Sunday, 29 November 2015

Jack Benny in 1935

Hollywood had an unexpected influence on radio production. Studios during the Depression looked for new stars to try to attract an audience, and found them in the recently-invented network comedy/variety shows. So big money was offered to them to become film stars. There was one difficulty. Virtually all network radio in 1935 was based in New York City or Chicago. Phone circuits that fed the networks went east to west. It was almost prohibitively costly to reverse the lines. But, eventually, so many radio stars migrated to Hollywood that A.T. and T. solved the line problem and network production headed west, too.

Jack Benny was among the radio stars working in Hollywood in 1935 and though he originated some of his shows in New York the following year he, realistically, had moved permanently to southern California. MGM signed him to a deal and fans lined up to see his movies, despite the fact they were considered lightweight and contrived even at the time. Interestingly, one of them involved Sid Silvers, the actor-comedian who lost an Either-He-Goes-Or-I-Go radio battle with Benny in 1932. Benny had script approval, and it’s interesting to speculate that he was responsible for Silvers’ part being chopped down (Silvers almost quit because of it). However, it’s said that Benny never carried a grudge and he and Silvers not only appeared on the screen together, they worked together again on radio.

1935 brought more changes to Benny’s Jell-O show. Come the fall, bandleader Don Bestor and singer Frank Parker left. Both decided to remain in the east. Jimmy Grier had led a band on previous Benny shows in Los Angeles, and he auditioned for the job permanently but the sponsor picked composer/pianist Johnny Green. The piano was no more prominently on display in the musical interludes on Benny show than when Green was the musical director. Parker was replaced with Michael Bartlett, a protégé of opera singer Grace Moore, who had insisted he appear in her picture for Columbia. Bartlett bolted after five programmes, deciding his future rode with Moore. Benny plucked young Kenny Baker out of obscurity to take Bartlett’s spot. As well, Sam Hearn’s Schlepperman character had made him so popular, he headlined a touring stage show and lined up work elsewhere on radio. Pat C. Flick was hired to replace Hearn as the dialectician. Moving with the show from New York to Los Angeles was the very talented Blanche Stewart, who was one of the Chicken Sisters in Benny’s stage show.

Below is what Weekly Variety had to write about Benny in 1935. We’ve included some reviews of his movie, stage and radio work. Of interest is a one-liner about Benny and Phil Harris. It doesn’t appear Philsy auditioned for the band job given to Green, but it shows he and Benny were acquainted before landing the gig in 1936. Also of note was the idea that General Foods wanted to switch sponsorship of the show from Jell-O to Grape Nuts for part of 1935. It finally happened in 1942; Jack warded off another swap attempt in the early ‘40s.

Jan. 1, 1935
STANLEY PITT RESUMES VODE WITH JACK BENNY
Pittsburgh, Dec. 31.
Stanley, Warner’s downtown deluxer, resumes stage shows Jan. 11, when Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, surrounded by a unit, come in for a week's stay. They'll miss only one performance, Sunday midnight show, due to their weekly Jello broadcast, which will take them back to New York for single day.
It’ll be the Stanley's first vaude since Paul Whiteman's band played here, almost two months ago. Stage resumption by WB is likely to plunge rival Loew's Penn back into combo policy again. Save for occasional bookings, deluxers have left stage field to Alvin and Pitt.

Jan. 8, 1935
L. K. Sidney Staging '35 Friar's Frolic
Louis K. Sidney will stage this year’s Friars’ Frolics, which goes on Feb. 24 at the Majestic, New York. There's a possibility the show may be presented on two successive Sunday nights.
Frolickers will be George Jessel, Jack Benny, Irving Caeser and Rudy Vallee.

New York Radio Parade
By Nellie Revell
Benny does five more shows for Jello after which the sponsor changes the product plugged to Grape-Nuts.

Jan. 15, 1935
JACK BENNY IS TOPS IN PITT., $30,000
All roads lead to the Stanley this week, with Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone the signature. Picture is ‘Behold My Wife’ but doesn’t mean a thing; it’s the ether names who’ll get the credit when the $30,000, or thereabouts, is chalked off. That tops every stage attraction around here in years with the exception of the Cantor-Rubinoff combo.
Estimates for This Week
Stanley (WB) (3,600; 25-40-60)—‘Behold My Wife’ (Par) and Jack Benny-Mary Livingston on stage. Every extra nickel in town this week finding its way into the Stanley till, with Benny the reason. Looks for a big $30,000, maybe more. First ray of sunshine site has had in some time. Last week ‘Bordertown’ (WB) not bad at $8,500 in five days.

STANLEY, PITT
Pittsburgh, Jan. 11
Legit’s loss this season a break for the deluxe houses. With Sam H. Harris shelving of the Kaufman-Ryskind satire, ‘Bring On the Girls,’ Jack Benny is free to collect in the big movie spots and whatever he collects he deserves. Judging from things here this afternoon, the houses he plays won’t have any complaints either.
Lines a block long before b.o. opened is a pretty, accurate gauge of what radio has done for Benny. Last time here at opposition Penn in a unit, he had no air rep and meant little. Since then he's had, in addition to the ether build-up, a successful flicker, ‘Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round’, and should attract dough anywhere.
What’s more, he won’t disappoint the folks whose acquaintance with the suave comic has been confined strictly to radio. He has nothing now he didn’t always have, but he needs even less. Mob was eating out of his hand before he was on 10 seconds and from then on it was clear sailing, with laughs and applause coming so thick and fast that show, of necessity, ran ait least quarter of an hour overtime.
Show itself is aces, too. Starts off in whirlwind fashion with Liazeed Arabs, who display some of the most amazing tumbling and strong-arm stuff on record, and there’s no let-up from Four Flash Devils, who follow. Sepia hoofers haven’t much more than a lot of other challenge dancing turns, but they’re tops in showmanship and that accounts for the difference. At this point Benny makes his first appearance, introduction coming from an offstage announcer, and on to a terrific reception. After a couple of typical cracks, including plug for his air product, he brings on the frau, Mary Livingston, who obviously closely approximates her husband’s air popularity, if the palm-pounding was any indication.
Crossfire between the two leads into one of Mary’s poems, dedicated to Pittsburgh, and she gets off only with difficulty. Jack Fulton next, former Paul Whiteman crooner, slowing up proceedings a bit, but not too noticeably. Boy rates with the best of them in vocal equipment, but still doesn’t know how to sell it to an audience via the mike. He was singing at them, but not to them.
Closing half hour belongs exclusively to Benny, Livingston and his three female stooges, the Chicken Sisters. Latter wowed ‘em from start to finish, with some shrewd feeding by Benny, who’s probably one of the best laugh-pacers around today. Gals are a misfit harmony trio who satirize all harmony trios, but with a down-to-earth satire that isn't above anybody's head. They took at least four bows and could have taken a flock more. Here band switches from pit to stage, and Benny goes into his familiar baton burlesque, brings the missus on again and she takes a crack at the mike with ‘Object of My Affections’, and had to warble another encore chorus before she could get away.
For his finale Benny has a smart piece of business. All through the closing sections he’s been threatening to play the fiddle. Finally gets around to it, announcing ‘Mighty Like a Rose’. After first few bars, screen curtain comes down, horns blare out and house goes right into the feature picture, ‘Behold My Wife’ (Par), with Benny standing there alone. It’s a swell exit. Cohen.

New York Radio Parade
By Nellie Revell
Jack Benny show will originate in Chicago on the 20th. The Benny's and Frank Parker are vaudevilling in that town . . . Sam Hearn goes into the new Joe Cook opus, ‘Listen My Children’ . . . Hearn does Schlepperman on the Benny show.

January 22, 1935
May Hold in Chi
Chicago, Jan. 21.
Jack Benny show with Margaret Livingston and Frank Parker, now at the Chicago, may hold over for a second week.
If it can be worked out, Benny’s second week will be a six-day ride closing on Wednesday (30) so the show can make a Friday (1) opening at the Hippodrome in Baltimore. Benny is heading for a big gross at the Chicago currently, and will do five shows daily this week.

Chas. Dill of 4 Flash Devils Held in Ptsbg.
Pittsburgh, Jan. 21
Charles Dill, 26, member of the sepia hoofing act known as the Four Flash Devils, was arrested last week backstage at the Stanley, where he was appearing on a bill with Jack Benny, for dropping slugs into pay telephones. Under suspicion for a couple of days, phone company detectives set a trap for Dill and nabbed him when he paid for a phoned telegram to New York with a couple of two-bit slugs.
Given an alderman's hearing, he was held for court and released under $500 bond. He gave his address as 310 West 125th street, New York.

Radio Chatter
Pittsburgh
By Hal Cohen.
During his stay here last week, Jack Benny dubbed Mayor McNair ‘Will Rogers, Jr.’
Don Bestor’s band in town all week for the annual auto show at Motor Square Garden.
The Jack Bennys tossed a party at Joe Hiller’s nite spot on their eighth wedding anniversary.

