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The meaning and origin of the expression: Say goodnight Gracie

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Say goodnight Gracie

Meaning

This was coined as the sign-off at the end of George Burns' shows with his wife Gracie Allen in 1958.

Origin

say goodnight, gracieBurns ended the shows with '"Say goodnight, Gracie' and Allen replied 'Goodnight'. The popular legend that she replied with 'Goodnight, Gracie' isn't correct. This imagined reply may be influenced by the fact that it is a rather obvious comic reply which could well have been used and by the similar ending to Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, which ended with 'Say goodnight, Dick' followed by 'Goodnight, Dick'. The sign-off also may have motivated the British comedians Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett to end their The Two Ronnies shows with:

Corbett] 'It's goodnight from me'
[Barker] 'And it's goodnight from him'.

Corbett has since explained that Barker chose that reply as he didn't like to speak directly to the audience and preferred at all times to speak only in character, never as himself.

'Say goodnight, Gracie' has later been used as a jokey remark, spoken as if by George Burns, after some utterance that might have been said by the scatterbrain character that Gracie Allen adopted for the Burns and Allen shows; for example, this old joke from a report on contraception which appeared in the Ohio newspaper The Chronicle Telegram in February, 1991:

"So, what method is 100 percent safe?" you ask.
As the timeworn joke goes: "Eat an apple."
"Before or after?" you ask. "INSTEAD, silly!"
Say goodnight, Gracie.