Comedian George Burns died in his sleep on this day in 1996, just weeks after his 100th birthday. Burns came from a family of 12 children who, especially after his fatherâ€™s passing, had to pull their own weight. As a result, by fourth grade the young entertainer traded school for show businessâ€”tired of shining shoes and selling papers. The rest is history, based largely on his teaming with and marriage to Gracie Allen. Together, the comedy duo starred in a few unsuccessful short comic films, aired their own radio show and eventually became wildly popular with the â€œGeorge Burns & Gracie Allen Show.â€ It took a while after Allenâ€™s death for Burns to regain his stride but in 1975, he finally got it back, winning an Oscar for his supporting role in Neil Simonâ€™s The Sunshine Boys. The role also earned him a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor.
Factoid: Other movies credited to George Burns included the Oh God! series, starring the actor as God, Sgt. Pepperâ€™s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Radioland Murders, his last screen role. Over his lifetime, Burns was also honored with a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.