Biography of a Great Smoker George Burns
Many of the stars of this feature have been famed for enjoying tobacco AND their professional endeavours, however George Burns is beloved for enjoying tobacco whilst engaging in his professional endeavours. The star of film, television and stage was never seen without his trademark cigar and rounded glass, leading to innumerate amiable parodies.
George Burns stayed loyal to his favourite brand of cigars throughout his career: the inexpensive El Producto. Shying away from more expensive cigars such as Havanas for logistical reasons; Burns was enamoured with the way in which his El Producto cigars would stay lit throughout his performances whereas tighter packed cigars may go out. He even attributed some of his success and popularity to his choice of cigar: “if you have to stop your act to keep lighting your cigar, the audience goes out.”
Burns credits his 70 year love of cigars with helping him reach the grand old age of 100. At the age of 98 he quipped: “If I had taken my doctorâ€™s advice and quit smoking when he advised me to, I wouldnâ€™t have lived to go to his funeral.” Burns was used to a life in the spotlight, he formed a singing quartet with three
friends called the Pee-Wee Quartet at the tender age of seven.
“We were all about the same age, six and seven, and when we were bored making syrup, we used to practice singing harmony in the basement. One day our letter carrier came down to the basement. He came down to the basement once to deliver a letter and heard the four of us kids singing harmony. He liked our style, so we sang a couple more songs for him. Then we looked up at the head of the stairs and saw three or four people listening to us and smiling. In
fact, they threw down a couple of pennies. So I said to the kids I was working with, no more chocolate syrup. Its show business from now on.”
Something of a workaholic, George Burns worked well into his 90s and even authored a book titled “100 Years, 100 Stories” on his centenary.
At the age of 100 years and 46 days, Burns died at his home in Beverly Hills of a cardiac arrest. He was buried with the artefacts and pieces that meant the most to him â€“ his house keys, his wedding ring, a wristwatch, his toupee and then three of his beloved cigars in his coat pocket.