Sunday, 20 September 2015

His First Car Wasn't a Maxwell

How good was radio to Jack Benny? Just before he debuted on his own show in May 1932 he was making $2,000 a week in vaudeville. After exposure on a national hook-up—where a spring survey by Variety had him in the top ten on radio—his price for stage appearances a year and a half later was $6,500.

For a while in 1933, it didn’t look like Benny would be on the air at all. Canada Dry cancelled his show in January, fed up with creative differences involving the writer it saddled on him. Jack auditioned for two sponsors, one of whom backed out because it felt it couldn’t connect him with its product. But luck appeared in the form of ol’ Jolie.

Al Jolson had signed a deal with Chevrolet to begin a Friday night series on November 18, 1932. It didn’t go well. Finally, Jolson walked out. Chevrolet needed a half-hour show and there was Jack Benny looking to go back on the air. So it was that Benny replaced Jolson, bringing along writer Harry Conn and wife Mary Livingstone. NBC staff announcer Howard Claney came on board as did composer Johnny Green as musical director and radio veteran James Melton as the singer.

The show took a summer hiatus and Benny racked up big coin on the vaudeville circuit in the Midwest. He took a vacation to California but didn’t rest. He did a show at the Paramount in Los Angeles for $4,000. The money was too good to pass up. When the show resumed in the fall, Alois Havrilla was the announcer and Frank Parker the singer. I’ve not been able to find out why the changes were made. Melton had tested for some films and was appearing on stage in New York City, but he was still on the radio on his own show. Claney began a new programme for Gulf Oil in August, starring George M. Cohan. A side-note: both Melton and Parker had sung in a group called The Revellers.

So let’s look at what Weekly Variety had to say about Jack in 1933. One bit of background about Richy Craig, Jr. His father was a burlesque performer, and got into show business with an act with Joe Besser in the late ‘20s. He later went solo. He worked the Palace as a solo three days before he died of TB on November 28 at age 31. Craig and the up-and-coming Bob Hope were great friends, hence Hope staged a benefit for Craig’s widow. Such benefits by co-workers were not uncommon in the days before government social assistance in the ‘30s.

January 3, 1933
CHECKS ON AD LIBBERS NOW WITH STENO NOTES
Ad agencies with comics on their programs have made it a regular procedure of having stenographic reports taken of the patter. Notes serve as an accurate check on any ad libbing that the comedian may indulge in and also to settle any disputes over off-color or other cracks attributed to the line tossers in the show.
Strict rule prevailing on all network commercials is that the patter stick to the lines in the continuity and restrain any impulse to do a little interpolating. But of late, say the agencies, there's been a tendency on the part of comics from the stage once they've become established on a program to ring in an occasional one off the record.
Among the programs on which a stenographic check is maintained is Canada Dry, with the commercial finding it more difficult as time goes on to keep Jack Benny from cutting loose with his faculty for ad libbing. With the Benny show due to fold Jan. 26 the only thing that the account can now do is compare the steno version with the original continuity and trust to Benny's discretion.

Broadway
Christmas party thrown by Burns and Allen and Jack Benny a sort of who's who in radio.

January 10, 1933
CBS Props Benny
Overtures have been made Jack Benny by CBS for the comic to come under direction of the networks' artists' service. Chain has a commercial in mind for Benny to take the place of his Canada Dry connection. Latter program goes off CBS Jan. 26.
Benny propositioning is being done by Ed Klauber, one of the CBS V.p.'s.

January 17, 1933
Benny Prefers Vacation To CBS Offer and Coin
Jack Benny's hookup with the Tydol series on CBS is off. Comic turned down the approach from Columbia both because of the coin and the fact he wants to take a vacation following his foldup with the Canada Dry show.
CBS is working on the Old Gold account also for Benny.

Old Gold Hears Benny, Joe Cook, Waring Band
Old Gold gave Joe Cook the ear in an audition at Columbia last week, and the next day listened to Jack Benny do his stuff.
Among the bands considered by the ciggie account for its return to the airlanes, when and if, is Fred Waring's. Columbia has proposed Freddie Rich.

