George Burns

Born without his trademark cigar in hand on Jan. 20, 1896, in New York City, Nathan Birnbaum became George Burns on the vaudeville circuit before finding his niche -- and lifelong partner -- with comedienne Gracie Allen.

After making their feature film debut in The Big Broadcast (1932), the pair went on to star in their own television series, "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show," until Allen's retirement in 1958. In the wake of her death, Burns grieved but forged ahead, staging a remarkable film comeback in his twilight years with The Sunshine Boys (for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), Oh, God! (1977), Going in Style (1979), Oh, God! Book II (1980), Oh, God! You Devil (1984), 18 Again! (1988) and Radioland Murders (1994).

He died in his sleep of natural causes on March 9, 1996, just seven weeks after his 100th birthday.