Burns & Allen

Gracie Allen and George Burns

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George Burns and Gracie Allen began their careers as regular radio performers in 1932, when they became regulars on Guy Lombardo's show. Before that, they had done several years in vaudeville, being signed to the Orpheum circuit in 1927, and had appeared in several movies, including a number of shorts for Warners and Paramount.

By 1934, they had taken over the Lombardo CBS show, now called The Adventures of Gracie. They enjoyed high ratings for a few years, but by 1942 the ratings were sagging. Burns and Allen had been playing a couple that were dating on and off, and George Burns said later that he had sensed their "flirtation act" was getting old, as they were getting older. Until then, they had a let's-put-on-a-show format similar to Jack Benny's. They switched to a situation comedy format where they played a married couple, recovered in the ratings, and were a permanent hit from then on.

Burns and Allen's radio shows were sponsored by several products, including Hinds Honey and Almond Cream, Spam, Maxwell House, and Swan Soap ("breaks in two with just a flick of the wrist".) The ads for Spam are particularly interesting, as Spam was a fairly new product at the time.

After the switch to situation comedy, the show's regulars included Mel Blanc as a downtrodden mailman, very similar to Bill Thompson's "Wallace Whimple" on the Fibber McGee and Molly show. Announcer Bill Goodwin was worked into the stories often, and was portrayed as a ladies' man.

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