[[caption-width-right:338:George Burns with wife and comedy partner, Gracie Allen]]

->''"I honestly believe that it's better to be a total failure doing something you love than be a huge success doing something you hate."''
-->-- '''George Burns'''

An honored comedian who became even more famous as the original Hollywood CoolOldGuy.

George Burns (born Nathan Birnbaum, January 20, 1896 March 9, 1996) played in {{Vaudeville}} and eventually started a double act with a young woman, Gracie Allen. However, Burns soon found that while she was his [[StraightMan comic foil]], she was getting more laughs with her comments than his best jokes. Being humble enough to bow to reality, Burns flipped the act and became the StraightMan and Grace Allen carried the heavy comedic lifting as the team, Burns and Allen, went on to great success on stage, [[Radio/TheBurnsAndAllenShow radio and television]].

The basic act was Gracie seemingly playing TheDitz while Burns regularly broke the FourthWall with side glances and comments to the audience. However, Allen's character was somewhat different in that she wasn't so much stupid, [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} she just saw the world in such an idiosyncratic way that no one but George could function effectively around her.]] When TV shifted to color, Allen retired; her eyes had different colored irises, and she felt that it was too distracting/embarrassing to work in color. (She also had a mild heart attack at the time, which may have been the real reason.) The classic "Say good night, Gracie" "Good night, Gracie" [[BeamMeUpScotty was never actually a part of the act]], but Burns did say he wished he'd come up with it.

After Allen died in 1964, Burns worked on a lower level until 1975, when he got a ''de facto'' starring role in ''Film/TheSunshineBoys'' as a old comedian coming out of retirement to work for a partner even though they can't stand each other. That role got him the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for Best Supporting Actor, which made him the oldest male winner in the Actor division (he was 80) until Creator/ChristopherPlummer won at age 82.

After that splash, Burns reshaped his image as a beloved old comedian who could hold the spotlight against any young rival with ease. He further buttressed his fame with his ''Film/OhGod'' film series where his playing of God further played on his incredible longevity as a performer.

Until his death a few months after hitting 100, Burns had a secure public image as a pop star who had been around forever.
!!Works featuring George Burns

* ''Film/{{Lambchops}}'' (1929): Vitaphone short film with Gracie Allen
* ''Radio/TheBurnsAndAllenShow'': Started out as a radio program before transitioning to television
* ''Film/TheSunshineBoys'' (1975)
* ''Film/SgtPeppersLonelyHeartsClubBand'' (1978)
* ''Film/{{Going in Style|1979}}'' (1979)
* ''Film/OhGod'' (1977)
** ''Oh God! Book II'' (1980)
** ''Oh God! You Devil'' (1984)
* ''Film/TheRadiolandMurders'' (1994)