Sunday, 3 January 2016
Jack Benny, 1936
The other was the departure of Jack’s writer, Harry Conn. Variety casually mentioned Conn was off the Benny show because he was sick. He was sick, alright. Sick of not getting credit, sick of Jack Benny getting all the glory, sick of not being recognised as the man who (in his mind) made Jack Benny. Events bore out how wrong Conn was. Conn may have devised the Benny format, copied by countless other radio stars, but he wasn’t the master of it. He never duplicated his success with other comedians, nor himself in a failed attempted at radio stardom, after he left Benny. Jack, on the other hand, brought in other writers who honed his show to perfection. The Benny show people remember came long after Conn’s departure. By the late ‘50s, Conn was reduced to work as a theatre doorman, planning a comeback that never happened.
Stories about Jack that year in Daily Variety in Hollywood concentrated mainly on his film work, while Weekly Variety from New York focused on his radio and stage appearances. He certainly was a busy man. In between Sunday night radio appearances, he raked in very good money on stage. We haven’t transcribed all the stories involving stage and screen, but what you see below is a pretty good representation.
An interesting reference below is to Al Birnes and Vi Kaye “of the Jello show.” Birnes was a headliner at the Palace in 1919; I was under the impression he was Babe Marks’ first husband. Vi Kaye may be Violet Klein, who was occasionally in the show’s supporting cast in the mid-‘30s. Just a wild guess.
Daily Variety, incidentally, featured a column aimed at women about fashions and children. You’ll notice a number of short squibs and anecdotes from it below.
January 6, 1936
Gals and Gab
Jack Benny denying he and Mary are planning a party for their ninth anniversary . . he'll leave it to somebody else to give a party . . .
January 8, 1936
Joe Caites, formerly in vaude with his brother, doing bits in the Jack Benny broadcast.
January 10, 1936
ITO Pitches Big Gala at Circle, Takes $ 3,400
Second annual gala show of Independent Theatre Owners of Southern California was staged at the Carthay Circle last night. Box office take ran close to $ 3,400.
Show got underway about 10:30 with screening of Walt Disney's 'Mickey's Polo Game,' followed by Pete Smith Audiscope. Jack Benny handled m.c. work with Al Lyons and his band and Judy Starr and the Fanchonettes from the downtown Paramount, Magic Boat, unit show and others on stage. Preview of Samuel Goldwyn's latest Eddie Cantor picture 'Strike Me Pink' was given at 12:30.
January 15, 1936
Jack Benny Easting On 3 Mos. of p. a.'s—
With three months of personals in offing, Jack Benny will duck east in next three weeks. Intention was to play northwest but territory will be skipped.
Benny has another picture to make on Metro deal. Plans are to put him in 'As Thousands Cheer ready around April. Broadcasts will originate enroute of p. a.'s
January 16, 1936
Kenny Baker will unveil the new Johnny Green number, ‘Night Is Beginning,’ on the Jack Benny broadcast Jan. 26. Gus Kahn did the lyrics.
January 18, 1936
Jack Benny, who loves to have Mary Livingstone with him everywhere he goes, is now training every morning with a chap who runs him all over Hollywood's hills and then gives him a strenuous work out. Each morning Jack wants Mary to get up and look out of the window to see him running up and down the hilly street. Other day, he called to her to 'come—watch this.' Just then the trainer sent the medicine ball over and it caught Jack on the chest and bounced him to the ground. Mary's been sleeping in since then.
January 25, 1936
Big Name Array For Mt. Sinai Benefit Tonite—
Greatest array of names from pictures, radio and the stage will participate in the Dick Powell-Jack Benny all star show for the benefit of the Mount Sinai Home for lnvalids at Shrine auditorium tonight. More than 100 artists have already consented to appear.
January 29, 1936
BENNY UNIT'S 9 WEEKS AT $12,500
Jack Benny and Mary Livingston (Mrs. Benny), in a unit whose renaming personnel is yet to be set, have been booked for nine weeks in vaude. Total cost of the show will be $12,500 net, with the Lyons office setting the deals.
Unit opens at the State, Cleveland, week of Feb. 21, Loew's resuming stage shows at the house just for the one week. Show then goes to the Stanley, Pittsburgh; State, New York; Fox, Washington; Century, Baltimore; Earle, Philadelphia; Metropolitan, Boston; Fox, Detroit, and winds up its tour at the Chicago, Chicago, week of May 15. Five of the nine weeks are for Loew.
Benny's Sunday night broadcasts over the NBC network will be aired from each town he plays on the p.a route.
January 30, 1936
Mrs. Jack Benny (Mary Livingstone) looking fashion picture in a dark gray tailored suit with crystal-topped bag of same material and wearing white blouse clipped with star sapphires which were Jack's anniversary present to her, hostessing a farewell party at Arthur Lyons' home, and worrying about rehearsal. It's Jack's idea that rehearsal time should be changed as to allow him to get to races. Someone suggested they rehearse at the track but Jack vetoed that. “Would not do, 'cause if your horse didn't come in you'd give a bad performance,” says he. “Best thing to do is to get up early Saturday morning and get it over.” “I could just rehearse Sunday, in that case, couldn't I?” begged Mary. “Why, Mary, the way you do dialog, I don't see why you should need any rehearsal,” ribbed Jack.
February 1, 1936
Conns East for Benny
Mr and Mrs Harry Conn left here last night for New York where Conn w i l l arrange for arrival of Jack Benny and his troupe there next week.
Benny menage will broadcast and do p.a.'s throughout the cast for the next three months.
February 5, 1936
Hoof to Hoof
Score from Republic's ‘Dancing Feet’ will be aired by Johnny Green on Jack Benny's Jello broadcast Feb. 16. Sam Stept and Sidney Mitchell dished up the tunes.
February 12, 1936
Not that any of the lads are slipping, but some of the toppers are helping each other out. Rudy Vallee will be on Cantor's program next Sunday and Jack Benny does a turn in Fred Allen's Town Hall tonight.
Myrt Blum, Coast agent, couldn't take it any longer in Chicago. Had to stop off and buy a heavy ulster to cope with the eastern bliz. Came east with the Jack Bennys and will stay around a couple of weeks.
February 14, 1936
Jack Benny Off Air Sunday (16) Due to Grippe
New York, Feb 13—Stricken with the grippe, Jack Benny probably will not broadcast his regular program over National Broadcasting network Sunday night. Emergency musical show composed of Green's orchestra and specialties will be substituted for one airing.
Benny's scheduled personal at the State, Cleveland, week of Feb. 21 also has been cancelled. Unit opens instead at Stanley. Pittsburgh, Feb. 28.
[Note: the radio show went ahead with Jack].
February 25, 1936
Kenny Baker Optioned
Kenny Baker now in Jack Benny's 'Jello' radio programs, has had option taken up for six months.
February 26, 1936
Don Wilson and Harry Conn, both Bennyites, are now the oat-providers for Clark Cable's 'Pegasus.' Tis a race horse the boys bought.
JACK BENNY UNIT
Pittsburgh, Feb. 23.
At beginning of his p. a. swing last season—also in Pittsburgh—Jack Benny discovered a sock unit formula and has wisely decided to stick by it. Air comic's present layout is practically the same, with a couple of variations, and it's smash entertainment from start to finish.
Gets off to nice start with some eye-filling modernistic stuff by Stuart Morgan dancers, and then Benny steps out in 'one' and from there on even a sensitive microscope would Have trouble detecting a listness moment. After a short session of wisecracks he brings on Mary Livingstone, and big hand indicates the missus is still an important cog in the Benny works.
Georges Metaxa does a swell “Alone” after a few preliminary gags with Benny, and then latter is on again with Benny and Mary in a funny bit. Metaxa winds up with 'When a Gypsy Makes His Violin Play,' which brings on Benny again at the finish in gypsy rig for more screams.
Benny is around practically every minute and that trigger-mind of his is always busy. He's shrewd enough not to take any chances and whole unit shows the wisdom of his astuteness. After Metaxa, he actually gets through a fiddle solo and then tops It with a phony dramatic recitation about young girls and their mothers and the facts of life. On the heels of this, he announces he has three gals seeking an opportunity on one of his talent quests and that's the cue for the Chicken Sisters. Dead-pan girls repeat their riot of last year and tie up the proceedings.
For a finish Benny has another sock, not quite, however, up to last season's stunt when, after trying to play the fiddle all through the performance, he finally got out onto the apron and got through the first couple of bars only to have the screen curtain go down on him and the flicker start. This time he has the Liazeed Arabs and after they've gone through some brisk tumbling, on dances Benny in the same getup and horns in on their pyramid bit while they proceed oblivious of his presence. Finally he lies down on the floor, disgusted, and lets them go ahead.
