Sunday, 22 July 2012

What to do with Adolf

Radio programmes, like the rest of the entertainment world, became involved in the war effort during the ’40s. Shows went on location to military bases, war references popped up in the dialogue, Jack Benny even gave up some of his time for a five-minute plug for the U.S.O.

World War Two was pretty black-and-white in everyone’s mind. Hitler and Mussolini were Evil, pure and simple. And I imagine just about everyone in the Allied countries had their personal opinion about what should be done with the pair when our boys marched victorious into Berlin and Rome. Certainly radio stars did.

The National Enterprise Association’s Hollywood columnist put the question to them; no doubt it was one of several questions where the answers could be banked and cobbled together for a subject story during fallow periods of news, like during the Christmas holidays. This one ran in 1943. As you’ll see, some stars treated the question seriously, others cracked jokes. I suspect all of them had answers that would be too blistering for print.

While fans of old radio shows will recognise the stars, though Alan Reed’s name is butchered, the person mentioned at the start of the story may be unfamiliar. Marshal Badoglio conquered Ethiopia for Mussolini in 1936 but soured on Fascism and replaced Il Duce as Prime Minister in 1943, then signed Italy’s unconditional surrender. He died in 1956. His obit warranted only two lines in the U.S. military paper Pacific Stars and Stripes. The war was behind everyone by then.

Hollywood On The Loose...
NEA Staff Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 18.—Marshall Pietro Badoglio has an idea on what ought to be done with Hitler and Mussolini after the war. He thinks the Allies should put them both in a cage and exhibit them throughout Europe.
Famous stage and screen comedians have some ideas, too:
George Jessel: “When everything else is done to Hitler and Mussolini that everybody thinks they deserve, I suggest they be put in a small theater, chain them to their seats and have me sing 200 choruses of ‘My Mother’s Eyes’ in a key much too high for me and I should have a cold yet besides.”
* * *
Jack Oakie: “Turn ‘em loose on the field between innings of a Brooklyn-St. Louis baseball game. Instead of pop bottles, supply the Brooklyn fans with hand grenades.”
* * *

NBC’s Fibber McGee and Molly: “Mussolini should be chained on a balcony overlooking a cemetery with nothing for company except copies of his speeches. Hitler should be chained under a loudspeaker playing over and over a Lou Holtz record of ‘Mein Kampf’ in Jewish dialect.”
* * *
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello: “Put Hitler in the Abbott and Costello torture chamber — a room with walls lined with copies of ‘Mein Kampf.’ At intervals, levels behind the books would shoot them out at him. Feed him only leaves from the books.”
* * *
Edgar Bergen: “Hitler and Mussolini should be given parachutes and taken up in an airplane. Hitler should be dropped off over Warsaw and Mussolini over Addis Ababa. Both gentlemen should have free choice as to whether they wanted to open the parachute.”
* * *
Harvey Fischman, 13-year-old Quiz Kid: “I suggest that they be catapulted from a cruiser. But before that I’d like to shave off Hitler’s mustache on a moving train.”
* * *
Bob Hope: “Make ‘em run around a race track for the rest of their lives under Bing Crosby’s colors. They’re taking a beating now but nothing compared to what would happen to ‘em if they ran under Bing’s colors.
* * *
Fred Allen: “Make ‘em listen to Jack Benny’s radio show for the rest of their lives.”
Jack Benny: “I would lock ‘em both in a projection room and make them look at Fred Allen’s movies for 12 hours a day. No—that would be inhuman. Only 11 hours a day.”
* * *
Bob Burns: “Let me serenade ‘em with my bazooka and then eliminate ‘em with a bazooka gun.”
* * *
Cecil Kellaway: “Exhibit ‘em in a cage. Then, at night, give ‘em benzedrine and continuously play a recording of ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama.’”

* * *
Allen Reid [sic], rhyming Falstaff of Fred Allen’s radio show:
“Fetter the international crooks,
“So they cannot get away.
“Then make ‘em listen
“To Baby Snooks from dusk till
break of day.”

No comments:

Post a Comment