I often get people asking me what I’m reading. Perhaps it has something to do with talking to authors on my podcast or other creatives who also read. Either way, I find myself talking about books quite a bit.
When asked about Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns, I described it as perhaps the most romantic book I have ever read. And that was when I was only about a third of the way through it.
Now that I have completed it, I can say it is definitely one of the most romantic books I have ever read, and it’s pretty funny, too. I’m of an age where I’m old enough to know who George Burns is – he’s the one with the cigar – but I’m too young to really know much about Burns and Allen, though I can promise you that I’ll be correcting that in the near future.
Gracie: A Love Story is the story of Grace Allen as told by her husband George Burns. The comedy, whether it’s Burns getting a joke in or describing an old performance or routine, is timeless, and that makes this all the easier to read.
For anyone aspiring to work in show business, this book serves as an example of how it used to be. Burns and Allen started in vaudeville, moved to radio, then motion pictures, and eventually to television. This was the progression of entertainment during the earlier part of the 20th century. If you thought keeping up with streaming services was complicated, imagine entire new mediums coming along every few years.
And yet, the more things change the more they stay the same. Burns writes, “Once there was a time when there was no ‘Johnny Carson Show,’ or network news, and if a person wanted to be an overnight success he or she had to work a lot of nights.” Funny enough, there is no Johnny Carson Show now either!
But this book is not just about their comedy act. It isn’t the definitive story of Burns and Allen either, though I’m sure it hits all the right notes. This book is about Grace Allen, who made George Burns a true success only after they joined each other on stage. This book is about the love of his life and documents the fun they had together in a way that makes you smile.
The comedy of Burns and Allen as described in the book is “the humor of recognition.” That’s a humor that never goes out of style, which is why the jokes in this book are still funny and why most of the described routines still get a laugh out of the reader, too.
So why is it the most romantic book out there? How many husbands do you know who can write their wife’s biography after she’s dead, give her all the credit, and still get some good jokes in? Personally, I can only name one: George Burns. Then again, he did play God once or twice…