Then Benny dances off into the wings as if to make ready to whirl across the floor and hotfoots it back of the curtain to the other side while one of the Arabs does the tumbling for him. It's a variation, but a strong laugh curtain. Practicality nothing Benny can do to improve on this layout. It's bullet proof right now. Cohen.
Fields Takes Bath, Stops Creditors from Hounding Comeback
The page in contemporary show history which is being written by Benny Fields, who is matting a comeback (which is paradoxical to show business because all of a sudden this vet songster is being 'discovered') has forced Fields and Blossom Seeley, his wife, to file individual petitions in voluntary bankruptcy. Staging his comeback after series of tough breaks, which his intimates were cognizant of, Fields found himself harrassed almost from the second day after his opening at the Hollywood cabaret-restaurant on Broadway, with creditors dunning him on old accounts.
One of these items is for $8,000 to Mme. Frances, the couturier, with whom, Fields avers, his wife had spent many thousands. Miss Seeley lists Mme, Frances, Inc., for $2,000, and Frances & Co., Dressmakers, Inc., for $6,000. These items constitute her sole liabilities. There is the usual $250 exempt valuation for personal wearing apparel, which constitutes her sole assets.
Both reside at the Hotel Warwick.
Fields' liabilities total $13,661 and $250 assets, valuation of personal apparel. Among the creditors are Goodman Ace (Easy Aces); Jack Benny, $1,500; Ruth Etting, $500; George Burns (and Allen), $500, and Park Central hotel, $1,000, etc.
Long a standard team, with the breaks against them, Fields went to Chicago as a single working in joints solo because latter couldn't afford a two-act especially jeopardizing the reputation of Blossom Seeley. Finally he got into the swank Chez Paree there. His Broadway comeback is the current big noise of the main stem.
March 10, 1936
Jack Benny due back [in Los Angeles] in May, followed by Ben Bernie month later.
March 11, 1936
BENNY HIS OWN OPPOSISH IN BALTO
Baltimore, March 20.
Jack Benny will broadcast from here when he plays Loews Century week of March 20. Airing will probably be from the old legit Auditorium, Jello (his radio sponsor) distributors having virtually closed a deal for the theatre for the night of March 27.
It will be the first time in this town that a radio name will play opposition to himself, by giving a free broadcast in one house and playing to paid audiences at another same evening. Besides this, Loew's Century will also advertise Jello in its newspaper copy on Benny's appearance.
Benny's unit, including Mary Livingston, Stuart Morgan Dancers, Georges Metaxa and the Liazeed Arabs, will get $12,500 net for the week at the Century.
Among the Women
By The Skirt
Best dressed woman of the week:
The personal appearance or Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone will probably hang up more records for the State. Benny looks swell in a grey suit and green tie. Miss Livingstone wears a ducky dress of a material combining red and gold, made perfectly plain but for a gold ascot tie. She appears later in a ravishing gown of a shiny black lace made long with a full flounce. There is no trimming, the diamond brooch and bracelets adding much to this costume.
The cards at the side of the stage carry the name of Jack Benny, not changing for the several acts appearing. Show is a unit. There is an adagio act, three men and a girl. The girl is in a union suit of white with silver bolero. A trio of girls are in blue and pink. And an Arab troupe wears picturesque, green with white capes lined with red. Picture this week is 'Anything Goes' with the well dressed Ethel Merman.
In the audience, at the show caught, sat Ed Sullivan, a much interested spectator. Dropped in, probably, to watch his own record at this house, set New Year week, broken for a second time.
VACATIONS FOR COMICS
Jack Benny and Fred Allen Relax in June for 13 Weeks
Both Jack Benny and Fred Allen will take a 13-week vacation from their respective air shows in June. Spot in either case on NBC will be retained.
No decision has been made on the program that will go in in place of Benny, while the entertainment setup that will sub for Allen has been worked out but is awaiting the okay of the client, Bristol-Myers. Both programs are controlled by the Young & Rubicam agency.
March 17, 1936
Jack Benny Nailed For Par Starring In ‘Broadcast’—
Paramount is signing Jack Benny to star in ‘Big Broadcast of 1937,’ which Lew Gensler produces. Deal, negotiated in New York, gives company option on Benny's services for two additional pictures.
Comedian is slated to come to coast this summer to appear in ‘Big Broadcast,’ returning to New York in September.
March 18, 1936
Benny P. A. With ‘Bugle’ to $23,000, ‘Desire’ 18G, Cap
Washington, March 17.
(Best Exploitation: Fox)
Town sailing along merrily despite beautiful weather and Lent. Latter hasn't had any appreciable effect on b.o. since it set in, with houses offsetting it with ace pictures.
Fox is out in front with Jack Benny on the stage. Earle was fearful of 'Desire,' but pic will wind up with at least average gross.
Belasco is experimenting with revivals again and doing well. 'Arrowsmith' will give local arty-foreign film spot better than average return.
Best exploitation honors go to Fox for campaign on Benny, including tie-ups with 300 grocery stores and record number of co-op ads in dailies.
March 25, 1936
Sam 'Schlepperman' Hearn, held by possibility of retakes on Par pic, unable to join Jack Benny in Baltimore.
Gulf's Summer Show
Good Gulf has handed the Phil Baker show a 23-week renewal up to June 21 for the remainder of the season and will come back with it in the fall for 39 more, commencing Sept. 21.
For the intervening 13 summer weeks the oil sponsor will retain Its CBS Sunday night spot with a straight musical show consisting of Hal Kemp's orchestra and the Seven G's.
June 21 is the final hot weather date for the Jack Benny show as wail as Phil Baker's, and both return to the air the same night next season.
Benny's Free Broadcasts at Auditorium Hurt Unit Biz; $18,500, Red, in Balto
Baltimore, March 24.
(Best Exploitation: Hipp)
‘Lonesome Pine’ at Keith's got off at a gallop and is soaring up to socko $10,000, which will be one of the finest weeks the house has had this season. H.o. is assured.
Quite a surprise is the unsteadiness of the vaudfilm Century. ‘Bugle Ann’ on screen isn't drawing, but house counted on the Jack Benny unit for business. Benny took a cut this week for Balto, getting $8,500 instead of the usual $12,500. With indications of an $18,500 gross, that means red for the house. Start was slow, with first buildup Sunday matinee. That evening biz was brutal, since Benny aired two broadcasts from the legit Auditorium. There was so much local interest in the broadcasts many people seemed to think he was not playing Century all the evening shows; the phone switchboard buzzed all day with public inquiries as to who was replacing him at Century during his broadcasts. That Query was understandable since most radio names skip to New York for their airings when playing here, thus missing a few performances. Biz spurted a trifle yesterday (Monday) but the poor start keeps the chances down.
April 1, 1936
BUFFALO YELPS FOR NBC BLUE CONTINUE
Buffalo merchants evidently mean to fight for an NBC Blue outlet here. R. V. Lawes, New York state rep for Bourjois, is armed with a petition signed by representatives of town's leading downtown stores asking network how about it? Copies go to Lord & Thomas. ...
Yourtg & Rubicam have made efforts in the past to get a Buffalo outlet for Jack Benny's programs, but with NBC it has always been no dice.
LOEW MAY TAKE RKO'S ‘COMIQUE’ AT $7,500
RKO is peddling its ‘Folies Comique’ unit, current in Boston, to the other major circuits at a reported $7,500 net weekly. Loew's is dickering to play the show in Washington, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Following Boston ‘Folies Comique’ is set for two weeks, at the Palace, Cleveland, opening April 3. This date, however, may be cut down to only one week because of Loew's booking of the Jack Benny show in that town April 10. RKO figures the Benny opposish may be too tough for ‘Folies’ in its second stanza. Benny originally was set for the Earle, Philadelphia, week of April 10, but that date was moved back.
April 8, 1936
Harry W. Conn Ill
Jack Benny is doubling temporarily as actor and author, due to the illness of his script writer, Harry W. Conn. Benny wrote the Sunday (5) Jello (NBC) show after Conn, was taken ill during the week.
Conn is recuping at Pinehurst, N. C. Benny will continue writing the program until he returns.
Sponsors Pout Stooges Rule Radio, But Conn Doesn't Worry Anymore
By CECELIA AGER
When radio comedy writers say there's nothing new under the sun, that there's only original jokes anyway—they're dodging. That's the cover-up for a run to their files, says Harry W. Conn, who has written 217 broadcasts for Jack Benny alone, and who has no files.
