1896–1996, b. New York City as Nathan Birnbaum, and his wife Gracie Allen,
1906–64, b. San Francisco, American comedy team (1923–58). In vaudeville in the 1920s, on radio (1932–50) and television (1950–58) and in films, they played an endlessly patient husband and scatterbrained wife. Although he continued to perform after his wife's retirement, his solo career did not flourish until he won an Academy Award for The Sunshine Boys
(1975). Subsequently, Burns enjoyed great success as a cigar-puffing nightclub entertainer and as a film actor, becoming particularly well-known for his role as God in three motion pictures.
See his Gracie: A Love Story (1988) and All My Best Friends (1989); biography by M. Gottfried (1996).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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