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Burns & Allen Show
by Billy Ingram

I've mentioned before how much I love George Burns - and, by extension, Burns & Gracie Allen. They were one of the few radio personalities to successfully transition to TV. And why was that?

I'm convinced, and George Burns often said it was true, that Gracie Allen was so irresistibly adorable that the straight man in the act - Burns - got a free ride. Gracie retired in 1958, leading to the cancellation of their popular (but rarely in the top 20) TV program. Her reasoning was solid - she was rich and had worked so hard for so long that she deserved to take it easy. A long run in vaudeville, a series of motion pictures (ever see The Gracie Allen Murder Case?), decades on radio, one of TV's first sitcoms running for 8 years - the woman was tired, people! (She also had serious health problems.) Gracie Allen even ran for president in 1940 ala Pat Paulsen ("Everybody knows a woman is better than a man when it comes to introducing bills into the house.")

George Burns tried to keep the TV sitcom going but, like Sonny Bono in the 1970s, he found the magic was gone. Gracie Allen died in 1964 and Burns eventually found his own way as a solo performer after trying out a number of female partners to replace the irreplaceable Gracie.

Here's part of a George Burns & Gracie Allen Show with that well-worn plotline about the couple not really being married because of some technicality; in it, George contemplates life without Gracie.

Back in the day TV stars were expected to perform the commercials. Here's the first commercial from the first episode of The Burns & Allen Show.

Here's the first portion of a 1951 episode:

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Burns & Allen Show


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