Friday, August 27, 2010

Remembering... Gracie Allen

It's often been said that the only proof necessary of the comic genius of George Burns was in his choice of wife and partner, Gracie Allen; Gracie's genius, of course, was much less subtle, evident in every word she spoke, every face she pulled, and indeed every life she touched.

PhotobucketShe was also fortunate enough to be born in San Francisco, prior to that city's Great Earthquake in April 1906; although forced to live through the ensuing devastation as a child, in the fire that followed the quake her birth certificate was destroyed, a fate every actress in Hollywood undoubtedly would relish, even if it did mean having to live in a tent for a couple of years as a kid. Census information, however, indicates she was likely born in 1895.

Burns and Allen met in 1922, when both were performing in vaudeville. Initially Burns gave her the straight lines, setting him up for the jokes; when she ended up getting more laughs out of the setups than he did from the gags, he cannily switched their roles, and history was made. They married in 1926, and by February 1932 had their own radio show. The same year they began appearing together in movies, and for the next 30 years they were among the most popular and durable acts in show business, seamlessly making the transition to television in 1950.

Gracie even ran for President in 1940, conducting a whistlestop tour of the United States on board a train on behalf of the Surprise Party; typically her speeches consisted of such quips as "Everybody knows a woman is better than a man when it comes to introducing bills into the house," lines that lose all their charm when stripped of Allen's priceless style of delivery.

Gracie Allen died of a heart attack on this day in 1964, following a lengthy history of heart problems; those in the know agree that what really happened is through the years Gracie gave all her heart away, and at the end didn't have enough left over for herself...
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