George Burns was an Academy Award-winning actor, comedian, dancer, singer and best-selling author. He began his career around the turn of the century performing in a barbershop quartet (when it was all the rage), and then moved on to vaudeville. One-reel shorts, then feature films followed. He graduated to a top-rated radio show for 17 years, a top-rated television show for another eight years, and, finally, over the last 30 years of his life he played Las Vegas. Meanwhile he released record albums, appeared in top-grossing movies (winning an Oscar for “The Sunshine Boys”), television specials and still enjoyed a good cigar, a habit he picked up in 1910 when he was a teenager.

He was born on January 20, 1896; a time when sound recording was a new medium and records consisted of wax cylinders played on wound up gramophones. When Burns was about three months old, Thomas Edison publicly unveiled his first projected film program in a Manhattan theater, launching a great industry that would grow to shape the history of the 20th century. Most people did not have telephones and Henry Ford’s horseless carriage called the "Quadricycle" was still a novelty item. Rocket ships and space shuttles were nothing more than a glimmer in the imagination of Jules Verne, and the frontier days of the American west were still fresh in people’s minds.

In 1922, George had been working in an act with Billy Lorraine as "Burns and Lorraine," when after about a year, Billy decided to move on, leaving George without a partner. Enter Gracie Allen. This time, the pairing was to last—not just onstage, but off as well—for the next 42 years. They worked their way up as George continued to perfect his writing skills behind the scenes, and onstage played the straight man to Gracie’s dizzy character with her "illogical logic." It may seem surprising, but in the beginning of their partnership, George and Gracie’s roles were actually reversed, with Gracie playing the straight character and George having the funny lines.

By the mid-1930s, the energetic young couple was ready to start a family, so they adopted a baby girl, Sandy and a baby boy, Ronnie. About this time, the family moved into a permanent home in Beverly Hills, where the children grew up and where George resided until his death.

"The Burns and Allen Show" remained one of the top radio shows during its nearly 20-year run with 45 million listeners tuning in each week. By 1950 George felt they were ready for the new medium of television. The show transferred well, and for the next eight years on CBS, Burns and Allen entertained audiences with plotlines revolving around home life, neighbors, and even vaudeville routines.

At the age of 68, the second half of his show business career had only just begun.

To take away some of the pain of losing his beloved Gracie, George threw himself into his work. George decided to move into production and among other projects, developed the enormously popular "Mr. Ed" television series as well as "No Time For Sergeants." George continued to play the nightclub circuit, made guest appearances on TV and spoke at college campuses. Then, in 1975 at age 79 and less than a year after having triple bypass surgery, George rekindled another career.

Thirty-six years after his last appearance in a feature film, George took over a co-starring role in the film version of Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys.” George was perfect for the part and deservedly won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year. It was certainly true, as George quipped at the podium during his acceptance speech, "If you stay in the business long enough and get to be old enough, you get to be new again!"

Over the course of the next two decades, George appeared in eight more films, including perhaps his most popular role as the title character in the top-grossing “Oh, God” (1977). George’s busy schedule continued until at the age of 98, until he had a serious fall in his bathtub. However, as George kept telling everyone, he planned to stay in show business "until I’m the only one left!"
In January 1996 he celebrated his 100th birthday, and then quietly passed into entertainment history on March 9, 1996.