It is 20th January, just 121 years since Nathan Birnbaum was born. Since Jewish boys must become composers or violinists, Nathan (Nattie to his mum) at some stage decided to become George, George Burns. Just over 100 years later, in 1996, George left to spend eternity with Gracie. What better way to celebrate his birthday than to quote a few lines from the script of his life. Every day of his life George Burns was getting older but he didn’t ever get old. If you live to be one hundred, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age. Nevertheless, there were some realities that even a stand-up comic had to accept: Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope. To balance this physical catastrophe George’s optimism was ever present.
I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.
George Burns smoked cigars. One compatriot estimated that Burns had supported the tobacco industry to a total of about 300,000 cigars in his 100 years. Happiness?
A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman – or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.
But what about a good drink?
It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or the fourteenth.
George Burns had two careers, the first with Gracie Allen (Say goodnight, Gracie) and the second starting with the movie, The Sunshine Boys, for which he received the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor when he was 80. This was followed by a trilogy of ‘Oh, God!’ movies with George Burns playing an unforgettable Almighty. Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. As an actor who loved his profession he sought to get the best laugh from his audience and as such he was a grand success. I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. And on the subject of business activity – Don’t stay in bed unless you can make money in bed.
Any views on politics?
Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair!
George Burns lived to the full with just a touch of the ironic, though always laughing at himself. Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city and when I was a boy the Dead Sea was just sick!
His philosophy was poignant and dripped with reality. He had near perfect timing.
The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.
George Burns, whose lines are immortal.