January 29, 1935
Radio Chatter
Maryland
Jack Benny broadcast for Jello will be aired next Sunday (3) from WBAL's studio in Balto. The ether comic has vaudate next week at the Hippodrome.

ROXY PLAYING JACK BENNY AT $7,500
Jack Benny will be the first outside act into the Roxy-Mastbaum, Philadelphia, since S. L. Rothafel went into the spot. Benny opens there Feb. 8 at $7,500 plus a percentage for six days.
Warner deluxer has been playing only specially produced shows since coming under Roxy’s wing, the WB booking office in New York providing the necessary specialties. Benny booking is an effort to hypo the grosses.
Prior to Philly, Benny plays the Hipp. Baltimore, Feb. 1. The week of Feb. 15 he goes to the Earle, Washington, and March 1 he repeats at the Chicago, Chicago, where he played last week at $5,750, but came out with $8,500, due to extra shows. Return date at the Chicago will be at $7,500 and percentage, as are the others.
Deals were negotiated by Lyons & Lyons.

B & K Offers Oaklies or N. Y. Par to Keen Benny in Chi 2d Wk.
Chicago, Jan. 28.
Jack Benny and troupe signatured for a return at the B. & K., Chicago, starting March 1. B. & K. was anxious to have Benny hold over immediately after his week of Jan. 18, but was unable to make, the necessary arrangements due to the fact that the advertising agency in New York had already sent out guest ducats for the eastern broadcasts yesterday (27).
B. & K., through Publix, offered to honor the Jell-O broadcast ducats at the Paramount theatre in New York in order to keep Benny in Chicago immediately, but it was no go.

Busy Sam Hearn
Sam Hearn, written into the Eno (Mark Hellinger) show on NBC for one shot last week, stays on that program permanently, it makes Hearn the most prolific network comic on the air.
In addition to the Eno job, Hearn has his own program (Tastyeast) on Sundays, and is on the Jack Benny (Jello) show regularly on Sunday nights. He works under his own name only on Tastyeast.

February 5, 1935
HIPPODROME, BALTO
Baltimore, Feb. 1.
Jack Benny is piling ‘em right up to the eaves. He is handling the m.c. ministrations and doing, in the round, some 27 mins. Comes on at conclusion of the second turn, keeps the mob on edge right through to conclusion.
Aside from his suave observations when working single, he has the Three Chicken Sisters, lampooners of all femme harmony trios, to stooge for him. The gals and he bounce back and forth some bright badinage then they shift over to their parodied warbling and hold the show in its tracks. Mary Livingstone also around, and makes Benny the stooge. She resorts to much of the established type of radio material, such as composing and reciting dotty poems.
Benny is a master ad libber, shooting across the foots at this catching a pair of nifties conceived on spur of moment when actions of audience afforded an opening and motivation. Best of his monolog also relievingly fresh and original in its humor, cracking about town’s idiosyncrasies, Hauptmann trial, World Court question, etc.
Understood that at opening show, Benny couldn’t get off, impeding the start of the logical closer, Liazeed Arabs. So, thereafter, house had the headliner closing, using the simple expedient of lowering the screen and going into the feature, ‘Carnival’ (Col), to whisk him off.
After the Liazeeds open with 7 mins. of fine tumbling and pyramiding, a dance-flash, Lew Duthers, Jean and Joan, follows. Strictly hoofing and turn strives diligently, but sums up just fairly effective. A modest little act, but badly in need of a new backdrop.
John Fogarty is sandwiched into the elongated Benny turn. The tenor’s usual nine-minute chore had to be ballooned to 13 minutes, and even then he pleaded off with difficulty. A male assists him at the piano.

Benny, Spitalny Object to Spotlight Ads in Charity Show—Take a Walk
Jack Benny and Phil Spitalny walked from the musiclans’ relief broadcast last Sunday (3) which Schaefer beer underwrote because of the way the commercial billed the charity angle in the spotlight ads it carried in the New Year Dailies. The ads, claimed Benny and Spitalny, gave the impression that all the artists listed had been retained by and were being paid by the Schaefer Co. Benny and Spitalny also objected to the fact that the line, ‘For the Benefit of Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund,’ was not only set up in very small type but buried in the ad.
Other acts that failed to show, though billed, were Charles Winninger and Phil Baker. For the use of 10 mike names and a CBS studio, combo, whose leadership was shared by Andre Kostelanetz and William M. Daly, and an hour’s time oyer nine New York City outlets Schaefer contributed $10,000 to the Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund, chairmaned by Walter Damrosch and devoted to taking care of professional and aspiring concert artists.
Because the Damrosch affair does not split with the relief fund of the New York musicians’ union, the latter’s members are required to collect the scale fee for appearing on these broadcasts.
Continental Baking on Jan. 20 sponsored a similar broadcast.

WGN Show from B.&K. Chi Stage Off After Benny Plugs Rival Paper
Chicago, Feb. 4
Exploitation cooperative broadcast of a Balaban & Katz show over WGN, Chicago Tribune station, every Tuesday evening has been discontinued following a burn on the part of WGN over the type of show B & K. has been sending over the transmitter. For some time the station has been complaining that B. & K. must improve its radio production for the WGN broadcast and not merely slap several of the yaude acts together to fill up the 30-minute period.
But the blow-off came last week with the broadcast of Jack Benny, who was playing the B. & K. Chicago theatre. Benny at first refused to go on for the sustainer, claiming that his vaude contract didn’t call for broadcast. B. & K. brought out the contract and showed Benny a clause which specified that he must go on the ether.
Burning over this, Benny okayed the WGN show and when on the air then spotted plugs for the Herald-and-Examiner, the morning rag rival of the Tribune, which owns WGN.
Plan is being worked out now whereby the B. & K. broadcast will be resumed only as a musical show. Show will likely hit on Saturday p.m. and carry a seven-piece orchestra with no talk.

Inside Stuff—Radio
New York World-Telegram published its annual radio editors’ popularity poll in the Saturday (2) edition. Tops were for 1934. Firsts as compiled by the dally went to the following: Favorite program, also favorite comedian, Jack Benny; popular songstress, Jane Froman; popular singer, Bing Crosby; dance orchestra, Guy Lombardo; harmony, Mills Brothers; symphonic conductor, Leopold Stokowski; classical singer, Lawrence Tibbett; instrumentalist, Albert Spalding; best musical program, Waring’s; radio actress, Mary Pickford; children's program, Irene Wicker; commentator, Edwin C. Hill; sports, Ted Husing; announcer, James Wallington; outstanding new star, Helen Jepson; home economics, Ida Bailey Allen.
Eugene O’Neill, the playwright, wrote Jack Benny from Georgia giving the radio comic permission to travesty O’Neill’s works, but with the proviso they be clearly labelled and the titles modified.
Sunday (8) broadcast was called ‘Emperor Benny’. Playwright wrote Benny that he listened to the program regularly.

February 12, 1935
Here and There
Jack Benny and Don Bestor renewed for another 20 weeks by General Foods for the Jell-O frame on NBC.

Parker’s Vaude Dates
Frank Parker, tenor with Jack Benny on the air and on the Gulf oil program, is going vaude as a single. Opens for Loew in Washington, Feb. 22. Agented through the William Morris office.

Roxy-Mastbaum, Phila.
Philadelphia, Feb. 8
Philly's biggest film house has its first name since reopening under Roxy direction at the holiday time. Also, it had its biggest first-day house since the start and promises to achieve its biggest single week gross since the first week also, and that first week had the benefit of a holiday influx.
Name this week is Jack Benny who did a fairly good but not exceptional week last season at the Earle. Since that time, however, he has bounded up several more rungs of the fame ladder and his radio following was out in full force to welcome him.
Management must have figured that he would do the trick and was satisfied to stand or fall on him alone. Pic is a programmer and rest of the stage show is skimpy and uninspired. Audience opening day sat, comatose and sleepy, until the Bennys appeared; then they whooped it up, applauded and laughed at anything and went out apparently quite satisfied.
Result of this week’s biz is likely to decide future policy of the Roxy Mastbaum.
‘Woman in Red’ (FN) opens the program. There hasn’t been a Barbara Stanwyck film that did any business in Philly for a couple of years and this is no better. Orchestra, Adolphe Kornspan leading, starts the stage off well enough with a medley called ‘Collegiana’ which contains four or five familiar college songs. Strictly in the collegiate atmosphere, too, is the rendering of one of the University of Pennsylvania's livelier numbers, ‘Fight on, Penn’ which is given with considerable verve by the Roxy Glee Club. The stage setting with a balcony in the background against a vivid and well-painted cycle is good, but the costumes are pretty dismal—an unusual fault in a Roxy-staged production. Something a lot more fitting and more attractive could have been conceived for this campus bit.
Rahrah stuff is dropped in favour of a bow to Valentine’s Day. Mary Carolyn Henry and Walter Pharr do the warbling, ‘Won’t You Be My Valentine?’ with an unprogrammed couple, made up as octogenarians, doing a very unfunny reprise.
Back to college stuff again in ‘Sweetheart of Sigma Chi,’ sung by the Roxy male ensemble to a good-looking, also unprogrammed blonde.
Then the rightly-famed Roxyettes give the bill its’ sole highlight with a precision routine called ‘College Rhythm.’ For the first time the audience woke up. This went into the finale, ‘Alma Mater,’ which ended with rendition of ‘Hail, Pennsylvania,’ a big U of P banner floating overhead. Looks as if management were trying to wheedle Phllly’s biggest college, but it’s hardly likely that this week’s show will please the boys much, despite the alma mater anthems. Amplifier announced that the Roxy was proud to present radio’s favorite, Jack Benny. He came out on the apron to a big hand and chatted. Soon he introduced Mrs. B (Mary Livingstone) who got an equally big palm-patting. Working always in front of a curtain, Benny introduced, after Mary, Abrasha Roboffsky, a basso who sang Mussorksky’s ‘Song of the Flea’ in English translation. Just why this admirable vocalist is in Benny’s otherwise strictly wise-cracking show is hard to figure.
Next Benny introduced the Chicken Sisters of his radio sketches and his repartee with them got the best laughs of the evening. Mary Livingstone sang one number into the Mike to a good hand despite an obvious cold. Waters.

