Sunday, 19 April 2015

Read-io With Jack Benny

The following is self-explanatory. It comes from the pages of the Radio Mirror of September 1938 (which went on sale toward the end of July). The magazine’s staff has stitched together dialogue from the 1937-38 season of the Jack Benny radio show to make a new “broadcast.” Coincidentally, a number of years later, Benny’s own staff would re-work old shows—sometimes with the dialogue from previous writers lifted verbatim—and turn them into new ones. The Mirror concocted the same thing for the Benny show twice in 1937; you can read the posts on the blog in February and March.

The second part of this “script” uses material from February 20 and 27, 1938 when the show broadcast a spoof entitled “Submarine D 1½.” Not all the dialogue was incorporated into this phoney broadcast; there was a whole scene with Schlepperman that’s not here. The dialogue from the show of the 27th begins when Don Wilson talks about the sub slowing down. On the actual broadcast, the phone caller is played by Blanche Stewart and the diver is Harry Baldwin, Jack’s personal secretary who spent several seasons on the air each week knocking on a door and interrupting the dialogue.

The part about Phil catching a blonde and Mary reading a French poem is taken from the season opener show of October 3, 1937.

We can only presume the folks at the Mirror were given the scripts. Most of them still survive today; Benny had copies bound at kept them in his home.

This would have been a treat for fans. There was no such thing as reruns back then. If someone missed a broadcast or wanted to hear it again, they were out of luck. This was likely an acceptable substitute. The photos accompanied the article; Phil Harris and Eddie Anderson apparently didn’t rate one.

You don’t have to stop laughing just because you can’t hear your favorite comedian’s jokes. You can read ‘em!

BECAUSE the only thing wrong with summer, for several million people, is that you can't hear Jack Benny then, Radio Mirror this year repeats a custom which it inaugurated in 1937 and prints a special Benny “vacation” Readio-Broadcast.
You can't listen to Jack, Mary, Don Wilson, Kenny Baker, Phil Harris and Andy Devine on the air — but read this and you'll find that you're hearing them in your “mind's ear.” Thanks are due to Jack and his sponsors, the makers of Jell-O, who gave Radio Mirror permission to recreate this special broadcast from material which Jack put on the air during the last season.
It's Sunday evening — a hot, midsummer Sunday evening. And though the Jell-O troupe is officially on a vacation, here they are, nevertheless:

