: You can’t miss him. He always wears a high collar to cover the appendicitis scar on his neck.

George: Gracie, your appendix is down around your waist.

Gracie: I know, but Willy was so ticklish they had to operate up there.

George: What’s Willy doing now?

Gracie: He just lost his job.

George: Lost his job?

Gracie: Yeah, he’s a window washer.

George: And?

Gracie: And…he was outside on the twentieth story washing a window and when he got through he stepped back to admire his work.

George: And he lost his job.

Gracie: Yeah…And when he hit the pavement he was terribly embarrassed.

George: Embarrassed?

Gracie: Yeah…his collar blew off and his appendicitis scar showed.

George: Gracie, this family of yours–

Gracie: When Willy was a little baby my father took him riding in his carriage, and two hours later my father came back with a different baby and a different carriage.

George: Well, what did your mother say?

Gracie: My mother didn’t say anything because it was a better carriage.

George: A better carriage?

Gracie: Yeah…And the little baby my father brought home was a little French baby so my mother took up French.

George: Why?

Gracie: So she could understand the baby–

George: When the baby started to talk?

Gracie: Yeah.

George: Gracie, this family of yours, do you all live together?

Gracie: Oh, sure. My father, my brother, my uncle, my cousin, and my nephew all sleep in one bed and–

George: In one bed? I’m surprised your grandfather doesn’t sleep with them.

Gracie: Oh, he did, but he died, so they made him get up.

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One comment

  1. Can anyone tell me the episode title of the Burns and Allen show in which Jack Benny played Gracie? Any help how to find that appreciated. Thanks

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