Comedienne Gracie Allen told her husband, George Burns one day,
“I’m tired of knitting this sweater. I think I’ll run for president this year.“
So, began the spoof campaign of a big radio star who injected some fun into American politics at the end of the Great Depression and the dawn of World War II.
Allen was the co-star of The Burns and Allen Show, on which Allen’s persona was an innocent, bubble-headed dame. With quips like,
“When I was born, I was so surprised I didn’t talk for a year and a half.“
In 1940, war loomed in Europe and into these serious times stepped Gracie Allen who created a new party called the “Surprise Party” and Allen’s campaign took off. Soon she got an endorsement from Harvard University and the duo embarked on a nationwide train campaign, promoting their party with a new mascot (the kangaroo) and optimistic slogan,
“It’s in the bag.“
Her first announced platform was titled “Unemployment and where to get it,” and she also suggested putting members of Congress on a commission basis. What started as a publicity stunt had became a national phenomenon, and by Election Day, beloved candidate Allen actually received an estimated 42,000 votes, but failed to beat out Franklin D. Roosevelt who snagged an unprecedented third term in office.
Here’s the two on their radio show and Gracie singing her theme song. Say goodnight, Gracie.