David Burns
Burns in 1967
Born(1902-06-22)June 22, 1902
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 12, 1971(1971-03-12) (aged 68)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Years active1918–1971
SpouseMildred Todd

David Burns (June 22, 1902 – March 12, 1971) was an American Broadway theatre and motion picture actor and singer.[1][2]

Life and career

Burns was born on Mott Street in Chinatown, Manhattan.[3] He made his Broadway debut in 1923 in Polly Preferred and went to London with the show in 1924.[4] His first musical was Face the Music in 1932,[5] and Cole Porter's Nymph Errant (1933) was his London debut.[6] He appeared in many comedies and musicals over an almost 50-year career.[7]

He won two Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, for his performances as "Mayor Shinn" in The Music Man (1958) and as "Senex" in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963).[8][7]

David Burns and Ginger Rogers in
Hello, Dolly! on Broadway (1964)

Burns introduced the hit song "It Takes a Woman" from Hello, Dolly (1964) as the original "Horace Vandergelder".[9][10]

Burns won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor – Drama Series for his role of Mr. Solomon in the 1971 TV special (Hallmark Hall of Fame) The Price by Arthur Miller.[11]


Burns died on stage on March 12, 1971, of a heart attack in Philadelphia during the out-of-town tryout of Kander and Ebb's musical 70, Girls, 70.[3]

Selected credits


Year Title Role Notes
1923 Polly Preferred Mr. B
1931 Wonder Boy Harry Rich
1932 Face the Music Louis Credited as "Dave Burns"
1935 Them's the Reporters Cassady Credited as "Dave Burns"
1939–1941 The Man Who Came to Dinner Banjo
1940–1941 Pal Joey Ludlow Lowell
1943 Oklahoma! Ali Hakim
1943 My Dear Public Walters
1945-1946 Billion Dollar Baby Dapper Welch
1947 I Gotta Get Out Bernie
1948-1949 Make Mine Manhattan Nick/"The Good Old Days" Performer/Taxi Driver/ Mr. Rappaport/Customer
1948 Heaven On Earth H.H. Hutton
1950 Alive and Kicking Dr. Frisbee/Dr. Allen Drawbridge/Army
1950-1951 Cole Porter's Out of This World Niki Skolianos
1952-1953 Two's Company Stanley/Strombolini/Melvin/Dudley Dawson
1953 Men of Distinction Daniel Gaffney
1955 Catch a Star! Max Dillingbert
1957 A Hole in the Head Max
1957-1961 The Music Man Mayor George Shinn
1960–1962 Do Re Mi Brains Berman
1962-1964 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Senex
1964 Hello, Dolly! Horace Vandergelder
1968–1969 The Price Gregory Solomon
1970 Art Buchwald's Sheep on the Runway Ambassador Raymond Wilkins [12]
1970–1971 Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen Colonel Wainwright Purdy III


Year Title Role Notes[13]
1918 De Luxe Annie Joe/Grocery Clerk
1934 The Queen's Affair Manager
1934 The Path of Glory Ginsberg
1934 Romance in Rhythm Mollari
1935 Rendezvous German-Speaking Bellhop uncredited
1936 The Great Ziegfeld Clarence uncredited
1936 Crime Over London Sniffy
1936 Strangers on Honeymoon Lennie
1937 Spring Handicap Amos
1937 Smash and Grab Bellini
1937 The Live Wire Snakey
1938 Just like a Woman Pedro
1938 The Return of Carol Deane Nick Wellington
1938 Sidewalks of London Hackett
1938 Hey! Hey! USA Tony Ricardo
1938 The Sky's the Limit 'Ballyhoo' Bangs
1939 The Gang's All Here Beretti
1939 So This Is London Drunk uncredited
1939 A Girl Must Live Joe Gold
1939 I Killed the Count Diamond
1939 A Gentleman's Gentleman Alfred
1939 The Saint in London Dugan
1939 She Couldn't Say No Chester
1951 Fourteen Hours Cab Driver uncredited
1954 Deep in My Heart Lazar Berrison, Sr.
1955 It's Always Fair Weather Tim
1957 Four Boys and a Gun Television man
1958 Once Upon a Horse... Bruno de Gruen
1960 Let's Make Love Oliver Burton
1967 The Tiger Makes Out Mr. Ratner
1969 How to Commit Marriage
1970 Move Doorman
1971 Who Is Harry Kellerman Leon Soloway


Year Title Role Notes
1955 The Imogene Coca Show Regular

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1958 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical The Music Man[7] Won
1963 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum[7] Won
1966 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series The Trials of O'Brien[11] Nominated
1971 Hallmark Hall of Fame Won
Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen[7] Nominated

Further reading


  1. ^ Sandra Brennan. "David Burns – Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos – AllMovie". AllMovie.
  2. ^ "David Burns". BFI. Archived from the original on August 6, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "David Burns, 69, Star In Musicals" The New York Times, March 13, 1971.
  4. ^ The Broadway League. "David Burns – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information".
  5. ^ Face the Music ibdb.com. Retrieved October 12, 2017
  6. ^ Nymph Errant sondheimguide.com. Retrieved October 12, 2017
  7. ^ a b c d e "David Burns Broadway" Playbill. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  8. ^ "Search Past Tony Award Winners and Nominees – TonyAwards.com – The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards – Official Website by IBM". TonyAwards.com. Archived from the original on August 31, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  9. ^ The Broadway League. "Hello, Dolly! – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information".
  10. ^ Hello, Dolly! Playbill. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "David Burns Emmy" emmys.com. Retrieved October 14, 2017
  12. ^ Barnes, Clive. "Theater: Art Buchwald's 'Sheep on the Runway' " The New York Times, February 2, 1970
  13. ^ "David Burns Films" tcm.com. Retrieved October 12, 2017