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Comic George Burns Decides To Take It Easy On His 100th Birthday Frail Health Forced Him To Cancel Las Vegas Appearance

Sun., Jan. 21, 1996, midnight

After years of poking fun at his age in the spotlight, George Burns spent his 100th birthday Saturday at home with a private audience - his family.

No celebration was planned, said the comedian’s manager, Irving Fein.

“George is the same as he was a week ago. He is weak, and he’s not eating much. He’ll just take it easy today.”

Still, the century mark wasn’t going by unnoticed.

In Las Vegas, Caesars Palace planned to display an hourlong “Happy Birthday” message on its 70-foot tall electronic marquee to its longtime headliner.

Burns had to cancel sold-out birthday performances at Caesars because of frail health.

On cable, the American Movie Classics channel showed comedy shorts of Burns and his late wife, Gracie Allen. Burns’ movie, “Oh, God!” was shown on superstation WGN.

Birthday wishes also came from the White House.

“George Burns’ knowing smile and dry wit have touched the hearts and funny bones of three generations,” President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement.

“His youthful attitude, now a century old, continues to inspire us today. We send him all our best on this happy occasion,” the Clintons said.

Burns, who uses a wheelchair to get around, suffered injuries from a bathtub fall last year and caught the flu after attending Frank Sinatra’s Christmas party.

Two weeks ago, he stopped his daily trips to his Hollywood office and to the Hillcrest Country Club to play bridge.

Instead of receiving gifts for his 100th, Burns decided to give one: a hefty donation to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to create the George Burns and Gracie Allen Research Institute.

That coincided with a birthday dinner Tuesday that Burns was unable to attend.


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