George Burns

George Burns (Naftaly — later Nathan — Birnbaum) was born in New York City on this date in 1896 to a family that had immigrated from what is now southeastern Poland. He quit school in the fourth grade to become an entertainer. Burns’ vaudeville career was floundering until he met Gracie Allen in 1923 (they would […]

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February 26: Tony Randall

Actor Tony Randall (Arthur Leonard Rosenberg), best known for his role as the fastidious Felix Unger in the TV series based on Neil Simon’ play The Odd Couple, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on this date in 1920. Randall studied theater and dance in New York prior to serving with the Signal Corps during World […]

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July 4: Neil Simon

Playwright Neil Simon, who has received more Tony and Oscar nominations than any other writer, was born in New York on this date in 1927. Simon grew up poor and unhappy. He found work as a comedy writer for radio and television, including for The Phil Silvers Show and Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows […]

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May 28: Lucille Kallen, Comedy Writer

The first woman writer on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows — amid a crew that included Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, and Mel Brooks — Lucille Kallen was born in Los Angeles on this date in 1922. A Juilliard music drop-out, she honed her comic skills at Camp Tamiment in the Poconos, met her husband […]

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January 20: George Burns

George Burns (Nathan Birnbaum) was born in New York City on this day in 1896. He quit school in the fourth grade to be an entertainer. His vaudeville career was floundering until he met Gracie Allen in 1923 (they married in 1926) and started playing the cigar-smoking straight man to her silly, literal-minded woman — […]

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Benkshaft (Longing)

by Rokhl Kafrissen I love to complain about my time as an undergraduate at Brandeis, and the recent barrage of 10th-year reunion mail isn’t exactly letting the sleeping dogs of bitterness lie. Yet I did have some consolations during my college career. One was a CD I picked up the summer before my senior year, […]

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