February 20, 1935
Radio Chatter
Pennsylvania
Jack Benny, Mary Livingston, Phil Harris and Leah Ray nite clubbing with Leon Levy, WCAU prexy, all last week.

February 27, 1935
‘Post Depresh Gaieties’ Whams Smart Audience as Op Stars Go Lowdown
Standout performer of the legit stage, with the aid of radio and grand opera toppers and even some of the critics, gave a show tabbed ‘The Post-Depression Gaieties’ and tickled a cream audience for the benefit of the depleted b.r.’s of the Authors’ League, and Stage Relief Funds Sunday night (24) at the New Amsterdam, N. Y.
[snip]
Jack Benny, behind a cigar, said he appeared to have been invited by an oversight, but with his ‘Three Chicken Sisters’ was a cinch score. He mentioned celebrities and added that anyone working on the stage these days is a celeb. It was a tough day for Benny, as he put it. Rehearsed his radio program until three, went to the Imperial to rehearse for the Friars Frolic (also Sunday night) was going back there after the ‘Gaieties’ appearance and thence to the studio for a rebroadcast at 11:30. After that, he thought, he’d go to Roseland and have a couple of dances.

March 6, 1935
Benny at $10,000
Another skyrocket stage salary, directly due to radio, is Jack Benny's $10,000 straight for the comedian and his wife (Mary Livingstone).
Benny ups to the 10G mark week of March 29 at the Met theatre (Paramount) in Boston. RKO plays in in Detroit the following week for the same figure, both deals made through Lyons & Lyons.
Latest jump is an increase from $4,000 within eight months.
Benny also was signed yesterday (Tuesday) by Metro for three pictures at $70,000 for each feature. He goes out June 1 for his first. Under the deal Benny makes his second for Metro in 1936 and third in 1937.

March 13, 1935
BENNY’S COAST CONFAB ON M-G YARD DEFERRED
Jack Benny couldn’t make an air hop to Hollywood Monday nor yesterday (Tuesday) because of bad flying conditions for a quickie. Metro powwow on his first of three MG pictures, and hence the flight is off until next week. Benny must be back within the same week, Friday at the latest, in order to make rehearsals for his ensuing Sunday’s commercial broadcast.
Radio comedian is slated for ‘Broadway Melody.’ Reason for the hurried flight is a studio huddle on story values as the comedian is intent on being protected on script. Sam Lyons will go with Benny, just for company when the trip is made. Arthur Lyons of the L&L agency, who set the deal, is already on the coast. When the comedian makes his Metro film, we will have his radio author, Harry W. Conn, also scripting his film sequences.

TITLE CONSCIOUS
Metro Casting. Broadway Names to Justify ‘Melody’ Tag
Hollywood, March 12
To justify the inclusion of Broadway in the title, ‘Broadway Melody of 1935,’ Metro is planning to spot a number of Broadway names in the cast of the musical.
So far studio has only Sid Silvers (also co-author of the script with Jack McGowan), Jack Benny and Buddy and Velma Ebsen in the cast. Negotiations are on for Eleanor Powell. Picture is scheduled to go into production around April 1 with Roy Del Ruth directing.
This is the first on Benny’s new three-picture Metro contract. He previously appeared for Metro as the m.c. in that studio’s ‘Hollywood Revue’ released in ’29.

Did You Know That—
the Jack Bennys may buy a house in California.

WRITERS 2% OF BUDGET
Comparatively Small Outlay Even on Big Network Programs For Writing Talent Compared to Pictures and Legit—Best Paid Radio Authors Work for Headliners, Not Programs
As spenders for time and talent radio sponsors rank among highest in the field of entertainment purveyors today. But as spenders for writers and material they are close to the lowest. Only branch in show business spending less for material than radio, pro rata, is burlesque, which hasn’t bought a script or hired a writer in 10 years.
[snip]
These statements are not materially affected by such high salaried individual writers as Harry Conn, who writes Jack Benny’s material.
Cohn gets $1,200 a Week but is considered worth it in view of Benny’s top rating.
[Note: Weekly Variety carried a sub-story stating “Rule against giving credits to writers over the air has been lifted by NBC.” Conn’s name was henceforth periodically mentioned by Benny].

New York Radio Parade
By Nellis Revell
Don Bestor of the Jack Benny shows auditions for an insurance company and a cosmetic maker this week.

March 20, 1935
Benny’s Delayed Start
Jack Benny finally got away Monday (18) for his Coast huddle with Metro on ‘Broadway Melody.’ Comedian must be back by Friday (22) to rehearse for his regular Sunday night broadcast.
Benny has a three picture deal with M-G plus an express proviso for his okay on scripts. He couldn’t make the plane hop last week as planned because of bad weather. Harry Lee accompanies on the ride both ways.

March 27, 1935
Benny from Coast
Jack Benny, back from the Coast after a fast trip to Hollywood for a Metro studio huddle, starts work on ‘Broadway Melody’ at the Culver City plant on April 10. He will broadcast for Jello from the Coast.
Harry W. Conn, Benny’s radio scriptist, will also work at Metro on Benny’s screen dialog.

April 3, 1935
Grier Ork for Benny
Hollywood, April 2.
Jimmie Grier and his orchestra have been signed to tune the Jello program over NBC, which features Jack Benny, during latter's stay on the Coast on a picture assignment beginning about April 10. Don Bestor has the present assignment east.

Metropolitan, Boston
Boston, March 29.
Jack Benny's in town this week; and his batch of talent as framed and embellished by Harry Gourfain, the Met producer, is the nuts. It’s b. o. all the way, but the actual show closer is a gag that shapes up as about the most unique finale seen in these parts for a long time.
Benny’s radio fans, who are filling the house this week, hang onto every familiar ether quip he lets loose, and especially on the gag about playing, ‘Love in Bloom’ on the fiddle. This standard Benny gag is the keynote of the closing stunt. He has already tried to do the solo earlier in the show, but is promptly interrupted by a stooge coming on stage and telling him to cut it so the next act can start working. But as a surprise finish to the show Benny announces that at last he's going to do that fiddle solo that’s been on his mind for so long. Just as he’s getting to first base with the tune, out on the apron, everything goes berserk. The sheet comes down in back of him, the feature picture socks on, and before the audience realizes what has happened the sound has drowned out the Benny solo and he’s strolling off with that genial grin of his. That's one way of getting him off.
Opener is a Congo number by the Elida Ballet, climaxed by a hip wiggling solo by a gal on a circular platform, held by the ballet gals. Good music, costuming and routining.
Then Benny makes his first bow; and it's a swell idea to get him out there early. After a chummy session with the congregation, about nothing in particular, Benny brings on Mary Livingston, who is received as if she's a home town gal. With some extremely good dialog, they subtly weave in the man-and-wife idea so firmly that anything they do from, that point is oke. With the customers. Miss Livingston hauls out a tailor-made bit of poetry about Boston, entitled ‘Philadelphia’ and ending in a funny quip about ‘Labor Day.’
Then it’s time for Eleanor Whitney and her tapping. She shoots the works, and is loaded with personality.
In the next frame, Benny is interrupted on his violin bit and he introduces J. Harold Murray, baritone from pix. Murray’s vocals are aces, but he’s sold most bullish in a masterful bit of showmanship in which Mary Livingston plays up to him while Benny stands out in left field, fidgeting.
Ballet prances on for a military tap in marine costume. Outstanding item in this routine is the music—a paraphrase of the familiar march, ‘Semper- Fldelis,’ exceptionally well arranged by Sid Reinherz and Peter Bodge of the Met music staff.
Next-to-closing shot is Benny’s Roman holiday with the Chicken Sisters. Introduced as an amateur ‘discovery,’ they set off a roar before they reach the mike. Chickens finale with their delivery of ‘Dream Walking’ in the ultra hoke manner.
Picture Is ‘Private Worlds’ (Par). Biz swell. Fox.