January 24, 1933
Warings All Set With Old Gold, Benny Maybe
Old Gold executives are still debating about the selection of Jack Benny as m. c. on the ciggie account's half-hour show which is due to start on CBS within the next two weeks. Voting was pretty much in Benny's favor up to the time he put on a second audition for the account last Wednesday (18). Consideration of Joe Cook, another candidate who also auditioned for the spot, had in the meantime been passed up.
Fred Waring's band is definitely set for the program's musical background, with the warblers yet to be picked.

January 31, 1933
Trying for Old Gold
Due here from Hollywood Feb. 1, Old Gold was hot after Jimmie Durante to start off its new CBS series of Wednesday half hours on Feb. 8, with Waring's Pennsylvanians, but Durante will be too occupied with rehearsals for his Broadway musical, 'Strike Me Pink,' to do any radio commercialing.
Jack Benny and Joe Cook are both cold, following auditions, for the O. G. account, which is now flirting with Milton Berle and Harry Richman for the berth.

Advertisers Revert to Theory That Click Talent Is N. G. for a New Program Unless Air Lapse
The bigger the click on one commercial the tougher it's going to be from now on for the same performer to connect on another bankrolled air show. That is, unless he stays off the air long enough for the dialers to disassociate him with his previous sponsor.
Advertisers are again coming around to this point of view declare their agency reps. This theory held strong sway until about 18 months ago. Association of the hit air performer with his product by the fan was too complicated a one for the next advertiser to dally with, according to the consensus of opinion prevailing up to that time. Advertisers at that time expressed a preference for bringing in talent without previous national commercial servitude, thereby avoiding the possibility of running into the mental association snag.
But in due time the networks were able to talk their customers out of this point of view and artists who clicked on one paid program began to move from commercial to commercial. For instance the Boswell Sisters stepped from a chocolate to a cigarette account; the Mills Brothers were no sooner deprived of a lard tag than they were selling a cold remedy and soon after that soap, etc.
Benny As Example
However, things aren't working so favorably that way now, say the advertisers. They're back to the old preference for talent that hasn't been too closely associated with another product. This angle made itself prominent when Old Gold execs were considering Jack Benny for the program which it debuts next week, Feb. 7, on Columbia. Several of that tobacco company's heads argued that although Benny impressed them as okay for the spot, his association with Canada Dry would still be too vivid for the fans to connect him with a cigarette. Had there been an interim of some months between accounts it would have been all right, the Old Gold gang averred. Benny wound up for the ginger ale last Thursday (26).

February 7, 1933
I’m Telling You
By Jack Osterman
The New Show Business
Years ago when we were invited to a theatrical party, people would point with pride to the different producers present: Woods, Harris, Earl Carroll, et al. That is a thing of the past. The other week Burns and Allen and Jack Benny invited us to a biff party they gave at the Warwick. The room was packed. As we entered Jack grabbed our arm and whispered: ‘See that fellow over there, head man with General Foods. The short fellow next to him is chief of Standard Brands and the woman talking to them controls American Tobacco.’

