The legendary comedian George Burns passed away at his Beverly Hills home on Saturday morning. His longevity was the final, most charming gag in a lifetime filled with grace and laughter. He had reached the age of 100 and 49 days.
His nurse saw him trembling and barely breathing in bed, and it doesn’t appear that he survived much longer after that. His son, Ronnie, was with him at the end. According to Irving Fein, Burns’ longtime manager, and friend, there were no closing one-liners or profound farewells. But Burns had persisted for years in the same gravelly tone, “I don’t believe in dying…. It’s been done.”
The Burns family received condolences from all around the United States, with many paying tribute to the comedian’s varied roles in American culture, from vaudevillian to radio and television star to irascible elder gentleman of comedy.
When asked about him, his close buddy of over eight decades, comedian Milton Berle, responded, “He’s up there with Gracie, performing their show. And knowing George, I’m sure he’ll be cracking jokes at the expense of the Almighty.
George Burns Cause Of Death
Burns had been in terrible health since July 1994, when he slipped and fell in the bathtub at his residence in Las Vegas. Due to his weakness, he had to pull out of the centennial shows planned for the London Palladium and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He missed his 100th birthday celebration in January because he was too sick with the illness to travel.
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George Burns Funeral Service
At a private service on Tuesday at Los Angeles’s Forest Lawn cemetery, Fein said Burns would be laid to rest next to Allen. An eventual public memorial service is being considered. Burns was a soothing and lighthearted throwback to an era when entertainers weren’t as hardened as they are now, despite the fact that many of his jokes and songs poked fun at his infamous weaknesses (such as his penchant for gorgeous women, strong liquor, and cigars).
Burns continued playing in his weekly bridge session at the Hillcrest Country Club near Beverly Hills until his final days. He even discussed a possible comeback with Fein. That his most recent book, 100 Years, 100 Stories, was at the top of the bestseller list made him very happy.
Few remember that before Burns became a legendary figure in the late 20th and early 30th centuries, he was a struggling performer on the vaudeville circuit. He started the century off busking for spare change in New York City. Almost till the end of the century, he entertained people all over the world with his wit and humor via compact discs and satellite performances.
Comedy’s new grand old man, Bob Hope, is 92 today. “It’s been hard to imagine show business before George Burns,” he observed. It’s hard to picture a time when he wasn’t a part of the entertainment industry. At this moment, a century seems like a blink of an eye.
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George Burns Death
Even though his career expanded even more after Gracie died in 1964, Burns frequently remarked that none of his achievements would have been possible without her. President Reagan and Frank Sinatra both attended his 90th birthday party in January 1986. When asked about his plans, Burns declared on national television, “I’m gonna stay in show business until I’m the only one left.”
He was a busy man, and it was remarked that his activity level only increased with age. “The main thing,” he urged, “is to have a career and love what you do. That’s how you stay looking and feeling young. At 27, I felt old since I was unemployed. I feel like a kid again.
On January 20, 1896, Nathan Birnbaum joined a family of seven girls and five boys on the Lower East Side of New York City.
After his father died when he was just seven years old, he started selling newspapers and cleaning shoes to make ends meet. He also admitted in an interview that he stole empty seltzer bottles and melted the lead caps to sell them. As a member of the Peewee Quartet, he and three other boys from the neighborhood performed on street corners and the Staten Island Ferry for tips. We were making thirty to thirty-five cents a day, he said. “Big money, but no broads.”
George Burns Career
He started smoking cigars at the age of 16 in an attempt to pass for an actor, and he never stopped; he used to go through 20 El Productos a day but has now reduced back to five. When a booking agent asked where he could find George Burns, the comedian leaped to his feet and proclaimed, “I’m George Burns.” That got him $15 for three days of work at a theater in Brooklyn.
But after the first joke, he was yanked offstage and dismissed. At the age of 17, Burns was still practicing but rarely working; he taught ballroom dancing to immigrants, won money in dance competitions, and performed under a variety of stage names, including “Jimmy Delight,” “Billy Pierce,” and “Burns and Links.” The link was his name.
Hannah Siegal was one of his vaudeville partners, and he eventually married her because her family wouldn’t let them tour with her otherwise. After performing for 36 weeks on the road, they returned to New York and called it quits on the show and the marriage.
Then, a jobless, 17-year-old Irish-American dramatic actor who had been contemplating becoming a secretary walked backstage to see him. Gracie Allen was her name. So that he could deliver the jokes, Burns had her give him the lines. However, when they performed for an audience of only 40 people, not a single one of Burns’ jokes was received with laughter. Instead, the relationship ended due to Gracie’s probing.
Burns said it hurt him to play straight man, but “not being a fool, and wanting to continue smoking cigars, I got all the dumb jokes out of College Humor and Whiz Bang, switched character, and gave them to Gracie.” He added that her ability to sound genuine was the key to her popularity with listeners. She found complete coherence in what she said:
To the end of his act, he would often hop into a wheelchair, exiting the auditorium with a cloud of gray-brown cigar smoke trailing in his wake; he was still performing up to 30 live shows a year well into his 90s.