Burns & Allen Love That Bob!

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! Following completion of our Sitcom Tuesday coverage on the best of The George Burns And Gracie Allen Show (1950-1958, CBS), I’d have been delighted to take this post to feature my picks for the finest selections from the single-season Gracie-less continuation of that series, The George Burns Show (1958-1959, NBC), which included the same cast and ran for 25 episodes (some filmed, some live). But with so few in circulation — there’s a recent DVD set that includes three outings, including the first and last — that’s really not feasible. Instead, I’m going to highlight the Burns & Allen crew’s appearances on McCadden’s second half-hour comedy, The Bob Cummings Show (1955-1959, NBC/CBS), which was known in syndication as Love That Bob and has been featured in several past Wildcard Wednesday entries.

As noted several weeks ago, Cummings first appeared as himself in a fifth season 1954 episode of Burns & Allen, “Gracie Thinks Bob Cummings Is In Love With Her,” to promote the premiere of his own upcoming series. He would later return, but in his Bob Collins character, for a seventh season 1957 episode entitled “A Marital Mix-Up.” Yet the crossovers were a two-way street, and George Burns repaid the favor by making a brief cameo, alongside Gracie, in Bob Cummings‘ second season 1955 episode “Hawaii Calls,” and later appeared for a whole scene in the final season’s “Bob Butters Beck, Beck Butters Better,” which aired in 1958 and is currently in the public domain. However that’s only the tip of the iceberg…

As a trade-off for Cummings’ 1957 appearance on Burns & Allen, the two leads, along with Bea Benaderet and Larry Keating, guest starred in character for a memorable Bob Cummings excursion where Blanche and Gracie try to find Bob a wife. (Incidentally, this was Benaderet’s second appearance on the series. In full old lady garb, she played one of Grandpa Collins’ love interests in an entry called “Scramble For Grandpa.”) This full-blown crossover with the Burnses and Mortons — “Bob Meets The Mortons” — aired on CBS as part of Bob Cummings‘ third season on March 21, 1957. It was directed by Cummings himself, written by former Burns & Allen scribe Paul Henning along with Phil Shuken, Dick Wesson, and Shirley Gordon, and can be enjoyed below, taken from an early ’80s syndicated run.


And, last but not least, I’ve got another treat for subscribers who comment below with interest — access to a Bob Cummings two-parter from May/June 1959 in which Harry Von Zell, coming off a run in The George Burns Show, becomes romantically entangled with Schultzy’s friend Martha (played by the sublime Rose Marie). Titled “Bob Helps Martha” and “Bob Helps Von Zell,” these offerings are a lot of fun. (And George Burns also appears in the latter!)



Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Monday for a musical theatre rarity!