The way George Burns sees it, it's a good thing his open heart surgery 12 years ago at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was a success. Having lived through it, Burns is now serving as honorary chairman of a fund drive that seeks to raise $90 million this year for the hospital.
"It's a good thing they kept me alive," Burns quipped.
So far, the affair has traded extensively on the name of the 90-year-old comedian whose product promotions have become nearly as ubiquitous as his humor. Burns even appears on billboards touting World Airways, which, because financial pressures forced it to suspend all scheduled passenger service, only charter customers can fly on.
Burns's foray into raising money for a hospital so far seems to be going a little better. Cedars says it has already collected a third of its goal. In the process, it has engineered the renaming of a street near the medical center for Burns and stamped his likeness on a variety of promotional activities that will culminate with a posh fund-raising dinner early next year.
"I'm doing this because I'm 90 years old and they figured they needed $90 million," Burns said.
"When they have this big dinner in January, I'll be 91 (so I guess) they'll have to add another million every time I have a birthday.