SAY GOOD NIGHT, GRACIE! The Burns and Allen Story by Susan and Cheryl Blythe Sackett

SAY GOOD NIGHT, GRACIE! The Burns and Allen Story

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Delightful recap and bio of the zany but beloved Bums & Allen team, who became a top act in vaudeville, the top comedians of earliest radio, then made the successful shift to a live TV show that lasted through eight years of the ""golden age. ""Nathan Birnbaum, born in 1896 and still going strong 90 years later, became George Burns even before he got into vaudeville. He would do anything to work on stage, a team, a dog act, monologues--anything--although, Bums says, ""I was lousy. . .but I was lucky to have vaudeville."" It wasn't until he was 29 and splitting up with his latest partner, Lorraine, that he met little Irish Gracie Allen, then 19, who came backstage to ask Lorraine if she could join her now, that she was leaving George--and stayed to work with George. At first, George wrote their act with himself as the top banana and Gracie the straight man. But audiences laughed at her and not him, so George switched to straight man happily, drawing much of his material from Gracie's everyday talk. He also found that the audience wanted him to love and respect and never insult Gracie. Gracie on the national debt: ""It's something to be proud of; it's the biggest in the world, isn't it?"" As Burns sees it, Gracie's logic was faultless, though usually mistaken. ""Gracie gets her laughs--we hope--because we often think the way Gracie talks, but we pride ourselves that we never talk the way Gracie thinks."" Burns and Allen always played ""themselves."" She'd say things like, ""George tells me I have been on the radio for nearly six years now, but whenever I turn on the radio in our house I never get me."" A host of actors, announcers and writers supported the television show and all are given their due here, with delicious examples of their jokes, which often rib George or his mania for singing extremely obscure songs (that really existed). There are 291 Burns and Allen episodes which still play around the world. Synopses for all are reprinted herein. Gracie's death from a heart attack at 59 brought forth glowing tributes to ""the smartest dumbbell in the history of show business."" Gracie used to say, ""Remember when we met in vaudeville? I was just Gracie Allen then. Little did I think that you'd marry me and change my name to 'Burns and Alien.'"" George says, ""Burns and Allen was Gracie."" Very affectionate stuff.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1986
Publisher: Dutton