Fans gathered Sunday at the celebrity-inscribed courtyard outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre, where George Burns left imprints of his hands, feet and cigar and wrote: “I’m ‘Going in Style.”’
“I feel sad,” said Connie Eck of Prospect, Pa. “My kids won’t grow up to know him.”
“He’s one of the constants. Everybody knows George Burns,” said her friend, Cathi Crifaci of Butler, Pa. “I’m glad he made it to 100.”
Burns died at his Beverly Hills home on Saturday, seven weeks past his 100th birthday.
Family members and close friends will attend a private funeral scheduled for Tuesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, where Burns will be buried beside Gracie Allen, his wife and longtime partner who died in 1964.
“There will be no celebrities,” said Irving Fein, Burns’ manager. “We hope to have a (public) memorial service in a month or two and then all the celebrities can come.”
Sunday’s remembrances were as low-key as Burns’ famously dry wit.
At his neat, flower-bordered home, a passing jogger left a handful of red flowers Sunday. The day before, someone had left a pot of white daisies, along with a cigar and a note: “George - One for the road. We’ll miss you.”
A fluttering memorial candle was left at the house Sunday by a Jewish group to honor the man born Nathan Birnbaum on Jan. 20, 1896, on New York’s impoverished Lower East Side. Through the weekend, his name flashed on the marquee at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where Burns often performed.
“There was something about his innate goodness, his good spirits,” Steve Allen recalled. “I never heard him swearing or grousing about his competitor. I don’t think he saw any competitors in the world and, in a sense, he had none. He was the champ at what he did.”
At 80, Burns received an Academy Award for 1975’s “The Sunshine Boys.” And he was immortalized in concrete at the Chinese Theatre for the 1979 movie “Going in Style,” in which he, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg played three elderly bank robbers.
But it was “Oh, God” and its two sequels that brought Burns to the attention of a new generation.