Grace Allen

 

Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie “Gracie” Allen was born on July 26, 1895. She was best known as the ditzy partner of husband, George Burns.

She began performing at the young age of three and became a talented dancer. When Gracie was only 14, she became a vaudeville peformer with her three sisters and began an Irish Folk Dance group called, The Four Colleens.They toured for several seasons, however, she became frustrated with her career and began going to secretarial school.

When she was attending school, she had heard that the comedic team of George Burns and William Lorraine were going to break up and that William Lorraine would need a new partner. She thought that George Burns was William Lorraine and didn’t let her know who he was for three days. She agreed to work with him and Burns and Allen soon had an act at the Hill Street Theater in New Jersey.

When Gracie was getting more laughs than him, he rewrote the act and gave himself the supporting role and let Gracie shine. She combined naivety, stupidity and wackiness and endeared herself to audiences. They became married, three years later, on January 7, 1926. It wasn’t long before they were headlining in most of the best vaudeville houses. As with many major vaudeville acts in the 1930’s, they soon moved their act to the new medium of radio.

 

As they played more radio shows, they decided to change their act by simply playing themselves and the domestic situation comedy was born. The Burns and Allen Comedy Show became one of the most popular shows with about 45 million listeners each week. Gracie Allen was so popular with the public because she made her character so believable, when in fact, she was a highly intelligent woman.

Allen and Burns were not able to conceive and instead adopted two children, Sandra Jean and Ronald Jon.

In 1950, the Burns and Allen Show moved to television and continued to see success. Their most famous line was, “Say good night, Gracie,” to which Gracie would reply with, “Good night.” Unfortunately, Gracie struggled with heart disease for many years and stayed with the act for George’s sake. In 1958, she retired, because of health problems. In 1948, Gracie Allen died of a heart attack. In 1996, George Burns joined his wife and was placed by her side. The engraving on their marker reads, “Gracie Allen and George Burns – Together Again.”

 

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