February 21, 1933
Jolson Demands Air Release After 15 Wks.-Afraid of N.Y.-Back to Coast
Indications are that Chevrolet, acting on the advice of its ad agency, Campbell-Ewald, will before the end of the current week agree to release Al Jolson from the remaining six weeks on his air contract.
Action will mean that Jolson's broadcast from New York this Friday (24) will be the last for Jolson for the car maker. Meantime, NBC has submitted a substitute variety program with Jack Benny as m. c. and Frank Black directing a studio combo.
It's been a series of clashes between Jolson and the agency execs on the account for the past several weeks, with the tense state between them reaching a climax at the rehearsal of his last Friday's (17) show when Jolson threatened to walk. Majority of the arguments have been over Jolson's resentment against the agency's interference with his selection of song numbers and gag material.
On several occasions the past two weeks Jolson Informed the agency execs he did not want to stay in the changeable New York's dampness and he was anxious to get out of his radio contract to return to California, where Mrs. Jolson (Ruby Keeler) is now working in a Warner picture. Jolson finally, over the week-end, made his decisive request for a release of his Chevrolet contract for press release to this effect at the same time.
Jolson will have been on the air for about 16 weeks for the auto firm at $5,000 a week (single appearance on Friday night). His first two broadcasts were from San Francisco and Los Angeles. Jolson then came east with his wife and continued his weekly radioing with a visible audience in front of him at the NBC studio in New York.
Jolson wanted to return west with his wife but the advertiser objected saying he didn't come over well from the coast, Jolson quoted the Marx Bros, as coming through from L.A. without trouble but the advertiser wouldn't agree, although Jolson at that time offered to pay his own wire charges on the coast, which might have amounted to $1,500 a week for the remainder of his contract.
Got Flu
When this was declined Jolson left for Miami for a couple of weeks and made his broadcasts from there. Previously when in New York and during the opening of the Radio City Music Hall Jolson had been attacked by flu and was held In his hotel suite with two nurses almost for two weeks. Despite this he did his broadcast weekly, and by special request left his bed to attend the Music Hall opening. During that occasion Miss Keeler noticing her husband's temperature seemed quite high, forced him to leave the theatre and return to his hotel.
Since then Jolson has been occupied with the thought the varying weather in the city where the temperature drops 35 degrees in 24 hours might bring on another attack of the flu. He probably would have quit before but he did not want the impression to spread throughout the show business he had flopped on the air. The advertising agency taking up his option was proof against this in itself and the agency men handling the Chevrolet account, after 15 weeks, declared they have been thoroughly satisfied with the Jolson period.

Tough to Be Funny
That radio's funny men are lucky if they last a year is the opinion of air theorists. Contention is that it's impossible to be funny many weeks in succession. The comedy answer for radio, they argue, is the stability of an Amos 'n' Andy, whose script situations help them. Growth of Easy Aces is likewise mentioned as substantiation of the belief.
The research lads declare it's no wonder the air comedians are going nuts. They can't find enough material week after week.
An incident is cited by a radio man who was driving to California. He stopped off at the general store of a small town in Arizona. Jack Benny was on at the time, gagging with George Olsen, and cracking that Olsen used to be a drummer but lost one of his sticks, and that's how he became a leader.
One of the locals turned to the city feller with a bewildered look and wanted to know what Benny meant. They couldn't savvy that typo of comedy. But the homely appeal of the script act seems to be in their corner, declares the radio exec who was touring.

February 28, 1933
Benny, at $2550, Is Jolson's Successor; 2d Top Radio Salary
Jack Benny at $2,750 a week (six programs) is Al Jolson's successor on the Chevrolet program over NBC. Commences next Friday (3). Jolson, with six more weeks to go on his contract, finished last Friday.
While saving $2,250 a week in talent costs, the difference between Benny's salary and Jolson's $6,000, Benny at $2,760 will still be getting the second highest straight salary in radio, topped only by Ed Wynn's $5,000 from Texaco. Benny must supply the weekly material at no extra recompense. Eddie Cantor gets $2,600 and $760 extra for material.
With the comedian on the G. M. show will be Mrs. Benny (Mary Livingstone). Latter teamed with her husband on the former Canada Dry program. Benny was set in the Jolson spot by Morrison & Winkler.