DON WILSON: Now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man with a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his face, and a toupee on his head . . . Jack Benny! JACK: Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny talking. And thanks very much, Don, for that introduction — although you shouldn't mention my accessories. By the way, is my toupee on straight?
DON: Why, yes — what makes you ask?
JACK: Well, one ear seems to be warmer than the other.
DON: It looks all right to me.
JACK: Now, Don, you know I don't wear a toupee.
DON: Of course not, Jack, I just wanted to let people know that you need one.
JACK: Oh well, then — I forgive you. . . . I tell you, Don, it's fun to be here for this vacation broadcast — I didn't know how much I'd miss all the gang. DON: Me too, Jack.
JACK: I was going to spend the summer in Honolulu, but I got too lonesome. Where did you go, Phil?
PHIL HARRIS: Oh, I went down to Texas on a little fishing trip.
JACK: Fishing, eh? Have any luck?
PHIL: Swell — I caught a hundred-and-ten-pound blonde in Galveston.
JACK: Well! Those are rare too, aren't they?
PHIL: Yeah. But her father was the game warden so I had to throw her back.
JACK: That's too bad.
PHIL: So you didn't like Honolulu, Jack?
JACK: Naw. I went with my uncle. He's a swell fellow but he drinks a lot.
PHIL: Well, at least you had company — somebody to talk to, I mean.
JACK: Oh, sure — if you can understand hiccoughs.
PHIL: Where's Mary? I hear she ran over to Paris for a few days.
JACK: Yes — she just got back yesterday — and here she is now.
MARY: (And what a French accent!) Bon jure, messeers, ka-mon tally-voo say-swar?
JACK: Hello, Mary!
MARY: Marie to you guys.
JACK: Cut it out, Mary, you're home now.
MARY: Yes, and I've brought every one of you a present — from Paris.
PHIL: You did?
DON: What is it, Mary?
MARY: Perfume.
JACK: (In disgust) Perfume!
PHIL: Just what we needed.
JACK: Speak for yourself, Harris.
MARY: Come here, Don — here's your bottle. It's called "A Kiss in the Dark."
DON: Thanks, Mary.
MARY: And here's yours, Phil — it's called "Love's Gardenia."
PHIL: Well!
JACK: Mm, quite romantic. What's mine, Mary?
MARY: "Dracula's Dream."
JACK: That's a fine name for a perfume.
MARY: It also kills ants. . . . And I've brought back a present for our audience too.
JACK: Fine! What is it?
MARY: A poem — and I'm going to read it now. Ahem!
I've just returned from dear old Paris,
Where life is gay and there no care is.
Some call it Paris, some Paree —
Now which is right, I'm up a tree.
With your good old Eiffel Tower,
Where friends you meet and say bon jower,
And people poor and people rich
Ride across your London Britch —
JACK: Mary! London Bridge is in London!
MARY: Well, I was there too.
MARY: I adore you, Paris, France,
Where girls buy hats and men buy pants.
And taxicabs they have a rattle —
The drivers look but do not tattle.
Your onion soup is so delish,
It puts you in a swell condish.
And the whole world shouts hurrah
For your patty fooey grah.
JACK: It's pate de foie gras, Mary,
MARY: It's fooey — I didn't like it.
Your waiters with their fine behavyurs
Serve the six delicious flavyurs —
Ze strawberry, ze raspberry, ze cherry, orange, too,
Ze lemon and ze lime, and ze keskay voo-le-voo!
Jack: Hey, Harris!
PHIL: What?
JACK: See-voo-play, Phil!
(And Phil does, just in the nick of time to drown out Mary as she starts on the second verse — which is much verse.)
JACK: That was "Love Walked In," played by Phil Harris and his orchestra. And, Phil, it really sounded swell.
PHIL: You think that's something? Wait until we learn it!
KENNY BAKER: Hello, folks.
JACK: Oh, hello, Kenny — did you just get here?
KENNY: Yeah. I'm sorry I'm a little late, but I was over in the next studio talking to Charlie McCarthy.
JACK: Oh, was Edgar Bergen there too?
KENNY: No, just Charlie and me. . . . And he's dumb.
JACK: Well, he's supposed to be— he's a dummy.
KENNY: Oh, say, Jack, if you think I'm bad, Edgar Bergen came over later and boy — is he all mixed up!
JACK: Why, what happened?
KENNY: He asked Charlie to sing, and put me in a suitcase.
