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Say Goodnight, Gracie
on April 14, 2004
George Burns published this wonderful tribute to his wife when he was ninety-two years old, still head over heels in love with his dear Gracie, who died thirty years earlier. This book is a memoir of their personal and professional life together starting as the toast of vaudeville, continuing with their radio show for seventeen years, and later, situation comedy stars on television. Both George and Gracie started appearing on stage as children, and they teamed up in 1923, earning five dollars a week, doing four shows a day. At first, Gracie was the straight man and George said the punch lines, but they soon learned it was better the other way around. Gracie played the ditzy girlfriend and wife for thirty-five years and, as George said, he just stood next to her. He never stopped being amazed at her talent, beauty, and intelligence, and he loved her more with each passing day. The book ends with her death, from heart disease in 1958, and one is left with a lovely and intimate picture of their marriage.
Burns wrote the book as if he were talking with a dear friend, and there is a vaudeville joke in nearly every paragraph. The jokes are still funny today, and the book is a quick and very entertaining read. There is a lot of behind the scenes chatter about their famous Hollywood friends, especially Jack Benny, but it is first and foremost a tribute to Gracie and the love they shared for so many years. I heartily recommend this book, especially to those who enjoyed the Burns and Allen TV show in the fifties. It will bring back a lot of happy memories.