March 7, 1933
JACK BENNY
New Chevrolet Series

With Edith Evans, James Melton, Mary Livingstone and Frank Black
Comedy, Songs, Band
COMMERCIAL
WEAF, New York
Jack Benny most likely will personally admit that the biggest compliment ever tossed him in his career as an entertainer was Chevrolet's bringing him in to finish out the six weeks on this series left vacant by Al Jolson's departure.
Reaching for Benny was no gamble on the part of the auto maker. His is a name established among the loudspeaker element. But even with this in his favor Chevrolet agreed with the NBC suggestion of surrounding him with some strong musical support. And that's what its got In the Frank Black batoning and the warbling of James Melton and Edith Evans, the latter a newcomer to the airlanes and of the vaude team of Evans and Mayer.
For his debut stanza with this new set of faces, and surroundings less intimate than he has been accustomed to on the air, Benny managed to make it a smooth and interesting performance. Little that was sparkling about his material but the way he eased into this session and took up the thread at the mike where he had dropped it Jan. 26 must have sufficed to, at least, satisfy the listening mob that had made him a habit on his previous Canada Dry connection.
And no escaping that C-D association. It was the same line of banter about the orchestra leader and gang, with the gags reminiscent of similar batches he pulled with the Weems and Olsen units. Outside of this and a few passages with Howard Claney, the announcer, which made Benny's recent vacation in Florida the subject of a mildly diverting tete-a-tete, the comedy portion included an unbilled stooge tagged with an unfunny recital about his exploits as a demon driver and just enough of Mary Livingstone (Mrs. Benny) to serve as an introduction. Otherwise a smartly confected bit of entertainment with Miss Evans the real surprise of the occasion. She contributed but one number but that was enough to set her down as a promising vocal personality for radio. Melton turned in his usual finished performance while Black Injected his stylized punch into the several interludes assigned the studio band. Odec
[Note: the unbilled stooge was Benny Baker].

FRIARS' GIGGLE PARTY TO GREET BEN BERNIE
The Saturday Nite Boys at the Friars are going into action again and will throw a giggle party March 26 with Ben Bernie the guest of honor. The old maestro himself is returning from an extended stay in Chicago to play dates around New York. Jack Benny will be m.c.
Members of the Friars were given the privilege of cashing checks in amounts up to $25 and $30, indicating an improvement in the club's finances since it was recently reorganized. Understood that other clubs were also cashing checks for members, same going for speakeasies, some of which had stacked up coin in anticipation of the bank closings.

March 28, 1933
So Many Eggs Laid, Club Looked Like Hen House on Bernie Nite
At the Friars in the infant hours Sunday morning, the Saturday Nite boys threw a party for Ben Bernie, but Jack Benny and Bobby Clark stole the show. Benny as m.c. was in peak form, while the guest of honor was out of the money as usual. So were the columnists, who ran the wrong way.
The flop speeches provided a change of pace that made the club's dais humorists stand out all the more. Benny with a dead pan said the reason for gathering was to welcome back ‘a great musician’ and ‘if all the jokes that Bernie has sprung were placed end to end they would lay end to end. Bernie is not the maestro's right name. It was taken from the Hebraic meaning, Angelovick, and as Bert Williams used to say: ‘Yowsir.’ Of course Benny is not my right name—my father was a Smith, Yonkel Smith. Ben is a graduate from the College Inn, and Chicago has few people left—Bernie's here, Capone is in Atlanta and Insull is in Greece.’
Walter Winchell alibied a flop, claiming that he had laryngitis and would have to leave the room. When he finished Benny said: ‘The audience now has the dais three down.’ When Sid Skolsky made a crack, the toastmaster quickly added: ‘The score is now four down.’
Bobby Clarke bounced up with: ‘Boys, I'm hot tonight, hotter than Harriman's collar ... To me Ben Bernie is just a Jules Saranoff who got a break . . . You know the club went into the hands of the receiver, but he didn't want it and gave it back . . . The dues have been cut so the members won't owe so much ... I see a lot of boys are back in town, including the Mosconis who are dancing with tears in their eyes and Count Bernivici who discovered oil in his mustache.’
Walter C. Kelly, the new legit actor, said: ‘I have a reasonable complaint about the guest of honor —one of his first efforts on the stage was an imitation of the Virginia Judge. I heard him and bought him a fiddle. But he is one of the principal contributors to public entertainment, along with Mae West's hips, Joe. E. Brown's mouth and Jimmy Durante's snout.’
Harry Hershfield said about radio: ‘If you are lousy, in two minutes the whole world knows it.’ Will Mahoney made it short and wished he had the vocabulary of Schnozz Durante, who failed to show. Harry Rose explained how he finally made the grade at the guest table: ‘I had to give three gags to Jay C. Flippen and tell Jack Benny that I hate Sid Silvers.’ Joe Browning said first he ever heard about Bernie was an act called Klass and Bernie, which was the tip-off. The Ritz Brothers also laid an egg, but Joe Laurie did okay interrupting from the floor.
Then Bernie got up: ‘It is the height of folly to follow Bobby Clark's water wings yarn. I tried it once before. Have been laughing all evening, but I am too engulfed in sentimentality. In such a spot Charlie Chaplin once told me: ‘Don't try to respond because you'll lay an egg.’ Which he did.