Inside Stuff—Radio
Jell-O is sending its whole NBC Sunday night troupe out to Hollywood to accompany Jack Benny, who goes west for a Metro picture. Broadcasts from the Coast start April 14 and will last until mid-July, when the show returns to New York.
Prior to leaving for Hollywood, Benny is playing a $10,000 stage date in Boston this week.

April 17, 1935
‘It’s in the Bag’ for Jack Benny at Metro
Hollywood, April 16.
Next for Jack Benny, under his two picture deal with Metro, will be ‘It’s in the Bag,’ an original by Byron Morgan and Lew Lipton. Slated to get going after the air comic finishes up in ‘Broadway Melody of 1936.’ Eleanor Powell is also featured the latter.
Chuck Reisner will direct.

Chatter
Hollywood
Jack Benny getting the roof of his mouth sun burned on Hollywood Blvd.

Radio Chatter
New England
Jack Benny, while doing his vaude-date at the Met theatre, Boston, played backgammon often between shows with the heftiest of the Chicken Sisters.
In other spare moments, the Jello comedian planked himself under a sun lamp to win that desired makeup effect for his next picture which he begins work on soon.

Sam Hearn’s 600% Salary Increase Through B’Casting
Sam Hearn, former vaude single but lately on the air, best known as ‘Shlepperman’ on the Jack Benny broadcast, is returning to vaude Friday (19) at the Metropolitan, Boston,, at a 600% increase over his last stage salary in the same town.
Hearn played Loew’s Orpheum in the Hub six months ago at $250. At Paramount’s Met he will receive $1,500. Myer North and Joe Flaum set the deal. When a standard vaude single a number of years ago, Hearn's salary
was $600. At one time recently he was working on about five radio programs, Gibson Family, Tastyeast, Mark Hellinger's ‘Penthouse Party,’ Eddie Cantor's and Jack Benny's. At present he is off the air.

April 24, 1935
Music Notes
Don Bestor opens at the St. Francis hotel. Frisco, April 30, making Sabbath flights to L.A. for the Jello broadcasts.

New York Radio Parade
By Nellis Revell
Sam Hearn joins the Benny troupe In Hollywood in two weeks....Don Bestor may do the J. Benny pix.

May 1, 1935
Gable's ‘Bounty’ Balk, Silvers Wants Out Too
Hollywood, April 30.
Two Metro players are balking on the lot. Clark Gable refuses to go into ‘Mutiny on the Bounty,’ and Sid Silvers, after being pulled out of a featured spot in ‘Broadway Melody,’ is asking for his release from his writer-actor contract.
Gable claims that his part in ‘Bounty’ is not for him. Silvers, with Jack McGowan, worked on the ‘Melody’ script for three months and was spotted in the picture in a part second only to Jack Benny. Last Wednesday Silvers was yanked from the cast and Stuart Erwin substituted. Silvers burned at the switch, demanded that the studio release him. Meanwhile studio is trying to explain the substitution, have the writer-comic remain on the lot.

Jack Benny’s Vacation
Jack Benny has been extended by Jell-O to July 20, at which time the comic will retire from radio for a six weeks vacation. When he returns it will be for the same account on the same Sunday night NBC spot.

May 8, 1935
Chatter
Hollywood
Jack Benny takes Bill Powell’s BevHills manse.

May 15, 1935
Sponsors—Agencies
Jell-O will call off its Sunday night show early in July and resume on NBC in September if it grants Jack Benny’s request for a 10-week vacation. Benny wants to go to Europe.

May 22, 1935
‘In the Bag’ Speeds Up, Jack Benny Misses Out
Hollywood, May 21.
To take advantage of the record script treatment of ‘It’s In the Bag,’ by Byron Morgan and Lew Lipton, Metro will have the picture before the cameras within two weeks. Intended as Jack Benny’s next, studio must find him another piece as comic will be tied up in ‘Broadway Melody of 1936’ for some time.
Chuck Reisner produces ‘Bag.’

June 10, 1935
Lesser Shaping Radio Kid Canary for Films
Hollywood, June 11.
Sol Lesser has given, a term contract to Bobby Breen, 7-year-old lyric tenor who has been guested on eastern chain programs at various times. A special story is being written in which to star him.
Kid is here for voice training under Dr. Mario Garafioti, who watches the pipes of most of the colony's warbling stars. Sunday (9) he was on the Jack Benny broadcast.

July 3, 1935
Benny’s 10 Off
Los Angeles, July 2.
Jack Benny has two more programs to go from the Coast and then will be off for 10 weeks, resuming with Jello.
Meantime he’ll barnstorm in the west and northwest.

July 10, 1935
Wllliam Rowland starts production on an indie musical for Universal release at Eastern Service Studios, Long Island City, Friday (12). It is entatively titled, ‘Sweet Surrender,’ from an original by Herbert Fields.
Frank Parker, who bowed out of Jack Benny’s last two radio broadcasts on the west coast, is the singing male lead.

July 17, 1935
STRATO BALLOON BUST DENTS MG ‘BAG’ IDEA
Hollywood, July 16.
Bustup of the planned stratosphere flight and destruction of the balloon in North Dakota’s Black Hills last week made a dent in Metro’s ‘In the Bag’ picture, which starts next week. Studio had planned to tie up the picture, based on the strata flight, with the Black Hill effort. Now abandoned until next year, the flight is no help to studio.
Camera crew was supposed to leave here for stock stuff this week. Picture stars Jack Benny, with Chuck Reisner directing.

OHMAN MAY REPLACE BESTOR WITH BENNY
Hollywood, July 18.
Phil Ohman orchestra, now playing here, may get the Don Bestor spot on the Jack Benny air program in September. Bestor closes at the Palomar here today (Tuesday) and goes east.
Benny may be held out here through the fall by picture work.

July 31, 1935
Here and There
Jimmy Grier, Orville Knapp and Jack Joy candidates for the music spot with Jack Benny this fall.

August 7, 1935
TITLE CHANGES
Hollywood, Aug. 6.
Jack Benny’s ‘In the Bag’ goes out as ‘Let Freedom Ring.’

Radio Chatter
California
Harry Jackson may get the band spot with Jack Benny.

August 14, 1935
LOBBYING ENDS, GREEN GETS BENNY BAND SPOT (Daily Variety)
Ending spirited controversy among musikers as to who would get the band spot with Jack Benny when he resumes his Jello program Sept. 29, announcement was made in New York yesterday that plum goes to Johnny Green. At same time it was stated that Michael Bartlett would take over Frank Parker's tenoring chores. Don Wilson, as barker, and Mary Livingston (Mrs. Benny), comedienne, remain with the trick.
Show for first eight or 10 weeks will be piped east from NBC studio here, depending on termination of Benny's picture work.
Nearly every local band of note lobbied for the spot, first one and then another claiming to have the inside track, Jack Joy, Jimmy Grier and Orville Knapp were the leading candidates until Young & Rubicam agency, handling the account, announced their selection.
Replacement of Frank Parker was necessitated by eastern commitments. He may rejoin the show when Benny finishes at Metro and takes his troupe to New York.

Green, Bartlett, Hearn On Benny Show; 1st 10 Weeks from Coast
Johnny Green’s orchestra, with Michael Bartlett, tenor, joins the new Jack Benny show for Jello over NBC, which starts Sept. 29. Mary Livingston, Don Wilson and Sam Hearn also return. Harry Conn writing.
Program will originate from the Coast for eight or ten weeks. Green will trek ahead two weeks in advance to get the band set. Bartlett is with Columbia Film studios. Account handled through Young & Rubicam agency.

August 21, 1935
AIR PREEM-MEBBE
If Lines Cleared, NBC to Pipe Cute Sayings at ‘Melody’
Hollywood, Aug. 20.
Not definitely set yet whether or not Metro can give ‘Broadway Melody of 1936’ a coast-to-coast bally on the preview at the Chinese here Aug. 24, due to NBC line clearance difficulties.
Studio plans the preview similar to the old time premiere with, Jack Benny and Sid Silvers handling the broadcast from a booth in the forecourt and Hollywood celebs chirping about how glad they are to be here and how they know the picture will be simply gr-rand.

DAYLIGHT AIR PREVIEW FOR METRO’S ‘MELODY’
Hollywood, Aug. 20
The first Hollywood matinee preview to hit the air goes out over NBC Aug. 24 on Metro’s ‘Broadway Melody of 1935.’ Gala pre-showing will be the first attempt to revive premiers, dead for two years.
Jack Benny and Sid Silvers, from the cast, will emcee. Ethering will hit the airlanes at 6 p.m., New York daylight time. It was switched from a night spot because unable to get clearance.

JACK BENNY EASTING AFTER FINISHING 2ND
Hollywood, Aug. 20.
Jack Benny, who goes east Sept. 2, has finished his second Metro picture, ‘Let Freedom Ring.’
He’s due back at Metro late in Sept., with studio hunting a story for his next opus.

