Friday, October 14, 2016

Old Time Radio: The Burns & Allen Show (1937)

You  might find it hard to believe, but the radio version of The Burns & Allen Show only ran for 13 years (1937-50), criss-crossing between NBC & CBS over the course of this period. Prior to this, the comedy legends' previous series ran for three years (1934-7) under the title, The Adventures of Gracie.

George Burns & Gracie Allen perfected the side-splitting act with George as the straight man or foil opposite Gracie's airheaded persona, which made them very, very wealthy. In real life, Gracie wasn't the prototypical "Dumb Dora" she played on radio and later television.

In writing about their television show (1950-8), I felt that it just didn't move me. Compared to other sitcoms that came after it, it was, well, normal. In other words, something was lost in the translation from radio to television. I think part of the reason you don't see the TV show now is because there might be some people who'd take exception to Gracie's act without understanding the role she was playing.

The episode we're presenting today is featured on a 10-CD set of radio shows selected by talk show legend Larry King. Future President Ronald Reagan guest stars, and, as you'll hear, he was already developing the quick wit that marked his presidency 30 years later.

Gracie Allen left us in 1964. George Burns soldiered on until his 100th birthday, winning new generations of fans along the way.

Rating: A-.

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