April 18, 1933
Gen'l Motors Off Big Program Until Fall
General Motors has decided against a program of institutional intent before fall. Up for consideration was a one-hour variety affair suggested by NBC.
Meantime, Pontiac has added six more weeks to its stay on CBS, and Chevrolet is contemplating adding a similar stretch for its Jack Benny period on NBC. Latter contract has until May 12 to go.

April 25, 1933
Chevrolet Extends
Chevrolet's Friday night NBC show, with Jack Benny, has been extended another six weeks. Takes the program to June 30.
Renewal will make it a run of 20 weeks for Benny, who followed Al Jolson in the spot.

Broadway
Ed Harrison p. a.’ing for Jack Benny.

May 2, 1933
‘Memory Lane’ Feature of Frolic on May 14
The Friars will hold their annual public Frolic at the New Amsterdam Sunday May 14. A feature of the show will be ‘Down Memory Lane,’ the old-timers night held in the clubhouse and rated one of the outstanding shows ever staged by the Friars.
Former governor Al Smith has been invited to participate in that portion of the show and it is understood he regards the suggestion favorable.
Ticket scale will be $11 top which applies to the first eight rows, with the balance of the lower floor at $5.50 and $3.30. First day's ticket sale brought in $1,800. Lou Holtz will be Frolicker, with Jack Benny and Jay Flippen the assistant Frollckers.

May 23, 1933
DOUBT G-M RENEWING ON CHEV OR PONTIAC
Chances of General Motors renewing the Chevrolet-Jack Benny show on NBC and the Pontiac-Stoopnagle and Budd whirl on Columbia are slim. In such an event it will be the first time that G-M has been off the air since the summer of 1929.
Chevrolet is due to call it quits for the season with Benny's June 21 show. Pontiac program expires June 22.

June 6, 1933
News From the Dailies
Jack Benny has leased a three room terrace apartment on the 19th floor of Essex house overlooking Central Park.

June 13, 1933
ROGERS' SPOT BECOMES AGENTS' SUMMER PLUM
When Will Rogers goes off the Gulf Refining half hour June 25 anybody from Sir Harry Lauder to Jack Benny may succeed him. W. C. Fields has also been proposed.
This is the big plum for the agents right now, with all sorts of ideas proffered since the program stays on over the summer. Cecil, Warwick & Cecil agency had been propositioned to pick up Lauder by low wavelength as an international bally, but the surcharged static conditions of the ether during the hot month's ruled that idea out as too great a risk.

June 20, 1933
Blumberg’s Unit Show
A unit show on percentage, comprising Jack Benny, Frances Williams, Jans and Whalen and an opening and No. 2 act, opens June 30 at the Palace, Chicago, for eight weeks in the RKO western theatres operated by Nate Blumberg.
Blumberg set the deal in New York yesterday—(Monday) with Lyons & Lyons, which organized the unit.
Date will be on a straight 50-50 basis between the show and theatre all over.

June 27, 1933
CHEVY HAS BENNY, BUT GM QUIET OVER FUTURE
Although no return date to the air has been set, Chevrolet has placed Jack Benny under contract for the fall. Agreement given the comic just prior to Chevrolet's last broadcast for the summer Friday (23) guarantees him a minimum of 13 weeks with options for similar periods. General Motors as yet has made no plans for its other subsids and doesn't expect to do anything in the way of radio for them until the fall, when advertising appropriations are usually figured out.
Stoopnagle and Bud closed their series for Pontiac on CBS Wednesday (21), but GM has made no commitment about using them again in the fall.