NEW YORK RADIO PARADE
By Nellie Revell
Don Wilson, the NBC announcer, now in Calif., underwent a kidney operation that will keep him on the sidelines for two months. ‘Bout all he will do is spiel for Jello-Benny program when returns.

August 28, 1935
BENNYS TO CANADA
Hollywood, Aug. 27.
Too much heat and too much distance between here and New York has prompted Jack Benny and Mary Livingston to call off their auto junket east.
Instead they’ll chug up to Canada, returning in three weeks to resume their radio work.

MGM PREVIEW
With Jack Benny, Sid Silvers, Frances Langford, Harry Stockwell, Mary Livingston, Una Merkel, Louis B. Mayer, Harry Jackson Orchestra
30 Mins.
Sustaining
KFI, Los Angeles
Showmanly transcontinental broadcast of Metro’s ‘Broadway Melody of 1936’ from a forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese theatre in Hollywood that proved previews can be made interesting. It was a great piece of exploitation for the picture and a neat program for the network.
Film was plugged fore and aft and in between, but curse was taken off by Jack Benny's satirical commentary. Ably aided and abetted by Sid Silvers, Benny made it sound like a Jello broadcast which should be the tip off that it suffered no sinking spells. Crossfire of two comics kept things moving at a breezy clip.
Opening with a long roar by Leo, an adroit maneuver, program swung into an orchestral medley of hit tunes from the original ‘Broadway Melody.’ Benny then trotted out his gags, topping with a Jello bit that had him calling off the six delicious flavors a strawberry, raspberry, cherry, Metro, Goldwyn and Mayer.
Backed up by a mixed chorus, Frances Langford chanted ‘You Are My Lucky Star,’ followed by Harry Stockwell’s rendition of ‘On a Sunday Afternoon,’ both from the picture’s score. Sid Silvers unveiled a strong pair of Jolsonian pipes in pounding oft with ‘I’ve Got a Feeling You’re Fooling.’ Benny also took a whack at the vocal.
Wire gag with Una Merkel flattened out, but the gal’s effort was more than can be said of most of the femmes who take a mike bow and tell you how glad they are to be here. Benny and Silvers kept it from going to roost.
Bit that did click was Benny’s repartee with Silvers after Robert Taylor spoke his piece.
‘What’s he got that I haven’t?’ asked Silvers.
‘A contract,’ replied Benny.
Miss Langword did a torching of ‘Broadway Rhythm’ up brown, to be followed by Louis B. Mayer, who thanked NBC and Prez Aylesworth, told of the affinity between radio and pictures and bespoke the great things in store for Benny and others of the cast at Metro.
Mary Livingston uncorked a poetic plug for the picture just before the signoff. Helm.

September 11, 1935
METRO GIVES BENNY PIC $100,000 BUILDUP
Hollywood, Sept. 10.
Metro has decided to spend another $100,000 on added sequences for Jack Benny’s second starring picture for that company, ‘Let Freedom Ring.’ Execs generated enthusiasm for the picture at a sneak preview out of town last week and figured the added expenditure would swing the feature into higher percentage brackets when released.
New sequences and the finish are being worked out by Chuck Reisner and Lew Lipton. Reisner handled the picture as producer-director and Lipton collaborated with Byron Morgan on the original and script.
Benny is driving back from Seattle, and the added sequences are expected to get under way next week.

Inside Stuff—Pictures
Figuring to cash in on any prestige Michael Bartlett may garner when replacing Frank Parker on the-Jack Benny Jello air program, starting Sept. 29, Fanchon & Marco is setting back play dates of ‘She Married Her Boss’ (Col), in both Los Angeles and San Francisco until sometime in October. Bartlett is one of the leads in the pic and F&M, with Columbia agreeing, wants to get full value of any breaks.

JACK BENNY'S MISHAP
Series of Almost-Accidents Near Seattle
Seattle, Sept. 10.
(Daily Variety)
Accidents in Washington last week came near to claiming the lives of two radio performers. Jack Benny escaped death when the yacht on which he was pleasure cruising on Puget Sound caught fire and was totally demolished. Ken Stuart, KOL announcer and sports commentator, had a narrow one when the airplane in which he was flying over the Cascades went dead and a forced landing followed.
Benny, visiting friends in Seattle, his wife’s home town, gave an impromptu comedy performance to quiet fellow passengers’ fear, as the fire-racked yacht on which they had been cruising was rushed toward shore before gasoline tanks would explode. When the boat was grounded, Benny and his friends leaped into the water and waded ashore.

Ken Murray-Sam Hearn As CBS Comedy Team
A new comedy combination of Ken Murray and Sam Hearn is due to hit the Columbia network within the next fortnight. Bruce Carleton’s band will provide the musical background for the program.
Hearn is the dialect funster heard last year on Jack Benny's broadcasts.
Murray is star of ‘Sketch Book.’
Program produced by Roger White Radio Productions.

September 28, 1935
B’Way Melody of 1936
(MUSICAL)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release of a John W. Considine, Jr., production. Features Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor. Directed by Roy Del Ruth. Screenplay, Jack McGowan and Sid Silvers; from original by Moss Hart; additional dialog, Harry W. Conn; books, Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed; music direction, Alfred Newman; dances, Dave Gould; ballet, Albertina Rasch; camera, Charles Rosher; production asst., Alex Aarons. At Capitol, N. Y., week Sept. 16, ‘35. Running time, 102 mins.
Bert Keeler ......... Jack Benny
Irene Foster ........ Eleanor Powell
Bob Gordon ..... Robert Taylor
Kitty Corbett ........ Una Merkel
Snoop ......... Sid Slivers
Ted ............ Buddy Ebsen
Lillian Brent ...... June Knight
Sally .......... Vilma Ebsen
Basil ........... Nick Long, Jr.
Snorer ........... Robert Wildhock
Managing Editor ...... Paul Harvey
By Herself ............ Frances Langford
By Himself ........... Harry Stockwell
‘Broadway Melody of 1936’ will have no difficulties at the box office. Should do big businesa and will please in almost every respect, save the story. That’s thin and trite— a bit too pattern even for backstage stuff. Basically, plots wherein the hero has a pet brainchild to produce and the shero is starred therein, have become a bit dated.
But apart from that, ‘Broadway Melody’ has enough socko, glamour, spec, songs and general atmosphere to cinch it for money. It looks money and will get it. The glamour revolves principally about a new star in the making—Eleanor Powell. The spec is obvious; the Nacio Herb Brown-Arthur Freed songs already are having their effect on the public. The general, atmosphere is the lavishness of the production investiture with which Metro endowed this film. The entertainment ingredients are certainly there. Basically it’s the dancing. Coupled with it is comedy. With both, departments better than average, it can’t miss. That more than offsets the plot deficiencies.
Eleanor Powell is two other girls under the Roy Del Ruth directorial aegis. Formerly be-banged, she’s now a highly pulchritudinous charmer, possessed of no small vocal (via microphone) and histrionic talents. And of course her basic professional proficiency as a tapster is more or less standard in show business. Translated into camera values, it’s inevitable that she be termed a femme Astaire, for she’s possessed of the same nimble tread, finished precision and general adeptness in her stepology. The hoofing, probably new to the film fans in general, combined with an appealing new personality cinches her for cinematic future. Actually, this not her film debut, but her taps chore in the second ‘Scandals’ (Geo. White-Fox) was relatively so negligible that she’s probably new to most fans. Her bit om the Fox film was undistinguished.
Another cincher for celluloid is Robert Taylor whom Metro has been grooming. He arrives as a forthright screen juve with this picture.
Jack Benny (toplined) is the Broadway columnist who takes it on the button a couple of times from the irate Taylor. His stooge is Sid Silvers. But with the latter—who has also coupled with Jack McGowan on the screenplay—having scripted himself a juicy part, it’s a toss-up who’s head man on comedy. Benny’s usually decisive delivery is punchy, but it might be a good idea to give him an assignment which won’t let him wind up with an apple and the morning papers for the finale. He could stand a little romantic interest for future film values.
Everything revolves about Miss Powell, Taylor and June Knight, the menace. She's the Park avenue bankroll ($60,000) for the forthcoming musical comedy which results in routines that run true to screen form and look more like the b.r. had thrown its conscience away and gone berserk. But that’s long since become accepted as Hollywood license.
Columnist Benny had been building up a phoney French comedienne, and so when Taylor fails to recognize his adolescent sweetheart from Albany she (Miss Powell) essays an accent, bizarre make up and goals everybody with her personality and her stepping as the pseudo-French star. That’s done so effectively that the illusion becomes acceptable, even despite the mental reservations concerning the other plot incongruities.
Story as presented is a curious hodge-podge of fantasy, realism and just hokum musical comedy. When the Ebsens (Vilma and Buddy) are doing their ‘Sing Before Breakfast’ it's quite Rene Clair-ish in the whimsical mating of the tempo with the attic time-stepping. More of the Clair touch in the whisking of the papers off the city room’s desks as the irate Taylor breezes into the editorial sanctum to corporally chastise Benny. Then in other spots it goes Busby Berkeley with overhead ballet shots, or that sequence in what looks like the Rainbow Room at Radio City. On the other hand, there are many realistic bits that ring the bell. Sid Silvers gives his top screen contribution as comedy foil to Benny. The Ebsens are definite screen personalities, particularly the deliberately ungainly Buddy, who makes his hayseedishness an artistic chore. Nick Long, Jr., is another in the stepping department. Prominent in some effective hoofing, with the Misses Knight and Powell.
Frances Langford and Harry Stockwell from the Broadway niteries and radio are themselves, the latter introducing the old ‘Broadway Melody’ thematic into a WHN mike (WHN Is the Loew-Metro station in N. Y., hence the screen break). Miss Langford is more prominent vocally with ‘Lucky Star’ and ‘Broadway Rhythm,’ which, segues into an elaborate terp routine featuring Miss Powell.
The Ebsens register with the ‘Breakfast’ number and ‘Oh a Sunday Afternoon,’ a musical comedy number within this filmusical. In ‘Breakfast’ Miss Powell again has her tap opportunities. Una Merkel is per usual highly competent as the sympathetic sec to the producer (Taylor). Running through it all is Robert Wildhack with his standard revue routine about the various styles of snoring, interpreted academically and audibly. It’s funny at first, but a bit too much. Paul Harvey as the managing editor is also believable and some of the dialog concerning the Broadway chatter type of columnist sounds like the scriptists don’t think highly of the clan. This is physically cemented by the situations of socking the columnist and his stooge on the button twice in the same place.
Cutting was patently a yeoman job. The ragged sequences give that away. Although the Coast preview time screening of 110 minutes doesn’t differ much from the 102 at the Capitol on Broadway, there must have been considerable stuff chopped out.
Apart from throwing the budget sheet out of the window for ‘Broadway Melody,’ Producer John W. Considine, Jr., evidences good taste in administering the shekels. He is capably seconded by Roy Del Ruth on the direction; Cedric Gibbons’ sets and Chas. Rosher’s cinematography. Alex Aarons (ex-Broadway producer) is credited as a production assistant. Pop terps by Dave Gould and the artistic ballet by Albertina Rasch both evidence imagination and freshness of style, and the tiptop tapstering morel than bolsters the creative framework.
Songs are all good and potential hit timbre. ‘Broadway Rhythm,’ sung by Miss Langford and with dance specialties by Powell, Long, Knight and Ebsens, is the most pretentious terp routine. Gould, who staged ‘The Carioca’ and ‘Continental,’ has no such smash in this, but it’s a corking creation. ‘Lucky Star’s’ Rasch ballet is vocally introed by Langford. Harry Stockwell, besides the WHN intro scene, leads ‘On a Sunday Afternoon,’ which is really the Ebsens’ big terp opportunity in old-fashioned getup and terp style. ‘I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin,’ by Knight and Taylor is atop the Knight penthouse, which gives Nick Long, Jr., opportunities to essay a little architectural legerdermain as he abracadabras and whisks away columns, statutes and scenery, fantastically switching from one costume getup into another, all in line with the ‘Foolln’ idea. ‘Sing Before Breakfast’ is the Ebsens-Powell routine.
The same camera and production imagination evidenced in ‘Foolin’ has its charming vagaries in the scene where Miss Powell daydreams in the empty auditorium and imagines herself on the rostrum, clicking big. Harry Conn, Benny’s regular radio dialogician, credited for additional gab, evidences the mike skill of punchy, pithy phrasing.
‘Broadway Melody,’ in toto, is b.o. Abel

