Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 93rd Birthday George Burns

Within a couple months, I picked up a client of my own, The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. I was hired to promote the "Campaign for the 21st Century," a big celebrity event with a price tag of $100,000 a seat! The guest list included Stephen Spielberg and others in his A-list category, all paying a fortune to attend. Comedian George Burns was donating a million dollars to the hospital so his involvement was key to my public relations campaign. As one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned vaudeville, film, radio and television, George was quite a media draw.

A couple months before the big event, George was turning 93-years-old. So I planned a birthday party for him at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, famous as the place Richard Gere's character lived in the movie Pretty Woman. The party guests were members of the press and just about everyone that was invited showed up.

I met George in person the day of the party. National and local media were setting up in the small room off the hotel's lobby as we waited for the star to arrive. When I saw George enter the room, my heart skipped a beat. He looked so old, hunched over, shuffling to the podium. I thought, how is this man going to remember what to say?

There was a hush in the room as the media pointed their camera's toward the comedian, actor and writer. When the lights of the camera's lit George's face, he immediately stood up straight, lit his signature cigar and became 20-years younger. He talked about the event, hitting all the important details (and telling hilarious jokes) as the cameras rolled. At the end of his presentation, a young model I hired came forward carrying a cake that looked like a bag of money. The amiable, beloved and unusually active for his age comedian was a media darling and stories about the party aired internationally! George was turning 93 and my career was back on track!

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