George Burns was born Nathan Birnbaum in 1896 into a large family of Jewish Rumanian immigrants. When his father died young he began working to help support his family and edged his way into Vaudeville.
Gracie Allen was born in California to a family of entertainers and began performing at the age of three with her father and sisters.
They launched their radio career together in 1929. They used a series of running gags to promote their show such as a search for Gracie's missing brother which crossed over into other radio shows and they became a hit. It wasn't until 1941 when they were looking to add new ideas to the show that they wrote their marriage into the script.
In 1950 they moved into television and the Burns and Allen show took off. They adopted two children and their marriage and shows continued successfully until Gracie had a mild heart attack in the 50s. She never regained her health after that and left the show.
George admitted he cheated on Gracie only once during their marriage and felt so guilty he bought her an extravagant silver centrepiece. He never admitted to her the reason for the gift but she found out. Neither mentioned it until years later Gracie joked to a friend,”I wish George would cheat again. I need a new centrepiece.”
In 1964 Gracie died of a heart attack while watching television. George was devastated. In the 24 years he outlived her, he visited her grave in Glendale California regularly, talking to her and asking her advice. He arranged to always have fresh flowers delivered for her.
His career now took a different path. George said “For 40 years my act consisted of one joke, and then she died.” He guested on shows as a comedian and starred in movies such as “Oh God” and “The Sunshine Boys”. He became an entertainment icon., He wrote a memoir “Gracie, A Love Story.”
George died in 1996 at the age of 100. He was buried beside Gracie with a marker that read “Gracie Allen and George Burns, Together Again.”