‘Instead of worrying about tailoring their material to the actors they're writing it for, those fellows are worrying about joke points. Everybody's got the same jokes in his files, so programs written from the files are all alike. They all come out the same rehashing. Some may seem better than others, but it's only the actors who are better. The material's the same.’
Conn—so utterly file-less himself he couldn't find even his own press clippings when he wanted to show them to an interviewers—happens to know for a fact that there are new jokes, because he's made up some himself. ‘I’ve written more than 20 jokes about the Quintuplets; the whole world admits there never was a situation like the Quintuplets before,’ he said.
‘Or take the Empire State Building. When the depression was on I thought up a joke about a man jumping out of a window of the Empire State. ‘My uncle just jumped off the Empire State Building,’ a man says to another guy. ‘Was he killed?’ asked the other guy. ‘I don't know,’ says the first man, ‘I just got a wire he lands tomorrow.’ You can't pin that one on the Eiffel Tower, and you can't say it started with the Tower of Babel. They didn't have windows to jump out of.’ Indeed, there have been so many new inventions in the last 30 years which have inspired jokes, points out Mr. Conn, that that whole ‘nothing new under the sun’ alibi is pretty shoddy.
But it isn’t the jokes he's written for the air that Mr. Conn's proudest of. He speaks of them only to prove that it can be done. What it really takes to be a writer for radio, he says, is a hokum vein. The kind of slant that, when you're looking at ‘The Children’s Hour,’ or ‘Tobacco Road,’ for example, keeps you from accepting them as mere straight drama. It keeps pointing out to you, 'There's a good gag there,' or 'now here's a swell spot for a twist.'
You've got to be a humorist; a gag man. You've got to have Broadway experience. You've got to know the tricks that wring laughter. Fully 30% of the effectiveness of a broadcast depends on tricks, he says. Like taking a simple, straightforward line and playing it a different way, giving it a different reading, a different accent. Like taking advantage of the 'cuteness' of the performers." Lines that in the cold script mean nothing, but that delivered by the performers they are intended for—as these performers are capable of delivering them—are sure to get howls.
No Good for Strangers
Conn works on deliveries. The new writers, he says, and he speaks as a veteran writer of vaude material, shorts, picture house personal appearances, pictures themselves and radio to boot—they worry about points. In fact, so painstakingly does Conn fit the stuff to the special deliveries of the actors it's intended for that should they refuse it, he throws it right away, he says. It would never do for anybody else.
Luckily, Conn is what he calls a 'ready writer.' In radio you've got to be. The week is Very short, he says. You'd be surprised how short it is. Himself, Conn has got over worrying. He's even given up worrying about the way they steal his stuff. They don't do it right away. They wait a while, then they all sneak up on it at the same time. It pops up all over. When you protest, he says, 'People like Milton Berle's mother will say to you, 'Well, where did you get it?' She thinks it comes out of the ground, like flowers. Trying to stop material, being stolen is like a fellow in a row-boat. One leak springs up, and while he's trying to patch it, fifty leaks are bursting through. Or, if that comparison isn't clear. Conn's got another. 'It's like suing for ten bucks. So you pay two dollars for the summons, and eight for the cab that takes you to court.'
Bertha Brainerd Simplifies It
Once Conn—who used to be a vaudeville artist too;–'Of course, I never played the Palace,' he recalls, somewhat wistfully, 'but I played all around there'—once Mr. Conn thought it would be nice if the writers for radio got billing on the air. So he went to Bertha Brainerd of NBC. 'Why is it that a writer can't get billing?' I asked her. 'We just won't give it to you,' she says. Like that—no explanation. 'We just won't give it to you. The public's not interested.' So then I says to her, 'I think I'll quit radio.' So she says, 'Do as you please,' Like that, just 'Do as you please.' So Conn doesn't worry any more about billing for writers on the air; anyway the Jack Benny program is written to sound ad lib, and if the writers got billing, it would destroy the illusion. But just the same, Conn feels that radio could get good writers if they'd give the writers credits. It isn't just the money that's keeping really good writers off the air. Radio pays all kinds of dough, he says. Why, money is nothing to the sponsors.
Sponsors. They surprise Conn. 'They're pouters,' he says. 'Those big multi-millionaires are pouters. They're hurt, they pout, if you improve a first script after they've okayed it.' Sponsors don't understand yet the importance of material. They're learning, but they don't realize fully, for instance, that a writer not only must write the material, he's got to be with it. He's got to be at the rehearsals, watching to see that the material registers as he visualized it originally. Sometimes it doesn't. A first script is like a first fitting of a suit of clothes; it always needs some fixing.
Some sponsors hire a performer after catching one show. They put him on for a run, says Conn, and then they wonder what's happened. He was great the first time; what's happened to him now, he's no good. They don't realize that it was the material in his show that made him sound good.
Right now most of the big comedy programs are using the group, the family style, which it so happens, says Conn, he originated. The group formula is good, he says, because, whereas, a monologist has to tell stories, and dialogue has to tell jokes, group comedy permits use of situations. Group comedy allows one fellow to be the goat and gives a chance for humorously individual characterisations for the rest of the cast. It is a natural set-up, it has scope, its comedy is most natural. But it needs a good head, a strong center pole of the Jack Benny type, says Conn, to hold it together.
Radio a Stooge Biz
Reflecting on the success of group comedy, Conn comes to the conclusion that radio is a stooge racket. It's a stooge biz, he says. The audience has heard so many good voices, like the announcers, so much good English, that now they want to hear funny voices. Funny voices take the place of stooges' funny make-up. But a stooge doesn't get anywhere by himself. It's the head man's reaction to him that makes him funny. The radio audience, like the vaude audience, waits for the head man's tip-off.
Robertson with Benny
Guy Robertson goes into the Jack Benny stage unit Friday (10) at the State, Cleveland, in place of Georges Metaxa, who withdraws to open at the St. Regis hotel, N. Y., next week.
Metaxa's original deal with Benny was only for four weeks' stage time, his booking at the St. Regis having been a prior commitment.
April 15, 1936
Author Credits on Air Coming?
Two New Commercials Bill Writers—John Royal’s Attitude
Columbia is now giving air billing to freelance producers. To the Pick and Pat stanza (U. S. Tobacco) goes the credit for breaking the ice in this direction. Show signs off Monday nights with the line: ‘This program was produced under the personal supervision of F. A. McMahon.’ Latter handled the show when he was in the radio department of McCann-Erickson and when the tobacco account switched agencies he quit his job to manage the comics. New agency, Arthur H. Kudner, Inc., has no direct control over the program.
NBC has also departed from its policy of banning the billing of writers on commercial shows unless they've come in with magazine stage or screen reps. Godfrey Baking show, 'City Desk', over WJZ Sunday nights credits Edith Meiser with the authorship. John Royal, NBC's program chief, has persistently opposed the interpolation of writer or producer billing on the ground that once the way was opened the air would be so cluttered with billing that radio would take on the aspect of a film's title clip. It was Royal’s opinion that the listeners were neither interested in nor cared about the identity of those behind a script's waiting or production, unless the name was of national importance.
An Old Argument
There has been considerable agitation by authors because radio denied them the prestige, value of air credit. This complaint has been part of a general dissatisfaction by writers (with money matters also involved).
In the recent quarrel between Jack Benny and Harry Conn over authorship publicity Benny took the position that he with his experienced show judgment provided an author with the best protection, in radio as by using only the best of the writer's material he protected the writer's reputation.
Eddie Cantor has answered writer's claims of ‘making the program’ with the assertion that the writers should use their own material and find out how much it meant without the importance of delivery and personality.
Several radio script shows have been wont to tag-line their broadcasts, ‘This is a copyrighted feature.’
JACK BENNY’S NEW $36,000 RECORD, CLEV.
(Best Exploitation: State)
They'll come in droves any time, even on Good Friday, if you give 'em an attraction they really want to see. And that showmanship adage is given another boost by the case of Jack Benny at the State; Never in history of house—and town, too—has the Good Friday taboo been so smacked down as it has been by the Benny show. Over 1,000 lined up at the b.o, at 10:30 a.m. before doors opened. For first performance, the 3,450-capacity theatre was jammed with 4,200 admissions; State didn't need any pic to help but 'Petticoat Fever' will share honors with Benny, Mary Livingstone, et al., for cracking house's all-time records- Combination is out-swamping everything in town, due to most sensational, ballyhoo of the year and fact that it's the first stage unit at State in a year or so.
