|Acting legend George Burns to perform in BCPA production|
|Written by Jacob Lambert, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 12:29|
With nearly a century’s worth of experience in show business, Academy Award-winning actor, comedian, singer, dancer, and author, George Burns, amassed one of the most impressive careers in entertainment history.
“One thing that’s interesting about George Burns is that he spanned basically four eras of show business,” Steve Fast, marketing manager for the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, said. “He started out in vaudeville, moved to radio, then transformed from radio to having a hit television show … then he had to recreate his career as a solo act,” he added.
This Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m., the BCPA will feature “Say Goodnight Gracie,” a Tony nominated Broadway play in which George Burns — played by Alan Safier — shares the story of his entertainment legacy in a comedic, yet sincere style.
Throughout the show, Burns will discuss his all-encompassing career in show business, including his humble beginnings as a performer in vaudeville where Burns met his future show business partner and wife of 42 years, Gracie Allen. Together they created “The Burns and Allen Show,” which dominated the radio waves for nearly 20 years with 45 million listeners tuning in each week.
By 1950 the show had made a successful transition into the new world of television, entertaining audiences with a comedic approach to family life in the 1950s. Burns played the straight man as Allen used her “illogical logic” in the role of the oblivious wife with witty punch lines.
By the age of 68, the second half of Burns’ career had only just begun. Having lost his wife to heart disease, Burns became all the more involved with his work, making an impact on both sides of the camera.
In the 1960s, Burns was a member of the production team for the immensely popular “Mr. Ed.” And at the age of 79, after a 36-year hiatus from starring in films, Burns won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his co-starring role in “The Sunshine Boys.”
He went on to feature in eight more films, including his starring role in “Oh, God” in 1977.
According to Fast, even though Burns’ career was before the time of most of today’s college students, there is still much to be learned from the impact Burns had on the entertainment industry during his 100 years of life.
“You don’t realize how people can bridge generations. George Burns started before there was T.V. and everything we think of now as entertainment,” Fast said.
He added that Burns’ work as both a stand-up comedian and solo performer are similar to that of the modern day Steven Colbert and the “Colbert Report.”
“Some of the things that you see in the modern media are just the latest way of presenting an old form of show business technique,” Fast said.
“To think that there was somebody in show business that was doing this for such a long time is pretty amazing,” he added.