Oct. 3, 1934
The World Series matchup between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals became a part of the act when George Burns and Gracie Allen took to the airwaves of WQAN in Scranton.
Over the course of their live appearance, the married couple talked about the World Series with Ed Simons, Capitol Theater manager. The witty banter of the legendary comedic duo had the large crowd laughing in the WQAN Studio inside the Scranton Times Building. The station’s announcer noted later that the pair had his head spinning from all the jokes.
Following their performance, Burns and Allen signed autographs and spoke with the crowd in attendance.
On their way out of the studio, Allen grabbed the coat of a Times reporter who was walking back to the newsroom. Believing the man to be her husband, she said, “That’s not the way out, Georgie. You are still all mixed up.” She blushed when she realized her mistake.
The duo were in Scranton for three days of performances at the Capitol Theater on Penn Avenue. Tickets cost 25 cents and 40 cents for the matinee and 40 cents and 55 cents for the evening performance.
This wasn’t the first time Burns and Allen came to the Electric City. They first performed in Scranton at the Poli Theater in July 1923. Joining them on the bill for that visit was “Steppin Fools” with Helen Morgan, “Cupid’s Close-ups” with Arthur Jarrett, Gene Morgan and Harry Carey.
“We were just so-and-so then and nothing more than one act on a bill,” Allen said of that appearance.
They returned in 1925, performing at the Capitol Theater. Also on the bill for that stop were Vi Quinn & Her Entertainers, Herb Lloyd and the Surprise Sextette.
While still performing at theaters around the country, the duo also had a successful run on radio from 1934 to 1950. They moved on to television with “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” in the fall of 1950. The show ran on CBS for eight years.
During the 1930s, the pair also appeared in several films, including “The Big Broadcast,” “Many Happy Returns” and “Honolulu.”
Check out the latest episode of the “Historically Hip” local history podcast, in which Brian Fulton talks with Times-Tribune columnist and editor Chris Kelly about the soon-to-be published book “Lackawanna Memories.” Find it online at AccessNEPA.com or listen through iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 14 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast