Famous Arkansan: Bob Burns

Several well-known people have roots in Arkansas. The list runs the gamut from Johnny Cash to Jermain Taylor. Check here every Monday as we highlight a new Famous Arkansan each week. Today, Meet Bob Burns.


Bob Burns was born and originally
named Robin Burn in Greenwood. Burns (1890-1956) was raised in Van Buren. At
age 15, the  entertainer made a homemade
musical instrument he invented called a “bazooka” ( from “bazoo”
meaning a windy fello) and started a comical career that took him to New York
nightclubs during the 1920s.  In
fact, the instrument was so well known, WWII combat soildiers nicknamed the
Army’s new shoulder-held rocket launcher the “bazooka” because of its blunderbuss
appearance, just like Burns’ instrument.
After vaudeville declined in the early
1930s, Burns landed a spot on Bing Crosby’s radio show on NBC. Soon the comedic
musician had his own national radio show and was also landing roles in movies.
As in WWI Burns worked in USO shows during WWII. He retired from show business
in 1947 and spent his remaining years on a 500-acre farm in California. He is a
member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame.

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