If the 'S.R.O.' sign keeps flying from the marquee the rest of week, it will set a new top of $36,000. ...
Milt Harris put across sweetest campaign of naturals for Benny unit that State has seen this, spring. Besides two chain broadcasts, major met star at train and gave him a new key to city. Al.so banners in all Jello stores and General Foods trucks, in addition to a newspaper poem contest and a railroad tie-up for coming exposition.
Benny's Jello Troupe Arrives Next Wk . —
Jack Benny, Mary Livingston, Kenny Baker, Don Wilson and the Johnny Green ork are due [in Los Angeles] next week after a two-month personal appearance trip Remainder of the Benny Jello broadcasts will emanate from Hollywood.
Benny Eight Wks. At Par Opens June 15—
New York, April 14.—Jack Benny is due to start in The Big Broadcast' at Paramount June 15. Deal calls for eight weeks guarantee at $9,400 weekly.
Benny, current at Loews State. Cleveland, on personal appearance tour, is heading for $36,000 gross, new record for house.
April 22, 1936
New York Radio Parade
Jack Benny has been after Goodman Ace to write him some scripts for long while. Now with Harry Conn ill and Benny on a spot, Ace has been aiding.
‘Pine’ $19,500 on Benny Momentum; ‘Jan’ 24G, Cleve.
Cleveland, April 21,
(Best Exploitation: Hipp)
Town is still talking about the way the Jack Benny-Mary Livingstone show with ‘Petticoat Fever’ demolished all of State's previous records for Easter week. After set ting a new high for Good Friday, doing six shows on Easter Day and five the rest of week, Benny closed with $39,500 to his credit.
April 23, 1936
1,Vallee, 2,Benny, 3,Allen Women's Airing Choices
New York, April 22. — Rudy Vallee's show was voted best of type on air by Women's National Radio Committee, representing 20,000,000 club women.
Jack Benny was second, Fred Allen, third, and Burns and Allen, fourth.
Cities Service program was acclaimed best for light music, Town Meeting of Air best educational period.
April 28, 1936
Harry Conn To Gillette
Jack Oakie will head up a weekly variety show for Gillette Razor starting the first week in July Ruthrauff & Ryan, agency on the account, has taken an option on Harry W. Conn's services for the Oakie scripting. Until four weeks ago when he suffered a nervous breakdown Conn was Jack Benny's writer. Conn's salary on the Gillette stanza will be $1,500 a week the same as he last received from the Jell-O connection. Benny paid him $750 and General Foods the rest.
Gillette program will run an hour and originate from Hollywood. Neither the talent that will surround Oakie nor the network has been picked. During his recent stay, in New York Oakie did several guest appearances with Ken Murray on the Rinso show over CBS Tuesday nights. Rinso is a Ruthrauff & Ryan account.
May 2, 1936
Gensler, Broadcast Crew Swooping on Benny—
Lewis E Gensler, Paramount produce handling ‘Big Broadcast of 1937,’ pulls for New York this week to confer with Jack Benny on script. Benny holds contract to star.
Producer plans to take along Walter De Leon, Francis Martin and Erwin Gelsey, writers, and songwriting team of Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin.
May 6, 1936
Jack Benny's fourth ether anniversary (3) characterized by a solid scripting and production job. Benny continues to scribble his own shows, with Harry Conn (who next fall goes to Gillette) still absent. Frank Parker and Don Bestor called in as anni guesters, and both of them handled along comic lines. This treatment, built on personality type of gagging, clicked better than a purely nostalgic approach.
Windup skit, woven around a Kentucky feud, had niches for the entire cast and guesters, and came off smoothly. Dialog well built to lead up to climactic gags, and heavily salted with burlesque sound effects. Latter, however, had some of the edge removed when in the next half hour Gulf's Baker show (also handled by Young & Rubicam agency) contained a Mexican skit with well-nigh identical noise-making. Puzzle why similarities, no matter how slight, more than once have appeared in the two shows. Adjoining nature of the stanzas at once magnifies these happenings into the sore thumb category.
May 14, 1936
Brats Plead Daylight Saving, Prefer Benny to Church
Sacramento, May 13.—Redlands Sacred Heart school pupils, who would rather hear Jack Benny on Sunday nights than go to church, asked Gov. Frank F Merriam today to give them daylight-saving time to prevent church interference with the Benny hour at 7:00 p.m. Sunday.
Daylight saving would give them 6:30 p.m. services in time to hear Benny afterwards The request for the change was accomplished by a threat or else we will have to stop coming to church Sunday evenings.
Jack Benny's Jelloing Four On Melrose—
Jack Benny and his Jello troupe will air (31) and four succeeding shows, winding up current contract, from National Broadcasting studio here.
May 20, 1936
PENNER-CROSBY WITH CONN SET
Joe Penner and Bob Crosby's band as an air combination, with Harry Conn as the script writer, were set yesterday (Tuesday) for Cocomalt by Ruthrauff & Ryan. Program starts in September on a network, spot to be set during the summer.
Conn has another deal with the same agency to write the Gillette show, if and when set. This means the possibility of his returning to Jack Benny-Jello in the fall is out. Conn is back with Benny now, but only for the remaining five programs of the latter's current series.
Jack Benny, who received $6,000 a week this season, jumps to $7,500 on his next season's renewal with Jello. Present series has five more Sundays to go and then lays off for the summer, with Benny making a picture on the Coast before resuming in September.
Jello show's next setup will be physically the same as the present one. Benny will supply the missus (Mary Livingstone) and two or three stooges out of his share, with the agency employing a band and a singer separately.
Green with Astaire
Johnny Green, who had the Jello program this season, gets the orchestra spot on Packard's Fred Astaire show.
It starts next September. Green was set by A. & S. Lyons office.
May 26, 1936
Jack Benny and 6 (Adv.) Flavors Due (28)—
Jack Benny is due in from New York Thursday (28) broadcasting network radio program from the coast prior to and during production of ‘Big Broadcast of 1937’ at Paramount.
Picture, which will star Benny, is due to start in June. Lew Censler, producer, returns from the east this morning with group including Walter De Leon, Francis Martin, Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger and LeRoy Prinz.
Tom Harrington gets in Thursday to set up radio production quarters for Young & Rubicam agency. Will also produce Jack Benny show.
Par Ties Margaret Brayton
Margaret Brayton, comedienne on Burns and Allen and Jack Benny broadcasts recently, has been signed by Paramount for comedy role in ‘Count of Monte Cristo.’ Harold Young is directing.
May 27, 1936
BENNY TO LAY OFF IN FRONT OF CAMERA
Jack Benny's summer layoff from the Jello show will start after the stanza of June 21. Benny will devote the major portion of the summer to pic work in Paramount's 'Big ^Broadcast,' while Johnny Green's orchestra will tour theatres and Kenny Baker, singer, will go into pix. Mary Livingstone (Mrs. Benny) is slated for a rest.
Young & Rubicam, agency on the account, now busy with a substitute series for the hot months. As currently planned, Don Wilson, announcer, will be converted into a sort of m.c. and will head up the cast. Tim and Irene, last heard commercially with Joe Cook on the Goodyear program, strongly eyed for clowning and dramatic chores, though nothing is on black and white. Orchestra hasn't been thought about at all as yet.
Jack Benny left for Hollywood after his Sunday (24) broadcast and took a whole mob along with him. Besides Benny and the missus (Mary Livingstone), those going out included Johnny Green, Don Wilson, Harry Baldwin, Kenny Baker, Tom Harrington, Al Birnes and Vi Kaye, all of the Jello show.
Prior to the troupe's departure, Birnes and Miss Kaye, who is one of the Chicken Sisters, were married at the Bennys' apartment.
May 28, 1936
It's That Man Again!
Jack Benny, Mary Livingston and their party Super Chief into town today to resume their highly-flavored broadcasts from coast.
May 29, 1936
This might be called stealing a march on the head writer but this yarn deserves the leadoff, local boy makes good. After many years of announcing locally and serving as a barker-stooge for Jack Benny, Don Wilson comes into his own to top his own variety show and fill the Benny spot when Jello goes one flavor—suntan — for the summer. First show breaks June 28.
June 2, 1936
Par Dickers Benny For 2d on Rah Theme—
Paramount is negotiating Jack Benny for comedian to make second feature after ‘Big Broadcast of 1937’ before he returns east.
‘College Holiday,’ to be produced by Harlan Thompson as a filmusical, has been offered Benny as second starring production.
