- Allen, Gracie
- (1895-1964)Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen was born in San Francisco, California. She first appeared on stage at the age of three as a dancer and with her three sisters appeared as an Irish singer and dancer in local vaudeville theaters before touring on the east coast. Failing to get work on her own, Allen enrolled in secretarial school in New York, but in 1923 she met George Burns, and they established a comedy routine together in which Allen assumed the comic role to Burns’s straight man. Allen established a persona of “Dizzy Dora,” who despite her lunacy, somehow made sense. The partnership quickly became successful, and she and Burns married in 1926. In 1930, they appeared in vaudeville on Broadway for a run of 17 weeks and shortly thereafter made their debut on American radio. In 1933, they began their own show on CBS, originally called “The Adventures of Gracie” and later named “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.” It was a favorite of U.S. listeners through 1950. Allen and Burns made a number of movie shorts for Paramount between 1929 and 1931, followed by several feature films, including Six of a Kind (1934) with W. C. Fields. Allen did not enjoy making movies, and her last was Two Girls and a Sailor (1944). In 1950, Burns and Allen successfully moved to television. Their show ran until June 1958, when Allen insisted on retiring to spend more time with her adopted children and grandchildren. She suffered a serious heart attack in 1961 and died in Hollywood three years later. Although he provided most of their material, Burns always insisted that Allen “was the whole show” and that it was her comic timing and delivery that made them a success.See also Cinema.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.