Broadway
Harry Jans’ new wagon looked like Joe Jackson's bike after another car gave it a sideswipe. He was on the way to the Hamas-Laughran flight when it happened. Jack Benny and Goodman Ace were passengers, but nobody hurt.

July 11, 1933
Adherence to Salary Pact Cost RKO-B&K $7,000 in On Last Week
Chicago, July 10.
Salaries set by the four major variety circuits for themselves and each other cost RKO and Balaban & Katz about $7,000 in two deals made for stage shows just week. The bookings involved were the Jack Benny-Frances Williams-Jans and Whalen bill at the RKO Palace and Harry Richman at B&K's Chicago.
[snip]
The Palace did sensational business with the Benny show, which received $9,500 against a $5,000 guarantee on the week's $29,000 gross. Same bill at non-agreement values would be priced at around $6,500.

JACK BENNY THE BIG B.O. NOISE IN K.C.
Kansas City, July 9.
The Mainstreet, with Jack Benny's Revue the big noise, is set for another of its big weeks. A few seasons ago Benny was just another act on the Midland’s bill, but now with his host of radio followers, he is just about the whole show. Heavy display ads in the papers for his show, with only a little square in the corner telling that ‘Professional Sweetheart’ was the screen offering.
Mainstreet (RKO) (3,000; 25-35-50), ‘Professional Sweetheart’ (RKO) and Jack Benny Revue. Latter was given the works on publicity and was on the air over WDAF the evening before the opening to let his radio followers know he was here in person with his boys and girls. Will probably hold strong for a big $18,000.

July 18, 1933
Guarantee Plus System May Become General—Jack Benny the Example
The guarantee and percentage terms by the successful vaude-shows to date is opening up a new avenue of show business and creating more time with the theatres relying upon the attractions to prove their worth.
Pearl-Whiteman-Boswell Sisters and the Jack Benny engagements have exceeded managerial expectations through the percentages. Benny’s getting a minimum guarantee but walking away with huge chunk of sugar on the percentage, is proving something about the percentage thing.
[snip]
Benny is negotiating with Darryl Zanuck’s 20th Century Pictures and also for a series of Educational comedy shorts, for which reason his road tour ends after Detroit.
The comedian goes to Des Moines, St. Paul, Minneapolis and then Detroit, latter at the RKO Downtown, which is reopening with Benny's engagement.
The Fox, Detroit, has booked the Benny Davis Gang in that week to buck Benny.

July 25, 1933
G. M. HURRYING UP 3 NEW AIR SHOWS
Splurge made by the Ford dealers with the Lum and Abner team has resulted in General Motors' expediting its return to the network airlanes.
G. M. last week rushed three different shows into production and debuts all three within the next 8 days. There is also a possibility that the return of Jack Benny for Chevrolet will be advanced.
First of the G. M. twosome makes its bow Monday (31) on an NBC-WEAF link and will carry the Buick banner. Cast consists of Conrad Thibault, Arlene Jackson, Nightingale trio, Songsmith quartet, Ohman and Arden, piano team, Arthur Boran, comic; and a Gus Haenschen combo.
Pontiac's whirl, pairing Don Ross, barytone, and the Vincent Sorcy orch., goes CBS on a daytime schedule Aug. 1. Night of same day the same web unveils the Oldsmobile setup comprised of Barbara Maurted, the Humming Birds trio, Ted Husing and Leon Belasco's unit.

ACTORS MUST RESERVE HOTEL SPACE IN CHI
Chicago, July 24.
Actors coming to Chicago for theatrical engagements are warned that it's absolutely imperative to make hotel reservations in advance. All the loop and near north side taverns are jammed because of the World's Fair.
Jack Benny and Milton Berle both came to town without giving hotels a thought. Both had to wait several hours until rooms were vacated before the hotels could take care of them. Other actors have had to hang around without a bathtub to call their own.
Actors should not expect so-called theatrical hotels to take care of them without advance information.