June 3, 1936
Beloin, 25, Joins Benny
Bridgeport, June 2.
Edmund Beloin, 25-year-old Stratford short story writer, off to Hollywood to assist Jack Benny with script. Scribbler has contributed intermittently to Benny exhalings during past season.
PLANE SILENCES WREN
Freak Accident Puts Lawrence Station Off Air Three Hours
Kansas City, June 2.
Freak airplane accident threw WREN, Lawrence-Kansas City, off the air for three hours on May 24 and jammed wires with calls wanting to know why the Jack Benny stanza didn't go on.
Mishap occurred when Betty Browning, a 24-year-old girl flyer, made a landing that was low and pulled down station's feeder wires. Miraculously, the girl's plane didn't catch fire, and she and two passengers escaped without injury. Damage to the broadcast lines estimated at $100 which the telephone company will dun the aviatrix for.
June 9, 1936
Hearn for Benny Pic
Sam ‘Schlepperman’ Hearn has been set for Jack Benny picture to be made at Paramount. Comic also does Benny broadcast from here Sunday (14), arriving Saturday train. Deal was handled by Leo Morrison.
June 10, 1936
BENNY WANTED $3,000
So Willie Howard May Be in 'Million$—' Ethel Merman Set
Deal for Jack Benny to appear in 'Vinton Freedley's fall musical '—but Million$' is off because Benny's agents asked for $3,000 weekly against 20% of the gross.
Willie Howard may go into the comedy lead, dependent on the length of the revamped 'Scandals' stay in Chicago. Howard has a run-of-the-play contract for the revue in this country, but does not have to appear in London, where 'Scandals' in reported to be heading in the fall.
Ethel Merman is definitely set for 'Million$.'
June 15, 1936
‘Banners Blowing,’ ‘Big Broadcast’ Role at Par—
Two pictures get under way at Paramount this morning, 'With Banners Blowing,' formerly ‘Valiant Is the Word for Carrie,’ and ‘The Big Broadcast of 1937.’
Latter has been getting a story buildup with a switch in characterization by George Burns and Grade Allen. Previously the script did not please the team.
Mitchel Leisen will direct with Jack Benny, Bob Burns, Ray Milland, Frank Forest and the Benny Goodman band cast so far. Leopold Stokowski will also do a sequence in the picture, but his contribution has not as yet been worked out.
June 16, 1936
Par Dickering Benny On Three Per Yr.—
Paramount is talking a three-picture deal for one year with Jack Benny. Deal will include 'The Big Broadcast of 1937' for which the studio brought him west.
Second picture will be a college musical with Jack Oakie also in the cast. Final picture will be a straight non-musical picture with Benny in the lead.
June 17, 1936
Benny Signs for Par Trio
Contract for three pictures at Paramount was signed by Jack Benny yesterday. First is 'The Big Broadcast of 1937' with the second. ‘College Holiday,’ also a musical.
Third will be a straight yarn with Benny in the lead. Studio is hunting story material for him.
ROCK OF VAUDE NAMES FOR PAR'S BROADCAST
Paramount will spot a flock of vaudeville acts for specialties in ‘Big Broadcast of 1936.’ Jack Benny and Jane Froman will be the toppers, but numerous secondary spots are still open for casting on the New York end.
Stan Kavanaugh, juggler, and Larry Adler, harmonica player, are already set. Benny Fields is a possibility.
June 19, 1936
'Special Arrangements' For Froman At WB—
Warners has given Jane Froman her most important assignment in 'Special Arrangements,' original musical by Sig Herzig. Role will be that of femme ork conductor.
She goes into picture after completing femme lead with Jack Benny in Paramount's The Big Broadcast of 1937' on loan from Warners.
June 22, 1936
Air Dates Play Havoc With Par 'Broadcast' Work Hours
Jack Benny broadcasts Sunday, rehearsing Saturday. Jane Froman has a Monday broadcast and a rehearsal in the afternoon. Benny Goodman and his band are on the air Tuesday, spending most of the day in rehearsal.
George Burns and Gracie Allen have a Wednesday spot and rehearse all Wednesday afternoon. Bob Burns is on Thursday night. He rehearses the afternoon of the same day. Bennie Fields is spotted for a Saturday night series, so that eliminates him from picture work on that day. Only on Friday can 'The Big Broadcast' company go through the day without radio interference.
June 24, 1936
Wedlock, Jr., Snyder Pen Benny's Jello Cuff—
Hugh Wedlock, Jr., and Howard Snyder have been signed to write the Jack Benny-Jello programs, beginning Sept. 1. They have been given contract with options.
Herman Bernie agency handlee the deal.
June 30, 1936
Elks Guesting Cantor, Benny and Cobb—
Trio of film names will be honor guests of Los Angeles lodge of Elks as forerunner of national convention here next month. Jack Benny starts the festivities with an appearance July 8. Irvin S. Cobb will be guested July 22 and Eddie Cantor night of July 29.
Robin, Rainger Do Seven For Par's ‘Broadcast’—
Songwriting team of Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger have finished seven numbers which Paramount will use in 'Big Broadcast of 1937,' Jack Benny starrer.
Numbers include: ‘I'm Talking Through My Heart,’ ‘Here's Love in Your Eye,’ ‘You Came to My Rescue,’ ‘Night in Manhattan,’ ‘The High Hat Hop,’ ‘La Bomba,’ and patter for ‘Night in Manhattan.’
July 1, 1936
Cecil Underwood, Hollywood NBC program director, proved he can take a rib when Jack Benny ad llbbed one of his deleted lines into a live mike.
July 2, 1936
Kenny Baker p.a. Tour
During his layoff period on the Jack Benny ether program Kenny Baker has been spotted for five weeks of personal appearances throughout the east beginning (10). He opens at Baltimore following with Washington and Detroit and New York for two weeks. Lyons, McCormick & Lyons agented.
July 3, 1936
Johnny Green Smooths Astaire's N. Y. Biz—
Johnny Green planes east today to discuss Fred Astaire broadcast in New York, and when he returns will make records with Astaire for Brunswick.
Ork leader will be on Packard program here with Astaire.
July 8, 1936
KENNY BAKER'S 1ST P. A.
Baltimore, July. 7.
Kenny Baker, tenor on the Jack Benny Jello radio series, makes vaude debut.
Opening at Loew's Century Fri, (10).
July 9, 1936
For her birthday Jack Benny gave Mary Livingstone a wide diamond bracelet set with three star sapphires to match the brooch and ring he had given her for anniversary and Christmas gifts.
July 10, 1936
'Broadcast' Skeded for Camel
Paramount's 'Big Broadcast of 1937' is another set for the Camel hour with Esty now dealing with Young & Rubicam for the release of Jack Benny for the single program. Others who will appear on the 'Broadcast' will be Eleanore Whitney, Louis DaPron, the Benny Goodman band, Frank Forest, Shirley Ross and Martha Raye.
July 14, 1936
Al Boasberg On Jello Scripts for Benny—
Second screen writer to swing to radio is Al Boasberg, who will work on the Jello scripts for Jack Benny. E. E. Paramore recently was signed for the Lux airer.
Boasberg knuckles down on his return from the Marx Bros. tour. Myrt Blum negotiated the deal.
July 15, 1936
PIC PLAYERS GO TO BAT FOR L. A. CHARITY
Hollywood, July 14.
Two picked teams from the ranks of picture comics and leading men (so-called) will play a charity baseball game at Wrigley Field [in Los Angeles] next Sunday (18). Entire proceeds will go to Mt. Sinai hospital.
In the comedians' dugout will be Pat O'Brien, Ted Healey, Joe E. Brown, George Jessel, Eddie Cantor, Frank McHugh; Jack Oakie, Jack Benny; William Frawley and a dozen others.
On the straight men's side will be George O'Brien, Clark Gable, George Raft, John Boles, Cary Grant, Walter Abel, James Gleason, Leo Carrillo, Frank Shields and George Stone.
Position will be drawn from a hat.
[Note: $16,000 was raised. Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton, Andy Devine and Mervyn LeRoy played for the comics as well].
July 20, 1936
Ray Milland is entirely too dignified and comfortable-looking for the rest of the cast of ‘The Big Broadcast of 1937.’ So George Burns, Mitch Leisen and Jack Benny gang up on him and forcibly remove his suit and shirt. Fazed by the laughter of the gals, Ray starts to run and bumps right into Gracie Allen and a couple of extras outside the stage door.
v July 22, 1936
Here and There
Jack Benny is slated to take the 7 to 7:30 p. m. spot on NBC's red (WEAF) link Sunday nights when he returns for Jell-O this fall. Another account moving over to the red is Sinclair Oil, using the 9 to 9:30 spot for the minstrel show and a quarter hour (7:15-7:30) Friday, and Saturday nights for a sport review by Red Grange.
