Comedienne, Actress. The wife of George Burns, for more than 30 years she appeared on radio, television, and film, playing a single scatterbrained character, with her husband playing opposite as the straight man. She was born Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen in San Francisco to George and Margaret Allen joining a family consisting of three sisters and a brother. George Allen was a song and dance man who abandoned his family when Gracie was but five years old. Barely three years old, she became a vaudeville performer appearing with the family Irish dancing group called "The Allen Sisters" consisting of her three older sisters, Bessie, Hazel and Pearl. Her education was at the Star of the Sea Convent in San Francisco. After graduation she was again a member of the family group. Venturing to New York, fearing her career was over at eighteen after quitting in a dispute with the Larry Reilly Stock Company, she was preparing for a life outside the theatre by attending secretarial school in New York. With hope of a career still burning, Gracie and a friend went to Union Hill, New Jersey to view a vaudeville act which was splitting up. The members were George Burns and Billy Lorraine, both needing a new partner. George was selected resulting in the "George Burns-Gracie Allen" Vaudeville act. Four years later, they were married in Cleveland by a Justice of The Peace. The couple had marginal success in their early days but did make a short film for Paramount. However, it was radio, starting in 1932, that gained the duo its greatest fame with a weekly comedy program. The couple jointly made a few movies and Gracie make an occasional picture appearing solo. With radio era on the wain, 1950 saw their long run on Television begin..."The George Burns-Gracie Allen Show." Migraine headaches and a heart condition forced her to retire permanently in 1958 and she spent her final few years caring for her family, gardening and painting. Gracie passed away quietly from heart failure as she slept in her Beverly Hills residence. The couple avoided religious conflicts in their mixed marriage all their wedded life and did so even in death. Gracie a Catholic, had her funeral at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills so George a Jew, could be buried next to her. They then chose a non-Catholic, non-Jewish cemetery for their final resting place. Gracie was placed in a companion crypt in a mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. George who lived to be 100 and never remarried, was interred beside Gracie upon his death in 1996. The words "Together Again" are engraved which reminds readers of the amazing, enduring love story attested to the best remembered couple in Hollywood history. Gracie is buried above in the chamber because George wanted her to have top billing. Her career and legacy...The Burns & Allen Show" (on CBS and NBC from 1934 to 1950) was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1994. Radio turned to television success in the 50's with the decade long "The George Burns-Gracie Allen Show." Some solo filmography: "Lambchops" "Walking the Baby" "College Humor" "Love in Bloom" "College Swing" "Honolulu" and "Two Girls and a Sailor." Some notable TV appearances: "The Jack Benny Program" "Whats My Line" "This is Your Life" "The Bob Cummings Show" and "Biography." The annual Gracie Allen Awards are presented by American Women in Radio and Television, Inc., to programs by, for and about women. In 1995, The city of Los Angeles renamed the eastern end of Alden Drive "Gracie Allen Drive" creating the Burns and Allen Intersection as it crossed the previously renamed northern end of Hamel Road "George Burns Road." In 1991, the book "Gracie" was published. It was an attribute to Gracie Allen written by George at age ninety two and highlights the story of their life together.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
1896–1996 (m. 1926)