August 29, 1933
BENNY EAST
Hollywood, Aug. 28.
Jack Benny, vacationing here for the past two weeks, will leave end of next week for Chicago and New York.
With his Chevrolet broadcast switched from Friday to Sunday, Benny will possibly do a show in New York this winter. Broadcast starts Oct. 1.

September 19, 1933
BENNY SPREAD EXTENDED
New hookup that Chevrolet has arranged for Jack Benny where the comic resumes on NBC's red (WEAF) link, Oct. 1, involves 59 stations. It's 11 better than the auto firm used last season. Schedule is a Sunday night spot from 10 to 10:30, EST, with the program again using Frank Black as the baton support and Mary Livingstone (Mrs. Benny) as part of the cross-fire contingent.

Par Ups Benny Figure
Jack Benny and a unit are set for the Broadway at $6,000 plus percentage.
Jans and Whalen and either Lita Gray Chaplin or Frances Williams will be in support. On the road, latter was with Benny. Lyons & Lyons booked.
The 6G is a $1,000 increase for the act.

September 26, 1933
NO VAUDE FOR BENNY PENDING NEW AIR SHOW
Jack Benny, who starts Oct. 1 for Chevrolet, has declined all theatrical engagements prior to Nov. 3. Comedian, figures the strain of launching a radio program makes theatrical engagements too risky until the first four or five broadcasts are over and everything is functioning.
Benny returned from California last week to ready for the Chevrolet start.

Radio Chatter
Goodman Ace, Fred Allen and Jack Benny, all comedians, and Jane Ace, Portland Hoffa, and Mary Livingston, all wives, sat around the radio last Wednesday (20) and listened to Milton Berle. It brought back the subject of the good old days.

October 3, 1933
CHEVROLET
Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Frank Parker, Alois Havrilla, Frank Black
COMMERCIAL
WEAF, New York
Entourage that Chevrolet brought back Sunday (1) was somewhat revised as to cast, but the entertainment wallop was there heftier than ever. Outstanding changes are Frank Parker in the tenor spot and Alois Havrilla, both as spieler of the blurb and as another antagonist in the ribbing passages. In either case the entry is all to the program's good. One adds a pair of lyrical pipes that spells s. a. plus, and the other makes a swell foil for the Benny brand of humor.
Sunday night's show opened brightly, as far as the comedy phrase was concerned with a fast exhibit of give and take between Benny and a bunch of interviewing reporters. But the high spot of the half hour's tomfoolery revolved around a resourcefully nimble travesty on the Disney short, 'Three Little Pigs.' Benny called it ‘Three Little Pugs.’ Intertwining of the plug here was also deftly done.
Parker also gave a good account of himself in the line reading bits with Benny and Mary Livingstone, in turn. Material handed the latter hued close to the old line. Frank Black served up the musical interludes with the usual snappy and satisfying harmony. Odec.
[Note: the reporters were played by Harry Baldwin, Jack’s personal secretary; Ralph Ashe; Louis Sorin and Blanche Stewart].

November 14, 1933
PARAMOUNT, N. Y.
(JACK BENNY UNIT)
Jack Benny, Mary Livingston, Jans and Whalen, Lita Grey Chaplin and the Bob Alton Girls comprise the Paul Oscard unit production titled ‘Let’s Get Going,’ which constitutes the stage show at the Par this week. Feature is Chevalier’s ‘Way to Love.’
It’s a good unit, better than the usual thing which the personal-appearancing radio names slap together when cashing in on the ether rep. That's explained obviously by Benny's stage antecedents which, however, because of the great consciousness impressed via the mikes, even makes his fiddle solo seem strange. It’s comparable to W. C. Fields, who, were he to dig up the juggling cigar boxes and tennis balls, would amaze most people with unsuspected versatility for they’d forgotten that he was originally a juggler.
Benny starts off a laff sequence by stating he’s appearing here this week by courtesy of Mae West finally getting out of the theatre after four weeks.
Introducing Mary Livingston, his radio heckler and ally, as Mrs. Benny, that’s a build-up for a flirtatious scene with the willowy Lita Grey Chaplin who gets very serious with a ‘Subway Blues’ number. It also makes possible some business with the s. a. situash and Hollywood, Benny sparing himself nothing, excepting that it gets the desired laff results.
Jans and Whalen, sans their ‘St. James Infirmary’ hotcha femme aide, knock about and ‘a-goggle-a-ga’ to healthy return.
Ditto the Bob Alton line of girls They go through an American Patrol military drill with luminous paint variations, that's in keeping with the Armistice Week occasion.
But the unit is really all Benny. He's as suave and punchy on stage as via the mike, perhaps more so.
Charles Previn maestroing an energetic ‘Broadway Hits of 1933’ overture suggests being a logical successor to Rubinoff as a personality maestro at this house. His is an even more nervous style of conducting but with the saving grace of comedy, whereas Rubinoff shadow-boxes a great overture. Menotta Saltl made a swell arrangement of the medley.
Newsreel and ‘One Awful Night,’ a Pallette-Catlett short which showed at the block-distant Rialto a month ago round out the flicker portion. That previously shown short, of course, is out of place in a first run deluxer and is somebody’s error.