JACK: Can you imagine that, Mary? Edgar Bergen thought Kenny was Charlie McCarthy. If he can't tell 'em apart, who can?
KENNY: Gee, I don't know. Say, Jack, did you drive down in that old Maxwell of yours?
JACK: I certainly did. And I didn't have any trouble at all. Did I, Mary?
MARY: Not with me, you didn't.
JACK: I'm talking about the car.
MARY: What about that flat tire you had?
JACK: Flat tire? Say, you could hardly feel it. Anyway, my tires are awfully thin.
DON: A puncture, eh? How did it happen?
MARY: Jack ran over a marshmallow.
JACK: Well, no wonder — it was toasted. You forgot to mention that. And of course you'd never mention what swell time we made. I even got a ticket for speeding.
MARY: Yeah, right next to a fire plug. (She giggles.) Jack, shall I tell ‘em what else happened?
JACK: Oh, not now, Mary — we've got a show to do.
KENNY: Come on, Mary — tell us about it.
MARY: Well—
JACK: Mary!
MARY: Oh, what's the difference? We were driving along Wilshire Boulevard, and there was a great big truck right in front of us —
JACK (in anguish): Mary!
MARY: And all of a sudden the truck backfired.
DON: And what happened?
MARY: Jack's motor dropped out.
JACK: Well, that could happen to anyone. Anyway, there's one thing about my car — it never backfires.
PHIL: It wouldn't dare to.
MARY: And how about that bicycle that passed us?
PHIL: No kidding, Jack, did a bicycle really pass you?
JACK: Well, what of it? It was a brand-new 1938 model.
MARY: Boy, was Jack mad!
JACK: I wasn't mad when he passed me. What burned me up was when he started doing those figure eights around my car. He was a regular Sonja Henie on wheels. (The phone rings.)
MARY: Hello.
ANDY DEVINE (on the phone): Hello, Mary. Can I speak to Buck?
MARY: Sure, Andy. Here, Jack; it's the Voice of Experience.
JACK: Oh, Andy! What's the matter — why aren't you down here?
ANDY: Well, you see, Buck, I got a cold.
JACK: That's too bad. Haven't you done anything for it?
ANDY: Well, Maw put a mustard plaster on my chest, an icebag on my head and a hot-water bottle on my back. Now I look like a one-man band.
JACK: Glad you're taking care of yourself, Andy? Say, where are you — in bed?
ANDY: No, I'm talking to you from the barn.
JACK: The barn? How come there's a telephone in the barn?
ANDY: My bull's got a girl friend in Pomona.
JACK: Oh! Well, Andy, I don't think you ought to be in the barn with a cold. Haven't you a nurse?
ANDY: Yes, sir! And you oughtta see her, Buck. She's a humdinger.
JACK: Oh, yeah? Where is she?
ANDY: In the house with Paw.
JACK: She is, eh? Where's your Maw?
ANDY: She's out on the sidewalk, picketin'.
JACK: That cold of yours certainly has complications. I wish you were here, Andy. We're going to do our version of that thrilling Warner Brothers movie, Submarine D-1, and I had a big part all picked out for you.
ANDY: Aw, gee, Buck, can't I do it over the phone?
JACK: Come to think of it, I guess you could. Just hang on and come in when you're needed. Okay, men, let's get started. I'll play the part of Butch O'Benny, Chief Petty Officer, as portrayed by Pat O'Brien of the screen — as tough a sailor as ever choked on a seasick pill. . . . The members of my crew will be Sock Harris, Slim Wilson, and Lucky Baker.
MARY: Am I going to be in this?
JACK: Yes, Mary. Your name is Slug Livingstone. You'll have to be a sailor too.
MARY: Okay, but I'm going to put a screen around my hammock.
JACK: And Rochester will be the cook.
ROCHESTER (suspiciously): Cook for what?
JACK: For our submarine.
ROCHESTER: Is that one of them boats that dunks?
JACK: Yes, it travels far beneath the surface of the ocean.
ROCHESTER: I ain't gonna be on it.
JACK: Now, Rochester, I promised you ten dollars — don't you want to make ten dollars?
ROCHESTER: Not if I have to send a whale to the bank with it.
JACK: Now look, Rochester, it's nothing to worry about. It's only going to last five minutes.
ROCHESTER: I can drown in three.
JACK: Well, it's only a play, so go over in the corner and put on your uniform. . . . Oh, and Andy — I almost forgot. I want you to be the steam whistle. Okay?
ANDY: Sure, I'll take it. I ain't proud.

