GRACIE: A LOVE STORY by George Burns
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Very moving memoir by cigar-puffing nonagenarian George Burns about his late wife, comedienne Gracie Allen, to whom he was married for 40 years and whom he partnered for 34 before her retirement. Burns writes marvelously throughout, without one slip in tone or dumb line, and with verbal cigar puffs to tell us when a joke has landed. He was ten years Gracie's senior and a lame vaudevillian when he met Gracie and asked her to partner him as ""George Bums and Gracie Allen."" She was to be straight woman and George top banana, but George quickly saw that her straight lines got all the laughs while he raised not a titter. He became straight man, Gracie top banana. George, in fact, said less and less, Grace more and more. Many years later, logging in their eight years of TV shows (298 episodes), poor Gracie would be memorizing 26 pages of dialogue weekly out of each 40-page script, a heavy burden that put her under much tension. Her special humor, as the dumbest woman in the world, demanded absolute adherence to lines as written if her illogical logic was to make sense. Gracie had scarred an arm with scalding water as a youngster and always dressed to the hilt (""like Cary Grant"") with longsleeved gloves to make her logical confusions ever funnier and more ""sensible."" She was a tine dancer as well and stood up to several intricate sequences with Fred Astaire in the movie Damsel in Distress, by far the best Burns and Allen picture. The memoir is aglow with long sequences featuring Gracie and George and Jack Benny, who has many rousing pages; with the story about Gracie's ""missing brother,"" which was a publicity bombshell that had the whole nation chewing over where her missing brother was; and with George's vast warmth in recalling his long-lost wife, whom he still visits monthly at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Burns' greatest monologue, shimmering with life.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1988
Publisher: Putnam