George Burns (Nathan Birnbaum)

George Burns

George Burns

Was an American comedian, award-winning actor and best-selling writer.

George Burns was one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned vaudeville, film, radio, and television. His arched eyebrow and cigar-smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three-quarters of a century.

When Burns was 79, his career was resurrected as an amiable, beloved and unusually active old comedian in the 1975 film The Sunshine Boys, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He continued to work until shortly before his death, in 1996, at the age of 100.

When Burns turned 90 in 1986, the city of Los Angeles renamed the northern end of Hamel Road “George Burns Road.” City regulations prohibited naming a city street after a living person, but an exception was made for Burns. In celebration of Burns’ 99th birthday in January 1995, Los Angeles renamed the eastern end of Alden Drive “Gracie Allen Drive.” Burns was present at the unveiling ceremony (one of his last public appearances) where he quipped, “It’s good to be here at the corner of Burns & Allen. At my age, it’s good to be anywhere!” George Burns Road and Gracie Allen Drive cross just a few blocks west of the Beverly Center mall in the heart of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Burns suffered a head injury after falling in his bathtub in July 1994 and underwent surgery to remove fluid in his skull. Burns never fully recovered and all performances celebrating his 100th birthday were canceled. In December 1995, when he was 99, Burns was well enough to attend a Christmas party hosted by Frank Sinatra, where he reportedly caught the flu, which weakened him further. On January 20, 1996, he celebrated his 100th birthday, but was too weak to perform or even attend a birthday party taking place that night and instead spent the evening at home. He released a statement joking how he would love for his 100th birthday to be “a night with Sharon Stone“.

On March 9, 1996, 49 days after his centenary, Burns died in his Beverly Hills home of cardiac arrest. His funeral was held three days later at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather church in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale. As much as he looked forward to reaching the age of 100, Burns also stated, about a year before he died, that he also looked forward to death, saying that on the day he would die, he would be with Gracie again in heaven. Upon being interred with Gracie, the crypt’s marker was changed to, “Gracie Allen & George Burns—Together Again.” George had said that he wanted Gracie to have top billing.

Born

  • January, 20, 1896
  • New York, New York

Died

  • March, 09, 1996
  • Beverly Hills, California

Cause of Death

  • Died in his Beverly Hills home of cardiac arrest

Cemetery

  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park
  • Glendale, California

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