Abe Burrows (December 18, 1910 – May 17, 1985) was a Tony and Pulitzer-winning American humorist, author, and director for radio and the stage.
Born Abram Solman Borowitz in New York City, Burrows graduated from New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn and later attended both City College and New York University. He began working as a runner on Wall Street while at NYU, and he also worked in an accounting firm. After he met Frank Galen in 1938, the two wrote and sold jokes to an impressionist who appeared on the Rudy Vallée radio program.
His radio career gained strength when he collaborated with Ed Gardner, the writer and star of radio legend Duffy's Tavern. The two created the successful series after Gardner's character, Archie, premiered on the earlier radio program, This Is New York. Burrows was made the show's head writer in 1941, and he credited the experience with investing the Runyonesque street characters he fashioned for Guys and Dolls. "The people on that show," Burrows once said about Duffy's Tavern, "were New York mugs, nice mugs, sweet mugs, and like (Damon) Runyon's mugs they all talked like ladies and gentlemen. That's how we treated the characters in Guys and Dolls." Burrows also wrote for Danny Kaye's short-lived mid-1940s radio comedy show, helping head writer Goodman Ace fashion material for Kaye and co-stars Eve Arden and Lionel Stander. He quit Duffy's Tavern in 1945 to work at Paramount Pictures but soon returned to radio. As a guest on Here's Morgan in 1947, Burrows performed "I'll Bet You're Sorry Now, Tokyo Rose, Sorry for What You Done."
Meanwhile, he became a popular guest on the Hollywood party circuit, performing his own satirical songs ("Darling Why Shouldn't You Look Well Fed, ‘ Cause You Ate Up a Hunka My Heart?" and "The Girl with the Three Blue Eyes"). Such informal performances led to a nightclub act and regular appearances as a performer on CBS radio programs, eventually hosting his own radio program, The Abe Burrows Show (CBS) in 1948, a 15-minute weekly comedy Burrows wrote and directed as well. As he recalled years later, his show came about while he was scripting a radio show for Joan Davis when George Jessel asked him, "When the hell are you gonna become a professional?" Burrows continued as Davis' head writer while doing his own show.
Mixing comic patter ("I guess I could tell you exactly what I look like, but I think that's a lousy thing to say about a guy") with his clever comic songs, The Abe Burrows Show was popular with listeners and critics but not with its sponsor, Lambert Pharmaceutical, then the makers of Listerine mouthwash but promoting a Listerine toothpaste on the show. Lambert, according to Burrows, complained that the show wasn't selling much of the toothpaste. "It seems that my fans were being naughty," he wrote. "While they were laughing at my jokes, they were sneering at my toothpaste."