October 2, 1935
EXPLOITATION
By Epes W. Sargent
Booming ‘Melody’
Baltimore.
Herb Morgan, fugelman for Loew’s Century, walloped out a wow campaign for ‘Broadway Melody’ (MG), current at his charge.
Having Jack Benny in pic's cast, comic naturally suggested Jell-O; dealers stuck window strips on stores, gave theatre slugs in Jello grocery store newspaper ads and paid for huge greeting to Mayor of town which was fashioned out of Jello on huge scale and made by chef at local hostelry.
There's a song number labeled, ‘Sing Before Breakfast,’ and a line in lyrics mentioned Shredded Wheat, so National Biscuit Co., which manufactures the cereal arranged for displays in the Oriole Cafeterias here, first time these beaneries have been cracked in this manner; also eight trucks that tote Shredded Wheat to retailers here carried banners, plus 6,000 imprinted menus in eateries, and six full grocery store windows; National Biscuit went whole hog for tie-ups.
In co-op with local Hearst rag, Morgan secured contest for best amateur gal tapdancer, suggested by Eleanor Powell’s presence in pic; had articles on how to hoof in same sheet; and since sheet carries Winchell’s daily column, and he recently raved over Powell’s prancing in pic, paper consented to make a news story out of fact he raved. Sheet also went for pair of classified ad promotions.
Five music stores gave window space; one store distributed a herald made up as a piece of sheet music with each song sold. WCAO put on gratis a quarter-hour e.t. advertising the show; WBAL conducted a ‘Jack Benny gag’ contest; Stewart’s beauty shop went for a co-op ad; Diamond taxicabs carried bumper strips on hacks in return for ducats for each driver. A very neat touch, and original here, was achieved by inducing home offices here of the B. & O. r. r. to put a stamp advertising pic on each piece of mail sent out.

Living Billboard
St. Louis.
Jimmy Harris, p.a. at Loew’s State Theatre, should have been nabbed by cops on complaint of the Humane Society for one of the clever stunts he pulled in a great campaign for ‘Broadway Melody of 1936.’ He rigged a 24 sheet on top of theatre canopy and on opening day had a flock of girl students from a dance school do a routine number on a specially constructed stage. The dancers were flimsily costumed and a near gale blowing down Washington avenue nearly shredded the costumes and blew the dancers off the canopy. But they were as game as Harris and did the stunt all day and in the evening when the canopy was illuminated with huge spots from, top and sides of building.
In addition to this Harris got lots of free space in the daily rags, completed numerous tieups with local department stores, and grocery emporiums, sent out ballyhoo floats with 24s, flashy theatre front with pennants, flags, etc., orchestrations to all orks in city with plugs on picture when numbers were used.
Five thousand movie magazines passed but to patrons week in advance of showing through tieup with news agency. Harris tied up with Walgreen for large fountain displays and also with General Foods Company on Jell-O with Benny broadcasts on Sunday night. Secured distribution of 20,000 Jell-O circulars plugging picture and cost was borne by Jell-O. In co-operation with local department stores, had coiffure, dance shoe, hosiery and radio ads and topcoats featured by Benny.

JACK BENNY
With Michael Bartlett, Mary Livingtone, Don Wilson, Johnny Green’s Orch.
Comedy
30 Mins.
JELL-O
WJZ, New York
(Young & Rubicam)
Backed by a cast that at least equals and maybe excels his previous troupe, Jack Benny, in behalf of Jello, made an auspicious ‘35-’36 debut Sunday night. (29), There was good singing, fine music, and plenty of laughs on the show. It shouldn’t have any trouble picking up where it left off last season.
Harry Conn, who authors this program, seemingly has struck upon the happiest formula yet found for commercial comedy on the air. His use of oldies in the joke line is limited, and one per program is about the high average. Conn’s method is to first establish his characters, then build his laugh directly through or with the character itself, rather than through an outside source via an unconnected incident or pun.
An example on the first show was the creation of a series of five or six consecutive and legitimate laughs merely through mention of the name of the program’s new orchestra leader, Johnny Green. The results were obtained with no resorting to unrelated situations.
Where Conn also shines is in the blending of his writing style with the delivery of Jack Benny. No better example of perfect actor-writer mating is to be found in show business. Conn writes the way Benny talks, and vice versa.
Michael Bartlett, who succeeds Frank Parker on this show, has a better than even chance to become a radio name on his own. He can talk and he can sing. In the dialog department Green is also a satisfactory replacement for Don Bestor, and musically Green and his orchestra are aces. Mary Livingstone (Mrs. Benny) gets the best break in material allotment, as usual. But Benny, despite finishing on the short end in the distribution of punches, is the head man on the show, and there’s no mistaking it. Bige.

