David Burns (actor)

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

David Burns
David Burns and Carol Channing in
Hello, Dolly! on Broadway (1964)
Born(1902-06-22)June 22, 1902
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 12, 1971(1971-03-12) (aged 68)
Years active1918–1971
Spouse(s)Mildred Todd

Life and career

Burns was born on Mott Street in Chinatown, Manhattan, the son of Harry and Dora Burns of Brooklyn.[3]

He made his Broadway debut in 1921 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]

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

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

  • Oderman, Stuart, Talking to the Piano Player 2. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 1-59393-320-7.


  1. Sandra Brennan. "David Burns - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  2. "David Burns". BFI.
  3. "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. "David Burns Broadway" Playbill.com; 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 2016-08-31. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  9. The Broadway League. "Hello, Dolly! - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information".
  10. Hello, Dolly! Playbill.com; retrieved October 12, 2017.
  11. "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
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