George Burns Takes a Centenary Bow Bow after 100 Years Bow
Tim Cornwell Los Angeles, The Independent (London, England)
"I can't die," George Burns would say. "I'm booked." Older than the Model-T Ford, the comedian played off death and ageing like a stooge.
"I've been around for 1,000 years," he remarked in 1991, when he was only 95. "So I walk out on the stage and everybody stands up saying: 'How do you like that - he walks'!"
The man who entered vaudeville at eight in a boy's singing group called the Peewee Quartet and with his wife, Gracie Allen, moved from stage success to become a US comic institution in the early days of radio and television, is 100 on Saturday. For years Burns, who won an Oscar at the age of 80, has defied old age, and planned a series of centenary events. But after a decline in health after a fall 18 months ago, he will celebrate quietly at home, his manager said. He cancelled a birthday show at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, a five-day run booked out two years ago.
Earlier he had called off a centenary appearance at the London Palladium. "The Brits wouldn't give me a three-year deal," he joked. Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has named 20 January George Burns Day in honour of a "national treasure".
He will probably appear, but not perform, at one birthday party in Beverly Hills to honour his million-dollar donations to the local Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where two streets nearby are named for Burns and Allen. The couple made their radio debut in Britain in 1930, engaged by the BBC to do five short spots as they toured vaudeville stages. But Gracie concluded that the British "took us too seriously", and they never achieved the level of celebrity they enjoyed in the US, where …
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Publication information: Article title: George Burns Takes a Centenary Bow Bow after 100 Years Bow. Contributors: Tim Cornwell Los Angeles - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 15, 1996. Page number: 11. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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