JACK: And now, folks, for our epic of the sea — Submarine D and One-half. We pick up the submarine off the coast of Panama, cruising forty feet below the surface on its way to San Diego.
PHIL: Hey, Popeye. . . .
JACK: Popeye? Listen, Harris, that's an insult to your superior officer. Step forward and salute.
PHIL: Oh, all right.
PHIL: I'm saluting you.
JACK: Well, unless your nose itches, you're insulting me again. . . . Well, speak up, what's the trouble?
PHIL: Something seems to be wrong. We're slowing down.
JACK: Darn those sharks! They're hitching rides again. . . . Shoo! Shoo! Scat!
MARY: Oh, why don't you let them have a little fun?
JACK: I don't mind them bumming a ride, but I don't want them biting their initials in the rudder. Hey, Rochester, is supper ready?
ROCHESTER: All but the apple pie.
JACK: The apple pie? Where is that?
ROCHESTER: I put it out the window to cool.
JACK: Oh. . . . Well, never mind; we'll be in Panama soon.
DON: Hey Chief, we're slowing down again.
JACK: Now what?
MARY: Slowing down nothing — we've stopped.
JACK: Hey, Harris, what did you stop the boat for?
PHIL: There's a red light against us.
JACK: Red light! Go right through.
PHIL: All right, but pinched, it's your fault.
JACK: Hm, some navigator. . . . Hey, Slug! Where are you going with those curtains?
MARY: I'm gonna hang ‘em over my window. There's been a halibut peeking in all week.
JACK: A halibut peeking in — that's nothing to get upset about.
MARY: Oh, no? Last night he winked at me.
JACK: Aw, you're imagining things.
MARY: I am, eh? Then who sent me those gardenias?
JACK: Now get back to the periscope and keep your eyes open. I don't want any accidents.
DON: Oh, Chief, we just received a radiogram from Admiral McKenzie:
JACK: A radiogram? What does it say, Wilson?
DON: Use extreme caution when entering Panama Canal. The canal is filled with battleships, cruisers and destroyers.
JACK: What, no water? Well, men, we'll have to take a chance. Are you with me?
THE CREW: Aye, aye, Sir.
MARY: Hey, Chief, Chief! There’s a battleship directly ahead and it’s bearing down on us. We’ll be hit for sure.
ROCHESTER: Dawggone, where did I put that rabbit's foot?
JACK: I'll handle this — we've to warn them. Hey, Slug, pull steam whistle.
MARY: Aye, aye, Sir.
ANDY: Whoo whoo!
JACK: Hm, they don't hear us. Pull the whistle again — louder.
MARY: Aye, aye, Sir.
ANDY: Whoo, whoo, and I do mean WHOO!
JACK: They still don't hear us. What are we gonna do?
MARY: You better think fast, Chief.
JACK: I got it — empty main ballast tank! (We hear three bells.) Reverse rear engines! (We hear the three bells again.) Who keeps ringing those bells?
MARY: Jimmie Fidler.
JACK: Hm, six bells — we can't be that good. . . . Harris, I gave you a command to stop. Are you reversing rear engines?
PHIL: I don't know how.
JACK: Then what'll we do?
PHIL: Hold your hats; we're gonna crash.
(There is a terrific noise, splintering, clashing of chains, tearing of metal.)
Jack: Now keep cool, men, I'll handle everything.
DON: But, Chief, we're sinking fast.
JACK: I know we are. What does the gauge say, Rochester?
ROCHESTER (like an elevator operator): Two hundred feet . . . sardines, herring, barracuda and tuna! Goin’ down!
JACK: Look all that salt water pouring in. What'll we do?
KENNY: Let's make some taffy.
ROCHESTER: Three hundred feet. . . . Mackerel, pickerel, whales, sharks and mountain trout! Goin' down!
JACK: The water's getting deeper in here. Hey, Wilson — man the pumps!
DON: We haven't got any.
JACK: Then somebody give me a blotter! (There is a dull thump.)
ROCHESTER: Ground floor. . . . Crabs, oysters, sand, seaweed, and thanks for the memory!
JACK: We've struck bottom! Have courage, men. Are you getting along all right.
PHIL: Now, there's a silly question.
JACK: If we could only make connections with the Naval Base. Gee, the water is up to my waist.
MARY: It's only up to my ankles.
JACK: Where's Kenny?
MARY: I'm standing on him.
JACK: Then who am I standing on?
ROCHESTER: This isn't a hat I'm wearing.
PHIL: Why don't you call the Admiral to send help?
JACK: I can't — the phone is out of order. (But just then it rings.) No, it isn't — that must be the Admiral now. We're saved! (He picks up the receiver.) Hello, hello!
A VOICE: Hello, is this the Orpheum Theater?
JACK: No, this is Submarine D-1.
VOICE: What's the other feature?
JACK: Everybody Sink. (He hangs up.) Hm, I'm so mad I could drown. Well, things look hopeless, men. I'm afraid there's no chance for us. But remember, we're in the Service, so let's die like men.
MARY: Hey, Chief, Chief! Look, there's somebody coming toward us. He's coming through the water.
JACK: Let's see. . . . You're right, and he's in a diving suit.
KENNY: Is it anybody we know?
JACK: Hooray! We're saved, fellows! (There is a heavy knock on the door.) Come in. (The door opens.)
THE DIVER: Mister Benny?
JACK: Yes.
THE DIVER: Have you saved your money all your life?
JACK: Yes, I have.
THE DIVER: Ain't you sorry now? Good-bye. (And the door slams behind him.) JACK: Play, Phil!
(Phil plays, and we know the broadcast is almost over. But wait a minute — here's Jack, back for a final word.)
JACK: Well, folks, that was the last number of the special vacation Jell-O broadcast. And now that our play is over, let's get out of this submarine and go up to the surface.
MARY: You better not do that, Jack.
JACK: Why not?
MARY: The Warner Brothers are waiting for you.
JACK: Oh, well, it's comfortable here. Good night, folks.

1 comment:

  1. Script originally crafted by Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin, with "editorial supervision" by Jack himself.