Let’s call this a selective biographical memoir; but the title is certainly every bit as accurate: this is a love story.
George Burns died more than 16 years ago, and a younger generation doesn’t remember him, but most people aged 35 and over can at least call a portrait of the man into their mind’s eye: an arched eyebrow and an ever-present cigar.
Most people aged 65 and over will remember another figure alongside him: very petite, a brunette-haired woman with a high-pitched voice and a distinctive “illogical logic” that made her the absolute reigning queen of comediennes for almost 2 generations, spanning vaudeville, radio, film and television.
That woman was Gracie Allen.
She was iconic.
George Burns was the lucky man who stumbled upon her, loved her, wooed her, married her, wrote for her, managed her career, and ultimately lost her to heart disease more than half a century ago.
This book is her story, told in his voice. If you’ve seen George Burns’ work, you can easily imagine him narrating this volume.
If you ever saw or heard Burns and Allen, you’re in for a deliciously refreshing treat: the excerpts from their comedy acts play just as hilariously today as they did when they were fresh and new.
There is, for example, Gracie’s patient explanation of her cousin’s death from diving into an empty swimming pool: “Well, you see, George, he knew how to dive, but he didn’t know how to swim…”
To make the book further enchanting than it already is, Burns includes all manner of anecdotes that include such stars of this bygone era as Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Cary Grant, Fred Allen, Goodman Ace, Harpo Marx, Myrna Loy, Marilyn Monroe and more.
Easy to read and hard to put down, this is both a history of several entertainment media and the American culture that shaped each other.
And it is a love story without parallel.
Absolutely recommended! (Five out of five stars)