George Burns is part of my Jewish roots. George Burns was born Nathan Birnbaum on January 20, 1896 in New York City, the ninth of 12 children born to Hadassah “Dorah” (née Bluth; 1857–1927) and Eliezer Birnbaum (1855–1903), known as Louis or Lippe, Jewish immigrants who had arrived at the United States from Kolbuszowa, Galicia, now Poland. Burns was a participant in the First Roumanian-American Congregation.
His father has been a substitute cantor at the local synagogue but usually worked as a coat presser. During the influenza epidemic of 1903, Lippe Birnbaum contracted the flu and died at the age of 47. Nattie (as George was then called) walked to work to help support the family, shining shoes, running errands and selling newspapers.
When he landed a position being a syrup maker in a local candy shop at age seven, “Nate” while he was known, was “discovered.”
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