July 25, 1936
Jack Benny walked onto the set of 'The Big Broadcast of 1937,' took a squint at Mitch Leisen's summer getup and announced, ‘I'll buy the pants, but I can't go for the shorts.’ Mitch is wearing shorts to match his coat, a polo shirt and Chinese sandals. George Burns didn't agree. ‘I'll take the shoes, but I wouldn't be found in Tahiti in those pants.’
July 29, 1936
22 Announcers for 100 Football Games in 11th Sponsor Year of Oil Co.
A total of almost 100 important football games in Pacific Coast states will be broadcast next season by the Associated Oil Company of California. ...
Don Wilson, Jack Benny’s Jell-O mikeman, is reported signed for six broadcasts as $250 each, but the deal has not yet been confirmed. The fee will be the highest, ever paid a Coast announcer for such work.
August 3, 1936
Henry Myers goes to Paramount to write the screen play for 'College Holiday' the Jack Benny, Burns and Allen picture. Sam Jaffe agented.
August 4, 1936
Jack Benny in Chi
Jack Benny trained for Chicago Saturday without benefit of publicity farewell. Benny will visit New York and Saratoga Springs, returning in about two weeks.
August 11, 1936
Schlepperman on Maxwell Hr. For Year in Added Role
Sam Schlepperman Hearn has been signed by Maxwell House Coffee on year's deal for Showboat. Hearn will create new character, Horace Nimble, to supplant Captain Henry. Actor did rube in vaude before creating Schlepperman for Jack Benny program. His pact has options for two years.
Showboat has been on air for over five years without drastic change in characters. This will be first departure. Hearn planes out for New York today and will do first broadcast (20). Leo Morrison set deal.
August 14, 1936
Rainger, Robin Huddle Par 'Holiday' Tunes—
Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin are huddling with Harlan Thompson on specifications for music for Paramount's 'College Holiday,' which will bracket Jack Benny and Mary Boland. Elliott Nugent will direct.
Par Closes on Turtle As ‘College’ Megger— v Paramount yesterday closed cable deal with Frank Tuttle, now in England, to direct 'College Holiday,' musical scheduled to start Sept. 7 with Harlan Thompson as producer.
Tentatively spotted in the cast are Jack Benny, Mary Boland, Burns and Allen, Martha Raye, Eleanore Whitney and Dorothy Lamour.
August 15, 1936v
Newest payoff in radio is in autos. Packard, which starts a new program from here Sept. 8, and Studebaker, will gift their guesters with new petrol wagons, Jack Benny is the first to be 'the man who owns one' on the new air deal, taking a bus in lieu of cash for pinch hitting for Fred Astaire on the initialer. Guest stars to be used on the Packard show will draw chariots for their labors.
As guests of Richard Himber on the Studebaker Championship broadcast, Benny Fields and Frank Parker will knock off a bus for a song. Others will be paid in kind.
Pointed out in the trade that it's a good deal all around. Artists get around the income tax that a cash consideration would invite, the car coming under the heading of a gift. Auto manufacturers also cut a corner, laying out the equivalent of half of what the engagement would cost in cash, figuring on a car costing around half of the list price.
Another byproduct of the payoff is the advertising possibilities of using copy with radio and picture stars at the wheel, which in itself has cost many a manufacturer four-wheeler.
August 17, 1936
JOE STAUFFER of Young & Rubicam agency, which will produce the Fred Astaire radio show for Packard, denies guest stars will be paid off in cars in lieu of cash. He said that Jack Benny would be the only guester to 'be the man who owns one' for his labors as pinch hitter for Astaire on the Inaugural. Since the article in Daily Variety, Stauffer claims he has been deluged with offers from film people glad to swap a turn on the air for a Packard.
August 21, 1936
Phil Harris' Ork Likely For Burns and Allen—
Phil Harris ork has the inside track for the music spot on Burns and Allen broadcast, to take over Sept. 2 when Eddie Duchin moves his crew east.
Jimmy Newell is being retained for the warbling chore.
August 22, 1936
Astaire Airing's All Set Except He's Absent—
Fred Astaire's first broadcast for Packard was set yesterday—with the exception of Astaire.
Jack Benny steers the inaugural, the dance star being in Europe and not arriving in time to take over the show. Others on the first program will be Ginger Rogers, Mary Livingstone, Francis White, Allan Jones, Johnny Green's orchestra, the Uptowners Octet, directed by Mahlon Merrick. Kenneth Carpenter will announce the series. Joe Stauffer of Young & Rubicam produces.
Initiator airs Sept. 8 over National Broadcasting network.
September 2, 1936 (Weekly)
Busse's Dutch Accent (It’s Real) May Get Him Job on Jello Program
Chicago, Sept 1.
Young & Rubicam agency is talking with Sam Lutz and the Music Corporation of America for the Henry Busse orchestra to go on the Jello program with Jack Benny.
Orchestra has been okayed by agency, client and Benny, but with Young & Rubicam contact men in town last week to audition Busse for a possible speaking role on the show, particularly in view of Busse's natural Dutch accent.
In case deal goes through Busse and band will move to the coast for the season. Busse orchestra already set for another coast-to-coast show, over an NBC hook-up for the Mar-O Oil account through the local Baggeley, Horton & Hoyt agency (formerly known as Sellers Service).
September 3, 1936
Benny's Air Terp
Dropping usual routine, Jack Benny will sing and dance for the first time on air when he appears as top guest star on Fred Astaire's radio show over NBC.
September 9, 1936 (Weekly)
Jell-O resumes the Jack Benny series on the NBC Red (has been the Blue heretofore), on Sunday, Oct. 4, with the customary 7 p.m. time spot. Mary Livingstone and Kenny Baker are in the supporting cast, but no orchestra announced as yet.
September 16, 1936
Ill in Pix
MRS. JACK BENNY under observation at Cedars of Lebanon.
With Ginger Rogers, Alan Jones, Johnny Green Orch., Mary Livingstone, Francis White, Ken Carpenter.
Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. EDST
WEAF, New Yorkv (Young and Rubicam)
At one point—a very funny point—in the Packard inaugural program, Mary Livingstone gives the perfect reply to bragging by Jack Benny. She says ‘Oh, shut up!’ There was nobody to give the same good advice to those Packard commercials. Or maybe his best friends can’t tell the president of the company anything. Young & Rubicam, after all these years, certainly knows better. It seems a question of the agency depending upon Jack Benny being good enough—which means extremely good—to square and forgive those dull and jumbled announcements. And particularly the one the president of the company perpetrated.
Exec sat at his desk in Detroit and demonstrated a complete lack of showmanship and appreciation for brevity. It was as solemn as a sermon in a cathedral and delivered in just about the same tone of voice. Victor ‘Lindfoot’ broke in to ask leading questions and to express little deferential exclamations. It does down in the books as a prize example of a sponsor nearly wrecking a nifty entertainment.
After the Detroit interruption—a funeral in the midst of a carnival—Benny came back on the air with the crack that he’d had time enough to take a shower. Seldom indeed does a single program contain the extremes of cleverness and clumsiness as this one did. Moments in the Jack Benny session reached comedy heights. Not smiles but belly laughs—not a few of them but a whole cavalcade of guffaws. And side by side with brightness, smartnessm slick music and modern showmanship the commercials written in the booming style of 1930 . . . not a long-winded description of one automobile but four long-winded descriptions of four machines—each in a different price class.
No doubt about the showmanship of having Benny start the Packard series, which after the first broadcast will be devoted to Fred Astaire and Charles Butterworth. Benny started it with a bang last Tuesday. His usual script formula tied in Ginger Rogers, Alan Jones, Francia White and Johnny Green. Net result in terms of amusement was sockeroo. But those commercials—ugh. Astaire’s first night last night (Tuesday). Land.
September 18, 1936
Wedlock, Snyder Arrive For Benny's Jello—
Hugh Wedlock, Jr., and Howard Snyder arrived in town yesterday to start work on Jello program for Jack Benny who has contracted them.
Herman Bernie set deal.
September 21, 1936
Ill in Pix
MRS. JACK BENNY (Mary Livingstone) out of Cedars today.
September 22, 1936
Blanche Stewart's Year
Blanche Stewart, mimic and understudy to Mary Livingstone, has been signed for another year on the Jack Benny broadcast.
