The Surprise Party
gracie allen george burns

In 1940, comedienne Gracie Allen made a fake run for president but enjoyed very real success with the public.

Harold Clements/Getty Images

Perhaps the strangest thing about the 1940 Surprise Party was its almost instant success. Long before comedian Stephen Colbert would launch his faux run for president, comic Gracie Allen announced her intention to become America's first female president on her radio show "The Burns and Allen Show," which she co-hosted with George Burns. The bit was merely a gimmick to drum up press for the comedy duo, but listeners took her announcement seriously and were overwhelmingly supportive of Allen's Surprise Party ticket. In response, Allen embarked on a railroad tour from Los Angeles to Omaha, delivering stump speeches to impressive crowds along the way [source: NPR]. Even after she bowed out of the race, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt easily won his third term, Allen still received thousands of write-in votes.