October 9, 1935
EXPLOITATION
By Epes W. Sargent
Collar Collectors
Omaha.
With ‘Broadway Melody of 1936,’ Ted Emerson of the Omaha theatre set out to outdo his campaign which helped 'China Seas' to a new house record.
Highlight was a tie-up which Emerson secured with a private home. Arranged to place a lighted display in the yard on the city’s busiest thoroughfare. First time this has been done here and due for plenty of notice froirii both local and touring motorists. This means virtually a 24-sheet spotted to catch the heaviest traffic away from a business corner. Nothing to detract from it.
On top of this ‘Melody’ is the first picture to benefit from a tie-up with Meadow Gold dairy who will place a collar on each bottle of milk advertising the Omahas current picture. Come-on for the milk consumer is supplied in an offer of a free pass to the theatre for each 50 collars co1lected. Offer to run till Jan. 1.
Besides these two unusual hook-ups Emerson put special effort on theatre front, notice in dance halls, hotels and restaurants, and department store, fashion, departments. Through the Jack Benny-Jell-o combination some 400 grocery store tie-ups were used with four special downtown windows given to the window.
Eddie Butler, the KOIL piano-organist, lent a hand to give a musical background from the Orpheum organ for all the announcements referring to the Omaha picture. Lastly Emerson tied-in with Creighton Uni to put on a cheering spree from the stage the night before the school’s football game.

Cantor’s Slant
Editor Variety:
Fifteen or 20 newspapers (Commented on certain similarities in the programs of Jack Benny, Phil Baker and mine of last Sunday (28). Variety did, too, and they were all surprised.
But why the surprise? Benny, Baker and their authors are very much alive as to what constitutes things topical. My authors and I know that Fred Astaire, Major Bowes and the Baer-Louis fight are of current interest.
Next Sunday it would be a disappointment to our fans if Benny, Baker and I didn’t make mention of the World Series.
I notice that this week almost all the newspapers are carrying the conflict in Ethiopia, and I'm not surprised!
Of course, Jack Benny gets in the first wallop, but I am consoled in the fact that I go on ahead of him in the west. Baker's program doesn’t come to the Coast at all.
So from now on you can be reasonably sure that on Hallowe’en there will be Hallowe’en jokes by three Sunday night comics; that Christmas will find three Santa Clauses—one at 7 p. m., E.S.T.; one at 7:30, and Santa Cantor at 8.
Eddie Cantor
(Late of Gus Edwards’ ‘Kid Kabaret’).
The topical joke line of patter in the adjoining Jack Benny and Phil Baker stanzas for the second time resulted in some repeaters last Sunday eve (6).
Both crossed each other up especially on gags anent the Baer-Louis fight. Cracked Mary Livingstone: ‘Get up off your knee; you look like Maxie Baer.’ Dittoed Phil Baker to Bottle: ‘Get up off the floor; you look like Maxie Baer down there.’

October 16, 1935
Harris Wants Benny
Sam H. Harris has been after Jack Benny for ‘Sing Before Breakfast.’
While Benny has a stage yen, after his protracted radio and screen engagements, his Metro contract is holding him up.
Benny also has a number of Coast weeks of personal apps set, but for the same Metro film reason he can’t handle them.

October 23, 1935 (Daily)
Benny Snaring Reagan
General Foods Sales sponsoring Jack Benny program over NBC Monday auditioned number of vocalists to replace Michael Bartlett on show.
Phil Reagan, under contract to Warners, is said to be most likely candidate for the spot.

October 30, 1935
Benny Stays West For Airing, Awaits Next Metro Picture
Hollywood, Oct. 29.
Instead of returning to New York after his eighth broadcast as planned. Jack Benny will probably remain here throughout the winter. Benny has turned down Sam Harris’ offer to star in the legit comedy, ‘Sing Before Breakfast,’ scheduled for Broadway production in January.
Metro is planning another picture for Benny pronto, the second on his two-picture deal, ‘It’s in the Air,’ second picture to be made by Benny on his return to pictures, was a single picture deal outside of his contract. Benny personally is paying the line charges on his air program in order to remain here.

Regan’s High (Bank) Notes
Hollywood, Oct. 29.
Deal for Phil Regan to replace Michael Bartlett as vocalist on the Jack Benny program fell through when Irish canary set his figure too high for remaining broadcasts.
No successor yet, although both agency said National Broadcasting company holding auditions.

AFM’S H’WOOD STUDIO, AIR RULINGS
Hollywood, Oct. 29
New regulations governing radio and picture studio musicians under Local 47 of the American Federation of Musicians goes into effect today, whereby the maximum earnings of the men cannot exceed $77.50 a week.
Rule provides that if a member works two or more broadcasts a week he cannot take a picture studio job that week.
Members cannot accept sideline or atmosphere engagements in studios for any instrument they are not qualified to play and are registered with the union as playing it. If they violate this rule, they are prohibited from taking studio jobs.
Officers of Local 47 are directing the studios attention to the expulsion from N. Y, Local 802 of Don Bestor, with a $1,000 fine, for allegedly paying below scale the men on the Jack Benny-Jello program after evidence showed that Bestor was paid by the sponsor over the scale for the engagement.

Bartlett Off Jello
Michael Bartlett, tenor on the Jack Benny Jello show, out following last Sunday's program (27). He goes into Grace Moore’s forthcoming film ‘Cissy’ (Col), and will later go to London to play for operetta.
Kenny Baker, winner of the Eddie Duchin open contest in Los Angeles, pinch hitting next Sunday. Not definite whether his appearance is a singleton or whether he will continue in the spot.

November 6, 1935
Radio Follow-Ups
Jack Benny’s programs are the most consistently good of the ace funsters. His last Sunday’s session introed a new tenor, Kenny Baker, with a faltering, apologetic, dialogic style that counted for much on the comedy returns. In addition he whammed with ‘The Rose in Her Hair.’
The Italian comic barber consummates a radio idea that a good spaghetti comedian would go well on the air, and be different. Benny’s suave idea of kidding the plug, and artfully self-kidding himself for dragging it in by the heels, is one of the most effective of that type of ether ballyhoo.
The Hollywood casting satire was not without its points, if a bit repetitious, although the manner of presentation bolstered it considerably.
LeMaire, Van Dyke and other Metro names were bandied about in this sequence.

Ken Baker on Jello
Hollywood, Nov. 5.
Kenny Baker gets the vocal spot with Jack Benny on the Jello broadcast for the remaining seven weeks of the contract before option time.
Young & Rubicam agency okayed the tenor after a trial last Sunday (3).

November 13, 1935
IT'S IN THE AIR
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release of a Harry Ralph production. Stars Jack Benny. Features Ted Healy, Una Merkel, Nat Pendleton, Mary Carlisle. Directed by Charles P. Riesner, Byron Morgan, Lou Lipton, story and screen play; Ches. Schoenbaum, camera; William Gray, film editor. At Astor, N. Y., week Nov. 7, 1935, Running time, 80 mins.
Calvin ....... Jank Benny
“Olin” ....... Ted Healy
Alice ......... Una Merkel
Henry Potke ....... Nat Pendleton
Grace ......... Mary Carlisle
W. R. Gridley ........ Grant Mitchell
Sidney Kendall ..... Harvey Stephens
About 18 minutes of fast comedy in a stratosphere gondola, but it takes 60 minutes to get to that point. Mechanical punch of the air cruiser is not enough to carry the previous hour of leisurely paced development, first quarter hour largely being a demonstration of a fact which could halve been told with a minute of dialogue. Picture will not figure importantly for gross.
Jack Benny is a sure-thing gambler, so his wife leaves him. He wants to go straight, pay up his income tax and win her back. He gives the slip to Nat Pendleton, the internal revenue agent, and gets to Desert Springs, where his wife is staying, through a pretended intention of making a stratosphere flight. He gets backing from a number of advertisers and forces Ted Healy to go along. Pendleton horns in to watch his captive, but bails out when the ship rises. The stratosphere balloon bursts but they make a safe landing, the government gives him an okay, and he gets his bride back.
Shots of the balloon and interior of the gondola are excellently done, and here the fun is fast. Benny moves through his assignment smoothly and with assurance, and again practically as a straight man.
Most of the comedy by Healy and Pendleton, both coming through with flying colors. Una Merkel plays straight and well. Mary Carlisle, the secondary woman, gets quite a bit from a small part. The rest are mostly along for the ride. Chic.

November 20, 1935
Metro Would Hold Benny
Hollywood, Nov. 19.
Metro is talking a straight two-year ticket to Jack Benny.
It would start on completion of the comic’s next which winds up his two picture deal.

November 27, 1935
CBS PLACES 4 IN CROSSLEY’S FIRST 10
For the first time since the inception of the checking service CBS has four out of the first 10 shows in the latest edition of the Crossley Reports. These programs are Burns and Allen (Campbell Tomato Juice), Lux Theatre, Hollywood Hotel (Campbell Soup), and Eddie Cantor (Pebeco). Others in the top 10 rating are Major Bowes, Jack Benny, Rudy Vallee Varieties, Maxwell House Showboat, Fred Allen and Paul Whiteman Music Hall.

Benny at L. A. Par
Hollywood, Nov. 26.
Jack Benny and Margaret Livingston (Mrs. Benny) will play a week’s engagement at the downtown Paramount, Dec. 5.
Then jump to the Orpheum, San Francisco.

