Comic Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen: July 26,1895

Gracie Allen was born to George Allen and Molly Darragh, who were of Irish Catholic extraction. The Darraghs are listed as being from County Antrim with Gracie’s father, Patrick, born in 1833 and married Margaret Peggy McKillip from Ballymoney, County Antrim. The Darraghs were from County Antrim. Gracie’s father, Patrick, born in 1833 and married Margaret Peggy McKillip from Ballymoney, County Antrim. 

Gracie made her first appearance on stage at age three and was given her first chance "On Air" by Eddie Cantor. She was educated at the Star of the Sea Convent School and during that time became a talented dancer. She soon began performing Irish folk dances with her three sisters, who were billed as "The Four Colleens." In 1909, Allen joined her sister, Bessie, as a vaudeville performer. At a performance in 1922 Allen met George Burns and the two formed a comedy act. The two were married on January 7, 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio.

CBS Publicity Still, 1955

Depending on the source, Gracie Allen is alleged to have been born on July 26 in 1895, 1896, 1902, or 1906. All public records held by the City and County of San Francisco were destroyed in the earthquake and great fire of April 1906. Her husband, George Burns, also professed not to know exactly how old she was, though it was presumably he who provided the date July 26, 1902, which appears on her death record. Her crypt marker also shows her year of birth as 1902. Allen used to claim that she was born in 1906 but, when pressed for evidence, she would say that her birth certificate had been destroyed in the earthquake. When the person she was telling pointed out that she was born in July but the earthquake was three months earlier in April, she would simply smile and say, "Well, it was an awfully big earthquake." The most reliable information comes from the U.S. Census data collected on June 1, 1900.

According to the information in the Census records for the State of California, City and County of San Francisco, enumeration district 38, family 217, page 11-A, one Grace Allen -- daughter of George and Maggie Allen, and youngest sister of Bessie, Hazel and Pearl Allen -- was born in California in July 1895. In the census taken on April 15, 1910, however, for San Francisco's 39th Assembly District, Enumeration District 216, Page 5A, Grace Allen is listed as being 13 (instead of 14). Since Gracie was alive in June 1900, it is not possible for her to have been born after that date. That leaves 1895 (1900 census) or 1896 (1910 census) as possibilities. It should be further noted, however, that census enumerators received their information by word of mouth, often from third parties, and discrepancies between ages from one decade's census to another were not uncommon in this time period. Grace Allen died on August 27, 1964.

 

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Tags: Acting, Comedy, Comic, Irish, Performers, San Francisco, family history, genealogy

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