Friends fete Burns’ centennial

GOOD MORNING: If George Burns’ birth announcement, Jan. 20, 1896, had appeared anywhere, said Larry Gelbart, “it surely would have been in the yet-to-be-founded show business bible, Variety — with his arrival listed under ‘New Acts.'” Gelbart was speaking at Tuesday p.m.’s Four Seasons hotel dinner noting Burns’ 100th, with $ 100,000-or-more contributors benefiting Cedars-Sinai’s Medical Center and the establishment of the Burns & Allen Research Institute. “George Burns is a man for 400 seasons, a performer beyond all categories — truly a legend in his own time and a half — who did not become wise because he got old, but got old because he was wise,” said Gelbart. A camera taped the evening for later viewing at home by Burns, who was unable to attend. Gelbart added to George, “Your accomplishments and legacy are totally secure.” Ann-Margret surprised the group of 260 by singing a parodied “Mr. Wonderful” to George, then Ann and her mom Anna duetted on a Swedish tune, “Fodelse Dags,” whose lyrics include, “We hope you live for 100 years.” In all the years they’ve been singing this song to people, no one has ever been 100 before! Ann-M. will be seen as never before in the highly dramatic “Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story” on NBC Feb. 25-26 … Tony Martin, in great voice, sang, as a tribute to Burns, “This Is All I Ask.” Martin said, “I worked for you (George) when you were 45 — and I was only 3! You taught me how to sing.” Mayor Richard Riordan was on hand to offer his congrats to Burns and to Cedars-Sinai. The hospital’s accomplishments and future plans for research in AIDS, cancer, cardiac disease, diabetes, women’s health technology, managed care , etc., were described to the group. Barry Mirkin chaired the evening.

NO ONE IS MORE DESERVING of an honorary Oscar than Kirk Douglas. He should also receive the Hersholt Award simultaneously for his (and wife Anne’s) humanitarian contributions. Kirk was very moved by the accolade for his 50 years of work, and told me: “I always think of myself as a young guy trying to make a go of things. But I am delighted.” He received phone calls from his four sons from around the world; Oscar-winning Michael (“Wall Street,” 1987) is soon departing South Africa and “The Ghost and the Darkness.” The duo are planning to co-star in “A Song for David” this year. Kirk got his Oscar call from Acad prez Arthur Hiller, who directed his first film –“The Careless Years” in 1957 with Natalie Trundy and Dean Stockwell — for Douglas’ Bryna banner. “And afterwards, Kirk always kidded me,” said Hiller, “reminding I had never cast him in any movie of mine!”… John Frankenheimer is equally pleased as he starts receiving applause from both the Museum of TV & Radio and Museum of Modern Art in N.Y. — he’s the first to get dual retros for his small- and large-screen films. It all starts tonight, events shifting between both museums for respective TV and theatrical movies through Feb. 6. Frankenheimer’s latest work, “Andersonville,” airs on TNT March 3-4 and will preem Feb. 29 at both museums for his retro. Frankenheimer’s most recent pic, “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” starring Marlon Brando, is for New Line — which gave him a guaranteed second pic as part of his “Moreau” deal. I asked Frankenheimer his career favorite TV and theatrical movies: “The Comedian” starring Mickey Rooney in a 1957 “Playhouse 90,” and “The Manchurian Candidate,” 1962 … Helen Gurley Brown, departing Cosmopolitan (in 18 months), reminds me, “I’ve been working since I was 17, answering fan mail at KHJ! I wouldn’t know what to do without going to an office.” Now working on 29 editions of Cosmo, Brown tells me she plans to expand ’em further and will probably remain with the Hearst organization –“forever,” adds husband David Brown. He’s in London with “The Saint” director Philip Noyce. The casting has reached “a very delicate” stage, he says. And he still hopes to start March 12 in Moscow. “I haven’t been flying to Moscow four times just to flap my wings,” says Brown.

THE BALD FACTS: Bruce Willis, who is clean-pated in “12 Monkeys,” may soon have company as wife Demi Moore may go locks-less (onscreen) as a Navy SEAL, In Style mag sez in its February issue. Their national correspondent David Hutchings also sez Moore told him 7-year-old daughter Rumer asked if she can shave her head too … Faye Resnick read her own “Nicole Brown Simpson: Diary of a Life Interrupted” for Dove Audio, but it will be Meredith MacRae reading Resnick’s second book, “Shattered.” It’s MacRae’s eighth reading for the label … Marcia Israel and James Curley, who played the President in “In the Line of Fire,” were married Dec. 28 in Las Vegas. When not presiding in front of the cameras, Curley’s director of the English as a second language program at Pepperdine U.

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