Posts Tagged ‘Gracie: A Love Story’

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From People Magazine

May 22, 2009

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“For 40 years my act consisted of one joke,” George Burns was fond of saying. “Then she died.” The woman in question, as anyone within earshot of a radio or television in the 1950s would know, was his wife, Gracie Allen–and the female side of a showbiz team whose ditzy banter in an era of idealized domesticity made it one of the most beloved and successful comedy acts in history.

Both onstage and off, as Burns himself was always the first to acknowledge, Gracie, the perfectly honed not-so-Dumb Dora to his long-suffering straight man, was more than half an act. “Next to Gracie, I was wonderful,” he wrote in an affectionate biography, 1988’s Gracie: A Love Story. “All I had to do was stand next to her and imagine some of the applause was for me.”

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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!

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Amazing Gracie

April 24, 2009

She was a matchless comic artist who was smart
enough to become the dumbest woman in show-business history.

by Maynard Good Stoddard

“I lie a lot,” confesses the author of five bestsellers previous to Gracie: A Love Story. “But when I write about Gracie, I don’t have to lie,” he says. “The truth is unbelievable enough.”

George Burns is of course referring to Graice Allen, his wife and partner, a matchless comic artist smart enough to become the dumbest woman in show-business history.

sedugracieOnly Gracie would make ice cubes with hot water so they would be ready if the water heater broke. Who else would cut her vacuum cord in half to save electricity? Or suggest, “Horses must be deaf because you see so few of them at concerts”? Or plead with her audience, “If I say the right thing, please excuse me”?

To the millions of Burns and Allen vaudeville, radio, TV, and movie fans, saying the wrong thing was the right thing. And at saying the wrong thing, Gracie was an expert.

Burns records how Gracie, getting her permit to drive a car, went up against bureaucracy in the person of Mr. Harkness of the motor vehicle bureau.

“Mrs. Burns,” he said, “I’ve been going over your test. Never in the 16 years I’ve been here have I seen anything like it.”

“Thank you,” Gracie responded proudly.

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Burns’ Home in Beverly Hills

April 18, 2009

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George and Gracie lived for many years in this Beverly Hills home.  In his book Gracie: A Love Story, George writes about how people thought that they really were the characters that they played on television.  So sometimes tourists would visit with the couple by simply appearing in their backyard.  George said that Gracie was very gracious to them and played the part. 

Above is a scan of an actual postcard that was available for sale along with others with pictures of other stars’ homes.  The face reads “Residence of Mr. and Mrs. George Burns (Gracie Allen), Beverly Hills, California.”  The reverse side says that the card was published by Western Publishing & Novelty Co., Los Angeles Calif. and indicates that the printing method is “C.T.Art-Colortone.”

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Say “Happy New Year,” Gracie

April 14, 2009

Check out this post from another blog about Burns and Allen:

When I was starting out in show business the thing I want most for New Year’s Eve was a booking. If you were booked on New Year’s Eve, it meant you were doing O.K.

…The parties I remember most took place at Jack and Mary Benny’s home in Palm Springs. Many of the greatest performers in show business would be there and, during the night, almost all of them would get up and perform for the rest of our crowd. They had to – it was New Year’s Eve and they wanted to be booked.

Eventually a voice was heard above all the rest suggesting, “Let George Burns sing a few songs.”

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Gracie for President 1940

April 2, 2009

4presGracie Allen, the female half of the runaway comedy team of Burns and Allen, announced one March evening over the radio her intention to compete for the presidency at the head of a new third party, the “Surprise Party.” Why the Surprise Party? As Gracie later explained, her mother was a Democrat, her father a Republican, and Gracie had been born a Surprise.

Gracie’s presidential bid had originally been conceived as a simple radio gimmick with the expectation of a short half-life. George Burns later recalled its moment of birth: “Gracie and I were at home in Beverly Hills with our children [when she] suddenly remarked, ‘I’m tired of knitting this sweater. I think I’ll run for president this year.'”

The idea wasn’t particularly new. Other radio personalities, notably Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers, had made slapstick runs in the direction of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Gracie’s unique campaign, however, acquired a unique momentum.

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Missing Brother

March 31, 2009

Gracie’s Missing Brother Gag

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The following is an excerpt from “Gracie: A Love Story” by George Burns…

The gimmick that really made us major radio stars was the search for Gracie’s mythical brother in 1933. We’d been using Gracie’s mythical brother as a character in our act for years. It was Gracie’s brother who invented a way to manufacture pennies for only three cents. It was Gracie’s brother who marketed an umbrella with holes in it so you’d be able to see when the rain stopped. It was Gracie’s brother who first printed a newspaper on cellophane so that he could read it in a restaurant and still keep an eye on his hat and coat. And it was Gracie’s brother who broke his leg falling off an ironing board while pressing his pants. Actually, as we discovered, Gracie’s brother had been missing for years, but no one had noticed it because he’d left a dummy in his place.

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