Benny's $6,500
Jack Benny unit current at the Paramount, New York, is routed at $6,500 for Loew's Stanley, Baltimore, Dec. 1, and then two weeks into the RKO Albee, Brooklyn; booked by Lyons & Lyons.
Mary Livingstone, Jans and Whalen and Lita Grey Chaplin are in it.

November 21, 1933
Jessel Sun. Pinch-Hitter
Jack Benny-Mary Livingston radio unit at the Century, Baltimore, this week skipped the Sunday show, flying in for the regular Sunday nite Chevrolet broadcast.
George Jessel filled in, being compensated by Benny direct and not by the theatre, for the day's substitution.
Next week in Phllly with Sunday shows taboo, it's a break for Benny's ether chores.

November 28, 1933
Baltimore
By Al Scharper
Jack Benny, Lita Grey Chaplin and Mary Livingston up to the Intercollegiate club dance to welcome Ethel Shutta and George Olsen, who supplied the dansapation.

December 5, 1933
Jack Benny Extended
Chevrolet has renewed for Jack Benny and the others on its Sunday night NBC whirl for another 13-week cycle.
Benny, Mary Livingstone and Frank Parker have until this Sunday (10) to go under their initial contract for the season.

December 12, 1933
CRAIG BENEFIT DEC17 IN N.Y.
Benefit show for the family of Richy Craig, Jr., who died Nov. 28, will be staged the evening of Dec. 17 at the New Amsterdam theatre, New York. Tickets at $3, $2 and $1.
Show is being promoted by Bob Hope of ‘Gowns By Roberta,’ who is guaranteeing the house and cost of the benefit out of his own pocket.
A long list of acts including Jack Benny, Max Baer, Abe Lyman's band and many others is pledged to appear. Sanction for its entire membership to take part has been given by the ABA.

Inside Stuff-Vaude
Jack Benny, Jesse Block and Al Birnes were dated to meet their wives after the show at the Palace, New York, a few nights ago. When they arrived at the theatre the picture had about five minutes to go, so they asked an usher for admittance ‘to look for our wives.’ Usher let 'em in.
With the picture over, the women met their husbands in the back of the house and raved about the picture. ‘If it's that good, we might as well catch the midnight show and meet you at the hotel,’ said Block. To which the girls agreed.
The three gents picked out three nice, soft seats and proceeded to catch the picture. It went along okay about a half hour, when the film suddenly stopped and the house lights went up. They looked around to find they were the only customers left.
The usher who had left them in on the cuff walked down the aisle, glared at this embarrassed trio and asked, with her best RKO sneer: ‘Well, gentlemen, did you find your wives?’

December 19, 1933
BENNY UNIT AT $6,500
Jack Benny unit, with Frances Williams, plays the RKO Albee, Brooklyn, week Dec. 29 on guarantee and percentage.
Guarantee figure is $6,500.

News From the Dailies
Jack Benny is looking for a comedy in which he can star himself. Will be his own backer.


1 comment: