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Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (9) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 2 August 1890Van Buren, Arkansas, USA
Date of Death 2 February 1956Encino, California, USA  (kidney cancer)
Birth NameRobin Burn
Nickname 'Bazooka' Burns; The Arkansas Traveler

Mini Bio (1)

After growing up in a small Arkansas town, Bob Burns qualified as a civil engineer, but also worked as a salesman, farmed peanuts, and in World War I was a Marine sergeant and champion rifleman. His great interest from boyhood was music, and from 1911 his main career was in entertainment. He played musical instruments including his trademark "bazooka", led bands, and did blackface comedy in vaudeville, carnivals, and appeared in early talking films. In 1931 he began a long career in radio, his first real success in 1935 leading to a six year stint on Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall show and ultimately (1941-47) his own program, playing the bazooka and telling tall tales about mythical hillbilly relatives like Uncle Fud and Aunt Doody. His association with Crosby led to a long-term movie contract at Paramount, for 12 popular films beginning with Rhythm on the Range (1936). His film character was a slow talking, philosophical, bazooka-playing hillbilly or bumpkin who may have looked gullible, but eventually outwitted the city slickers. Despite this stereotyped character, Bob did draw the line somewhere; he and Paramount parted ways after he refused to appear in a proposed 1941 film which he felt would ridicule "the people of his native hills". He made a few films for other studios, then retired from the entertainment field in 1947. Land investment had made Bob rich, and he spent his last years on his 200-acre model farm in Canoga Park, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Spouse (3)

Harriet M. Foster (31 May 1939 - 2 February 1956) (his death) (3 children)
Judy Canova (1936 - 1939) (divorced)
Elizabeth Fisher (22 September 1921 - 1936) (her death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

Hillbilly humor, backwoods philosophy, and tall tales
Playing his homemade musical instrument, the 'bazooka.'

Trivia (9)

His birth year is sometimes cited as 1893 or 1896; 1890 is correct. His birthplace sometimes given as Greenwood, Arkansas.
Father, William Robert Burn, civil engineer; mother, nee Emma Needham.
Bob Burns coined the word 'bazooka' (which he copyrighted in 1920) for the homemade musical instrument he invented in 1905 from two gas pipes and a whiskey funnel. The weapon of the same name was named after Burns' device during World War II.
Some published filmographies wrongly credit Bob with roles in several Gene Autry films which should be credited to Bob Burns, a character actor in westerns.
His four children: Robert Jr. (first marriage); Barbara Ann, William Robin, Stephen (second marriage).
His hobbies included farming, astronomy, shooting, fishing, and a private aviary.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 78. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Not to be confused with Western actor Bob Burns, or comedy actor Bobby Burns, some of whose credits occasionally pop up in the filmographies of 'Bob Burns (I)'.
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 1601 Vine Street and for Radio at 6541 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Personal Quotes (3)

I am supposed to be the Ozark Sage, though there are plenty of wise fellows back home who look like William Cullen Bryant and have even longer beards. To be a sage, I guess the formula is to stay a long way off from where you're born, or else you'll get found out.
If the country folk I tell these stories about don't mind, I can't see why the city people want to kick. City folks are the same everywhere. They ain't different enough to be interesting.
Some folks out here get inflated ideas. But they usually have to come down to earth. I know I'm the same fellow I was years ago when I was glad to make $25 a week. I haven't gotten any smarter.

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