George Burns & Gracie Allen Program
Watching the Neighbor’s Daughter June 16, 1949
On this show, jumped-to conclusions and mistaken identities take George and Gracie on their prevalent zany course. With Bill goodwill, Rudy Vallee and Richard Crenna.
George Burns (Born Nathan Birnbaum) was the ninth of 12 children born to Louis and Dorothy Birnbaum in New York City. His father was a substitute cantor at the local synagogue but did not work very often. Nattie (as he was known to his family) started working in 1903 after his father’s death from influenza, shining shoes, running errands, and selling newspapers. When he landed a job as a syrup maker in a local candy shop at the age of seven, Nattie Birnbaum was discovered singing harmony with the Pee-Wee Quartet. George recalled, “We started out singing on ferryboats, in saloons, in brothels, and on street corners. We’d put our hats down for donations. Sometimes the customers threw something in the hats. Sometimes they took something out of the hats. Sometimes they took the hats.”
Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen, known as Gracie Allen, alleged that she was born in July of 1906. Her husband listed her birth year as 1902 but no one really knows the real date (or year for that matter) as many records were destroyed in the earthquake and great fire of April, 1906. A Search of Census records show that her birth year was more likely 1895 or 1896.
Burns and Allen weren’t afraid of pulling a stunt now and again. In 1940, Gracie announced she was running for President of the United States on the Surprise Party ticket. For this stunt, Burns and Allen did a cross-country whistlestop campaign tour on a private train, performing their live radio show in different cities. In one of her campaign speeches Gracie said, “I don’t know much about the Lend-Lease Bill, but if we owe it we should pay it.” Allen was also the subject of one of S.S. Van Dine’s famous Philo Vance mystery novels, The Gracie Allen Murder Case. Typically, she couldn’t resist posturing a classic Gracie Allen review: “S.S. Van Dine is silly to spend six months writing a novel when you can buy one for two dollars and ninety five cents.”
Richard Diamond, Private Detective:
Butcher Shop Protection 3/9/51
This series starred Dick Powell (no relation to William Powell) which aired from 1949 to 1953, first on NBC, then ABC and finally on CBS. The title character was a rather light-hearted but quick-witted detective who often ended the episodes singing to his girlfriend, Helen.
The series moved to television in 1957 and was produced by Powell’s company, Four Star Television, and ran for three years. On TV, David Janssen played a more hard-boiled private eye and his secretary renamed “Sam”, was only ever shown on camera from the waist down, most assuredly to display her beautiful legs (which belonged to Mary Tyler Moore).
Mr. Powell was married three times, his brides included Joan Blondell and June Allyson, with whom he had two children. Powell’s ranch-style house in Mandeville Canyon, Los Angeles, was used as the setting for the television show Hart to Hart.
Next Week: Your Truly, Johnny dollar