Show is still without a band.
September 23, 1936
Benny Maestro Not Set
Hollywood, Sept. 22.
Jack Benny is still casting about for a maestro-stooge to go on his Jello show which breaks Oct. 4.
Auditioned were Phil Ohman, Henry Busse, Jack Golden, Phil Harris and Carl Hoff, who flew in from New York for the test. Likely that final nod will go to one of the group.
Tom Harrington due this week to start production.
Jack Benny Reports
Back from holiday, Jack Benny yesterday reported back at work at Paramount for 'College Holiday.'
Hollywood, Sept, 22.
Marsha Hunt has been set in her seventh lead role in succession at Paramount, going into 'College Holiday,' with Jack Benny, Mary Boland, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Martha Raye and Eleanore Whitney.
Miss Hunt has just finished in 'Easy to Take,' formerly 'Right in Your Lap,' following 'The Accusing Finger,' 'Hollywood Boulevard,' 'Arizona Raiders' and 'Desert Gold.'
September 25, 1936
Flick Pens Benny Air
Pat C. Flick will write the Jack Benny radio program for entire new series of broadcasts starting Oct. 4. Writer, on Warners staff, just completed ‘Nobody's Baby’ on loan to Hal Roach.
September 26, 1936
Flick as Thesp Only For Benny's Airing—
His Warners contract preventing him from writing for radio, Pat C. Flick will confine his activities with the new Jack Benny-Jello airshow to acting.
Under terms of his deal he will do a comic bit each week. Flick had a hand in scripting many network programs last season.
September 29, 1936
Phil Harris, signed as maestro-stooge for the Jack Benny-Jello broadcast, will go into character in his verbal parries with the headman. Two sound so much alike that it was decided by Producer Tom Harrington to have Harris do his Dixie drawl.
October 2, 1936
The Big Broadcast of 1937
Paramount production and release. Produced by Lewis E. Gemler. Directed by Mitchell Leisen. Screen play by Walter DeLeon and Francis Martin. Based on story by Erwin Gelsey, Arthur Kober and Barry Trivers. Art directors, Hans Dreier and Robert Usher. Film editor, Stuart Heislor. Sound, Harold C. Lewis. Photographed by Theodor Sparkuhl. Special photographic effects by Gordon Jennings and Paul Lerpae. Musical direction, Boris Morros. Music and lyrics by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin. Dance ensembles by LeRoy Prins. Interior decoration by A. B. Freudeman. Cast: Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Burns, Martha Raye, Shirley Ross, Ray Milland, Frank Forrest, Benny Fields, Sam Hearn, Stan Kavanaugh, Virginia Weidler, Eleanore Whitney, David Holt, Billy Lee, Irvine Bacon, Leopold Stokowskl and his orchestra, Benny Goodman and his orchestra. Reviewed at Paramount theatre, Oct. 1. Running time; 94 mins.
Entertainment is the word for 'The Big Broadcast of 1937.' Laden with laughs, swell music, lively tunes and rollicking dialog, the picture is a riot of fun. From opening scene it moves at a grand pace and is throughout real boxoffice. Never taking itself seriously, the film has a genuine flippancy that is always amusing.
While not a travesty, the story eats behind-the-microphone activities of a big broadcasting station in a kidding style, but weaves a naive romance between a radio singer and an artist manager. Thin thread of story is unimportant as dialog and situations, plus sumptuous musical numbers by a talented crew, provide all the entertainment anyone could ask for.
As the station manager, Jack Benny delivers another of his showmanlike performances. His naturalness and personal charm, plus his expert knowledge of comedy, combine for sure-fire b. o. Dialog handed Benny is right down his alley and he uses his material to the best advantage. Several of the best laughs are the direct result of Benny's personal antics.
While George Burns has little to do in this one, Gracie Allen comes in for her share of honors and carries off her familiar Dumb Dora role. As the nit-wit sponsor of the golf radio show, Gracie gains importance as a film comedienne. Judging by preview audience reaction, she has plenty of sincere fans. Bob (Bazooka) Burns, as a yokel in search of fame via the radio orchestra, has some of the best gags. His odd simplicity gets him into some rare situations and he proves valuable to the cast. As a saucy secretary to Benny, Martha Raye does splendid work. Number in which she plays a band leader is a nifty. His plugging the song for it is worth is an excellent bit. Preview crowd gave this one biggest hand.
In the femme lead Shirley Ross is lovely to look at and has fine recording voice as well as refreshing charm. Opposite her as heart interest Ray Milland gives a likeable performance as the agent. Others are satisfactory, especially Frank Forest, Benny Fields, Sam (Schlepperman) Hearn and Stan Kavanagh. Patrons are given the tops in swing and symphonic music. Benny Goodman contributes swing in its most modern style, while Leopold Stokowski ork does a symphony to whole-hearted audience appreciation. Stokowski sequence is handled with rare ingenuity, bringing out to the fullest the artistic essence. Paramount has shown excellent showmanship in its incorporation of these widely divergent types of music, thus allowing most patrons to find musical satisfaction.
Direction of Mitchell Leisen is creditable. He has craftily succeeded in keeping picture moving in tempo with the rapid-fire dialog. Some of the effects he has achieved with the aid of his cameramen and special effects photographers enhance the action.
While hazarding a guess that none of the Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin tunes will hit the topnotch whistling class, they nevertheless are slated for some popularity.
October 6, 1936
Walter Johnson Joining Y & R As Air Prod —
Walter Johnson has deserted the acting ranks for a crack at radio producing. He has been taken in by Young & Rubicam and will act as production aide to Joe Stauffer and Tom Harrington on the Packard and Jello programs, respectively. ...
Next Sunday Jack Benny will satirize 'Anthony Adverse.'
October 7, 1936
With Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris Orch., Kenny Baker, Don Wilson, Benny Baker
Snnday, 7-7:30 p.m; ESTv WEAF-NBC (red), New York
(Young & Rubicam)
The same socko comedy returns marked Jack Benny's return to the NBC red (a switch from the blue) network, emanating from Hollywood, where the principal funster is tied up under Paramount contract. Benny’s been off the air 14 weeks, partially as vacation and partly due to the production of the 1937 ‘Big Broadcast’ for Par. If the comeback sample is any criterion it augurs well for Benny continuing as the No. 1 comedy program on the air.
It's the same stock company, save for Phil Harris' Orchestra in place of Johnny Green (shifted to Packard). And per usual, instead of Johnny (or Don Bestor), Mary Livingstone is now making up to Harris, who is given an appropriate intro, although the strong comedy script got plenty of laugh returns from her new medico. That doctor bit; a play on looking 'tanned and rugged' and a radio reporter were running gags, the latter the least of it, but adequate.
The same surefire formula, including Miss Livingstone's dumbdora interludes, and Kenny Baker's shy style, punctuated by a punchy rendition of ‘The Way You Look Tonight.’ Script also featured a clever satire on the Richman-Merrill to-do wherein Benny Baker (the Paramount comic player who has graduated from comedy stoogery to being a pretty good funster on his own) officiated as the guy who drove the gasoline truck for the Richman-Merrill flight. Phil Harris’ nicely orchestrated musical support, plus the other ingredients, all combined into strong returns.
Maestro Harris and comedian Benny sound very much alike, vocally, indicating that line mentioned idea of making the bandman assume a Dixie brogue wasn't carried through. This voice similarity is probably squared off by the fact that both are good personal friends. Considering that Harris’ baton is much more loquacious than his voice it's not going to be a particularly bothersome parallelism.
A good character, perhaps only intended for casual introduction, but who might well be retained, is Kenny's dumb girl friend from Catalina—Lena Cata is her name—who says she'd go ,to see Fred McMurray even if it wasn't bank nite. Benny’s new author, replacing Harry Conn, is Al Boasberg, film gag man. Abel.
October 8, 1936
Turn to Next Wk.
Too bulky even in satirical form, 'Anthony Adverse' gets a 'continued next week' treatment at the hands of Jack Benny on the Jello broadcast Sunday.
October 10, 1936
Mary Livingstone hasn't felt quite up to par following her tonsil operation and so has been sticking close at home. Yesterday Jack Benny called home to find out how she was feeling and got their baby, Joan, (aged two years and three months) on the phone. 'Come home, daddy, mama's sick and bring me a present, too,' she commanded all in one breath.
October 14, 1936
Jack Benny's Writers
Jack Benny, now In Hollywood, has placed two writers under contract for the 39-week period of his 1936-37 broadcasts for Jello. Gagsters are Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin.
