Friday, August 27, 2010

"The Beverly Hills Uplift Society" starring George Burns and Gracie Allen

Beginning in October 1950*, George Burns and Gracie Allen filled the living rooms of America with laughter (even though George would be the first to admit that most of the laughs were Gracie's alone); in all, Burns and Allen appeared in 291 episodes of this classic program, one of the first hits of the television era. In addition to Burns and Allen themselves, the show features the talents of Fred Clark and Bea Benaderet, as well as announcer Harry von Zell.

*Having begun on radio in February 1932.

Sponsored by Carnation Evaporated Milk, this episode was the second of the show's second season, first telecast in October 1951; I love the way the commercial is integrated right into the show, in much the same way product placement has now turned most movies into 90 minute advertisements. The relationship between commerce and entertainment, it seems, has come full circle. Less amusing is the lie that somehow evaporated milk is best for babies; then again, that was the Fifties for you. In those days, breasts were for entertaining men and not nourishing children...

For the life of me, I can't tell what the purpose of the Beverly Hills Uplift Society is, except to keep a lot of society matrons from turning to drink in despair over their own extreme comfort. Still, this episode is a pretty good indicator of the style of humour prevalent in those days, and shows birthday gal Gracie Allen - who died on this day in 1964 - at her dizzy, ditzy best.
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