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The Magic of Burns and Allen

September 14, 2009

We defy you to find a married-couple-as-comedy-duo more endearing and entertaining than Burns and Allen. A love affair steeped in spotlight, George Burns and Gracie Allen began working together in 1922 and married just four years later in 1926. Gracie, though engaged to another man when she and George began their comedy act, was immediately drawn to George's wry wit and comic timing. George, upon seeing the first crowd reaction to Gracie's flighty comic delivery, decided to make himself the straight man to her scatterbrain. The rest is stage, radio and screen history. But what distinguishes Burns and Allen from other real-life married couples in entertainment (even Lucy and Desi who, arguably, rank respectably second)? We suspect it's because their marriage was organic and intrinsically woven into their act. They maintained that, thoughout their union, they never had a fight, and audiences found that entirely believable, as there was never even a twinge of underlying tension in their interaction. They remained together both privately and professionally until Gracie's untimely passing in 1964. Burns never remarried or re-teamed. What a far cry Burns and Allen were from most of today's "Hollywood Couples," so few of whom could even co-star in one film without tabloid talk of tension, competition, and impending divorce, let alone build a whole career contingent on deferring to the other's talent and nurturing the other's unique abilities.

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