Saturday, March 9, 2013

Celebrity Grave: Entertainer George Burns 1996

George Burns (January 20, 1896 – March 9, 1996), born Nathan Birnbaum, was an American comedian, actor, and writer.

His career spanned vaudeville, film, radio, and television, with and without his wife, Gracie Allen. His arched eyebrow and cigar smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three quarters of a century. Beginning at the age of 79, Burns' career was resurrected as an amiable, beloved and unusually active old comedian, continuing to work until shortly before his death, in 1996, at the age of 100.


Gracie Allen's Death

After fighting a long battle with heart disease, Gracie Allen suffered a fatal heart attack in her home on August 27, 1964 at the age of 69. She was entombed in a mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. In his second book, They Still Love Me in Altoona, Burns wrote that he found it impossible to sleep after her death until he decided to sleep in the bed she used during her illness. He also visited her grave once a month, professing to talk to her about whatever he was doing at the time — including, he said, trying to decide whether he really should accept the Sunshine Boys role Jack Benny had to abandon because of his own failing health. He visited the tomb with Ed Bradley during a 60 Minutes interview on November 6, 1988.

George Burns' Death

In July 1994, Burns fell in his bathtub and had to undergo surgery to remove fluid that had collected on his brain. His health began to decline afterward. All performances celebrating his 100th birthday were canceled. In January 1995, 99 year old Burns made one of his last public appearances at the unveiling of a street named in his honor, and in December of that year, Burns was well enough to attend a Christmas party hosted by Frank Sinatra, where he reportedly caught the flu, which weakened him further. On January 20, 1996, he celebrated his 100th birthday, but was no longer mobile enough to perform or even attend a birthday party taking place that night and instead spent the evening at home. He did release a statement joking how he would love for his 100th birthday, "a night with Sharon Stone."


On March 9, 1996, just forty-nine days after his milestone birthday, Burns died in his Beverly Hills home of cardiac arrest. His funeral was held three days later at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather church in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale. George Burns was buried in his best dark blue suit, light blue shirt and red tie along with three cigars in his pocket, his toupee, his watch that Gracie had given him, his ring, and in his pocket, his keys and his wallet with 10 $100 bills, a five and three ones.


As much as he looked forward to reaching the age of 100, Burns also stated that he looked forward to death, saying that the day he died, he would be with Gracie again in heaven. Upon being interred with Gracie, the crypt's marker was changed to, "Gracie Allen and George Burns—Together Again." George had said that he wanted Gracie to have top billing.



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