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 father’s passing, had to pull their own weight. As a result, by fourth grade the young entertainer traded school for show business—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 “George Burns & Gracie Allen Show.” It took a while after Allen’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 Simon’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. Pepper’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.