December 4, 1935
KATZ’S 8 MUSIC PIX SKED AT MG
Hollywood, Dec. 3.
Metro has elated eight musicals for production by the Sam Katz unit during the coming year. First is the Jessie Matthews picture, co-starring with Robert Montgomery, starting in February. Others in the cast are Sid Silvers, Clifton Webb, Una Merkel, Judy Garland and Robert Wilkhack.
Second will be ‘Hats in the Air,’ for Eleanor Powell; story by Dwight Taylor, Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with George Murphy, Franchot Tone, Sid Silvers and Una Merkel in the cast. Third will be a new ‘Broadway Melody,’ being written by Sid Silvers and Jack McGowan, with Igor Gorin, Silvers and George Murphy set for cast. Next will be a revue based on ‘As Thousands Cheer.’ Cole Porter will do the music and lyrics and Jack Benny will probably be the top male name. Katz is looking for material for the other four musicals.
Metro is dickering for the purchase of ‘Lady Fingers,’ musical by Eddie Buzzell and Owen Davis, produced in New York 12 years ago.

EXPLOITATION
By Epes W. Sargent
Jelling Jello
Spartanburg, S. C.
Carolina at Greenville tied up ‘Broadway Melody,’ starring Jack Benny with local Jell-O exploitation. A 5-col. advt. in local morning and evening editions and spotted near theatre advt. on amusements page, announced the stunt—a numbers proposition. Several numbers were posted daily on billboard in theatre lobby and corresponding numbers were put on slips of paper which were inserted in Jell-O packages on sale in 15 stores in Greenville.
Purchasers of Jell-O package containing slip with proper number drew a pass to the show—and a lot of them did. A check-up reveals local Jell-O sales almost trebled during three days’ film ran, and interest in picture was considerably increased. Star cuts and scenes from film were used in advt. spreads paid for by Jell-O, and 100% gravy to the theatre.

90 Min. Star Studded Air Show Christens NBC Hollywood Studio
Hollywood, Dec. 3.
National Broadcasting gives out with 90 minute special program Saturday (7) to dedicate new studio on Melrose avenue. With exception of greeting from David Sarnoff, NBC board chairman, in New York, and a musical hello from Ruth Etting in Honolulu, entire show will be produced here by Cecil Underwood.
From the home office for the christening have come Merlin H. Aylesworth, NBC. prez.; John Royal, vice president in charge of programs; Richard Patterson, executive vice prez.; David Rosenbloom, treasurer, and O. B. Hanson, chief engineer. Execs and Will Hays, giving a salute for the film producers, will be on the speaker's dais.
In the talent lineup will be Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Jack Benny, Edgar Guest, Marion Talley, Nelson Eddy; Ann Jamieson, Phil Regan and Gladys Swarthout. Taking turns at wafting the baton will be Meredyth Wilson, Johnny Green, Victor Young and Josef Pasternack.
Don Wilson, Jimmy Wallington and Sam Hayes will alternate the emceeing. All star show hits all web’s outlets at 7:30 P. M.

Radio Chatter
California
Jack Benny tossed off two sheets at a time at last week's Jello broadcast but did a slick piece of ad libbing and dialers were none the wiser.

December 11, 1935
PARAMOUNT, L. A.
Los Angeles, Dec. 6.
Jack Benny is back in his old environment, emceeing the stage show at the Paramount currently, only in this instance show is mostly Benny—and Mary Livingstone. Pair doing a sure-fire mopup, with opening day customers relishing every bit of their offering. It’s first appearance of comic at the Paramount in about nine years, although he's been at the Orpheum here frequently since then.
Aside from an opening routine by the Fanchonettes, who offer a tap, a la ‘Truckln,’ plus Tony Martin, baritone from pictures, and the Three Chicken Sisters, Benny and Miss Livingstone do bulk of the entertaining.
Comic drew a spontaneous ovation on initial appearance and all of his efforts were liberally rewarded. He gags his way through, and finale has him trying to do a violin solo as picture sheet is dropped back of him for the next feature.
Introduced early, Miss Livingstone does a poem about Los Angeles that's a darb. A little later she’s back for a comedy scene with Martin, the warbler, that’s good for howls, and after that for a song number that registers solidly.
Martin, personable lad, uncorks a fine pair of pipes, and his four numbers were much appreciated. Benny doesn’t miss the opportunity to gag his radio sponsor; tries out his hand at batoning the house band and clowns with the three Chickens. Trio is comprised of Blanche Stewart, Doris Toddings and Kay Deslys, with first named a standout.
Towards close of act band moves from pit to stage, with Dion Romande, maestro, demonstrating to Benny just what it takes to properly conduct. Benny gags Ted Lewis, then goes into his violin bit as the sheet falls.
Act is mostly hoke, but typical Benny material, and scored solidly at opening performance. Screen feature is ‘Millions In the Air’ (Par) with Popeye cartoon, pictorial and Paramount News. Trade at first matinee good. Edwa.

NBC HOLLYWOOD STUDIO DEDICATION
All Star Revue
2 hrs., 30 mins.
Sustaining
KFI; Los Angeles
Network pushed off its new half million dollar studio with an air opus that ran the gamut.
Al Jolson kept the show moving. He was in top form both in voice and wit. His biggest laugh came when he ribbed Will Hays for his overlong oration. Pretending to phone Ruby (his wife) he gibed, ‘if there’s any more speeches like Will Hays don't look for me home before New Year's eve. And, Will Hays, if you’re listening, I mean it.’
Hays got in a strong plug for his bosses by saying ‘pictures are still the finest entertainment in the world.’ Also a curtesy [sic] to the administration that ‘all’s well with the U. S., and all we need is a little more patience.’
After an introductory, ‘Hollywood,’ backed up by a mixed chorus, Meredith Wilson batoned his own arrangement of ‘Dardanella.’ Bing Crosby, eager for an early getaway, crooned ‘Treasure Island,’ with Victor Young on the dais. Jolson passed the emceeing along to Don Wilson who brought in Edgar Guest for a half column on the miracle of radio.
Expert timing by Cecil Underwood, Coast production manager, kept the show on an even keel and paved the way for a band number, Nathaniel Shilkret conducting Studio ork in his own composition, ‘Syncopated Love Song.’ Marion Talley then soared into the stratosphere with ‘The Wren.’ Bill Robinson did a tap specialty which took care of the novelty end.
After Richard C. Patterson, web’s exec vice prez., passed out back slaps for everyone concerned with setting up of studio, Jolson gave way to Jimmy Wallington, who bowed in Johnny Green doing a medley of songs he composed. Then to Baltimore for Jimmy Melton. President M. H. Aylesworth called the plant the most modern in the world, said that the inaugural launched a new understanding between radio and pictures, and then the Hays marathon began.
Gladys Swarthout poured out a ditty and read from her bosses, Messrs. Otterson, Lubitsch and Herzbrun of Paramount. Controls switched to Pittsburgh for Rudy Vallee and then to New York for Ben Bernie. Irene Rich paid a tender tribute to Thomas Meighan and Ruth Etting carolled a cleffer from Hawaii. From Chicago John Charles Thomas gave out with two numbers and bid his mother good night.
Tearful eulogy to Will Rogers, Marie Dressler and other troupers who have passed on was paid by May Robson and Jolson. Jack Benny went straight for his bit and for his pains drew from Jolson a chide that he was reading the second part of Hays’ speech. Grantland Rice followed with a golf gag, Jolson drawing out of him the prediction that Stanford is in for a nice pasting from Southern Methodist. Phil Regan tenored a tune, but not before Patsy Flick did a dialect bit.
Harry Jackson swung the stick on a number and then to London, which provided the program’s only static. Didn’t come through so forte although Roscoe Ates struggled manfully to provide a few stuttering quips. Songs were wet from their ocean trip. Paul Whiteman and Jimmy Durante overcame a noisy crowd.
Jimmy Fidler cut short his Hollywood gossip, called the affair a 4-bell premiere. Ann Jamieson did a neat warble of ‘Through the Years.’ Sam Hayes let go a salvo of rapid-fire congrats and Young brought the show to a close with a potpourri of his own tunes.
This program will have to do until a better one comes alone. Helm.

December 25, 1935
Inside Stuff—Radio
San Francisco had a taste of the ticket demand experienced in New York and Hollywood broadcasting plants. For the two Sunday broadcasts with Jack Benny and his Jello gang, all here In person, everybody in San Francisco seemed set on getting on the ducat list. NBC headquarters received more than 7,000 letters requesting the pasteboards. Sponsor was swamped by advertising agencies, the press and every one who thought he had any kind of a drag.
Net result: About 600 persons made the grade for each performance. Jello company is said to have found it necessary to send out 22,000 letters to Jello consumers, explaining their difficulty in trying to take care of the demand.

2 comments:

  1. It would be interesting to hear that WGN broadcast that Jack sabotaged by mentioning the Chicago Tribune's competitor. It's not a side of Benny's persona you get to hear about all that often.

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  2. Sam Hearn was a close friend of Jack's for generations; he made one final appearance as "Shlepperman" in his November 1963 episode with Jayne Mansfield.

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