They authored Benny's track-layer for Packard prior to his Jello return.
October 23, 1936
H’wood Crashes Mirror
Radio Mirror's salute Sunday to National Broadcasting on its 10th anniversary will have an insert from here. Participants will include Trudy Wood. Kenny Baker, Don Wilson and Johnny Green. Show airs from New York.
October 26, 1936
THAT BABY TALK—
When it comes to telling stories about their children Jack Benny hasn't a chance with Gracie Allen. Besides, Gracie has two youngsters to talk about, while Jack has only Joan. But evidently Jack figured there was no harm in trying; so he told this story: 'I was working so hard last week that I got up early and slipped out of the house without saying goodbye to Joan. I got away with it the first time, but the second day, when I got home, she wouldn't speak to me, and for three days she wouldn't pay any attention to me at all.' 'Well, that's just like my Sandra,' Gracie started. 'She put me in my place the other day. I went in to kiss her goodbye and, hurrying to slip away, told her I'd send daddy in in a moment.' Sandra assured me I needn't bother. Daddy come in by hisself,' she told me.'
October 27, 1936
Boasberg for Benny
After 10 years as a film writer and director, Al Boasberg will write only for radio. He signed agreement yesterday with Jack Benny to work on the comedian's scripts.
Jack Benny long distanced New York last week for permission to use that rib on his sponsor Sunday night. Lawton Campbell, sales manager of General Foods, okayed it and was used in the imaginary conversation on the show.
November 11, 1936
6 Flavored Santy
Hal Bock, NBC publicist, searched the studio for air actors to pose for Christmas art. Only one who qualified, Irvin S. Cobb, wouldn't go for the Santy getup. Bock finally compromised on Jack Benny, who doesn't look the part.
November 18, 1936
WB FROWNS ON ‘ADVERSE’ AIR BURLESKS
Warner Bros. has tightened up on the use of its scripts for burlesquing purposes by radio. From now on it will be up to the producer's air contacting division to pass on any requests for broadcasting WB controlled story material. What particularly prompted the new policy was Jack Benny's recent burlesquing of 'Anthony Adverse.' Some of the execs in the Warner organization developed the opinion that Benny's version on this Sunday night program for Jell-O could not have done anything but hurt the picture.
November 21, 1936
Benny for Phoenix p.a.
Jack Benny has okayed plans for a personal appearance Dec. 8 in Phoenix, Ariz., at the annual Christmas benefit for under-privileged children sponsored by the Phoenix Junior Chamber of Commerce.
November 25, 1936
Benny, Powell Dual Bill At Helpers Fiesta—
Jack Benny and William Powell will alternate as masters of ceremonies at the Helpers second annual dinner at the Biltmore Bowl tonight.
Ritz Brothers and Burns and Allen will headline the floor show being lined up by Max Arnow.
Follow Up Comment
Jack Benny’s new script writers at last seem to have acquired the knack of writing for this comedian, and the Jello program's current grade of laugh material is on a par with anything done in the past Sunday (22) night's broadcast was excellent.
Show adheres to the theory that Benny is most comical when most sympathetic, and he continually takes the laugh slaps for swell results. Punch lines are liberally sprinkled around among, the members of the show's corking cast.
November 27, 1936
Hurst's Snappy ‘Biz’ Gab
After a one-day conference with Paramount executives on screen play of ‘Show Business,' Fannie Hurst left last night for New York, where she will do treatment. Original is by Lew Lipton.
In cast will be Gladys Swarthout, Jack Benny and Burns and Allen.
November 30, 1936
Jack Benny is teaching young Joan to sing. So far her repertoire consists of 'Sing, Baby, Sing' (page the Ritz Brothers), but Jack promises that by Christmas she'll be carolling.
December 2, 1936
Camels Rushes Cantor, Jolson For Oakie's Aerial Rah-Rahing
Camel Caravan goes rah-rah for the most expensive shows on the air. Around Jack Oakie's emceeing will be built a collegiate routine with top radio names acting as guest professors. Deals are on for Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, Fred Allen, Burns and Allen and Jack Benny.
December 5, 1936
Jack Benny and Mary Livingston will preside over the annual Christmas party given for kids of Phoenix, Ariz. (8).
December 7, 1936
How About Nix-Nix?—
Whether Mary Livingstone accompanies jack Benny to Phoenix to ‘read one of her pomes' to the underprivileged children depends on one word. And that word isn't yes' or 'no.' It rhymes with Phoenix. And Mary hasn't found it yet. She's writing a special poem for the occasion which she hopes to read, but— she's stumped on two syllables which must rhyme with the name of the village.
December 10, 1936
Conn Dropped As Penner's Gag Composer—
Ruthrauff & Ryan agency, producing the Joe Penner air show for Cocomalt, has passed up its option on Harry Conn, top-salaried radio gag writer. He has three more shows to go to wind up his 13-week contract. Don Prindle, KNX writer, moves into the spot with one or two other scripters to work with him.
Conn's contract netted him $1,300 a week. He was with Jack Benny before changing over to Penner.
Prindle is reported drawing $250 a week for the stint. Seven weeks ago he was brought here from Seattle by Charles Vanda, Coast program director for Columbia, and given a staff writing job at $40.
December 16, 1936
‘College Holiday’ is swagger entertainment for all, a heavy-money show. It will probably surpass 'The Big Broadcast of 1937' and will certainly hold its own with the best of the lavish musical comedy offerings of the season. Everyone in the credit list, from top to bottom, is hot, touched off by the showmanship of Harlan Thompson, whose production clicks at every turn in an inspired potpourri of tuneful, footful, beautiful nonsense.
Picture is studded with names of definite amusement promise and production has oodles of exploitation possibilities. It adds decisively to the screen stature of Jack Benny, Martha Raye, Ben Blue, Eleanore Whitney, Johnny Downs and Leif Erikson, without disturbing the par for George Burns and Gracie Allen, Mary Boland, Marsha Hunt and others.
In well-sustained pace the picture capers in romantic song and dance, subtle satire, slapstick, hilarious farce hoofing, blackface antic, sex travesty and other comicalities. There is something for practically every taste.
The story is everywhere according to the talents of the performers or the mood of the moment, without rhyme or reason. Jack Benny, speaking through a cupid's heart direct to the audience, says: 'Whenever the story interfered with art, we didn't compromise—we got rid of both.' That keynotes the nature and quality of the piece.
The meandering plot, delightfully contrived by J. P. McEvoy, Harlan Ware, Henry Meyers and Jay Gorney, is something about a romance between Marsha Hunt and Leif Erikson depending upon the lifting of a hotel mortgage. Benny enlists a scad of college students to raise the gold through entertainment. Complicating matters is the arrival of Mary Boland and Etienne Girardot, addicts of a Greek cult of beauty and eugenics, who believe the youngsters have been gathered to be paired off scientifically. The kids have ideas of their own and the whole soiree goes haywire.
The mad melange is lavishly garnished with song and dance and specialties, from Ben Blue's crazy antics as an electrician to Burns and Allen's wild ride along the highway in a four-horse chariot, from Martha Rave's strong-arm tactics with amorous gents to the biggest wow of all, a burlesqued version of Paderewski's minuet.
Benny is in top form and scores solidly. Martha Raye more conclusively shows her distinctive entertainment genius as a song stylist. Ben Blue gets the chance he's been sparring for over many years and wrestles with his opportunity mightily. Burns and Allen do their stuff with plenty eclat. Mary Boland is delightfully hoydenish. Marsha Hunt and Leif Erikson carry the romance well. Eleanore Whitney shows fine versatility and her personality shines brightly. Johnny Downs continues to grow in importance. Cir-ardot gives his standard goofy-grave performance to ludicrous effect. Jed Prouty scores as the sheriff. Olympe Bradna and Louis DaPron sparkle in a romantic bit. Others effective are Nick Lukats, Margaret Seddon, Speck O'Donnell and Jack Chapin.
Direction by Frank Tuttle hits just the right pace and mood to exploit every entertainment possibility—a smart job in every respect.
Songs hit an exceptionally high level. ‘I Adore You,’ by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, is definitely of hit calibre. ‘Sweetheart Waltz’ is fine melody cleffed by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed. ‘Who's That Knockin' at My Heart?’ by Lane and Freed, is a pippin. ‘Rhyme for Love’ is effective novelty by Rainger and Robin, who also con-tribute ‘So What?’
LeRoy Prinz staged the dances, scoring with an odd and splendid blending of the aesthetic and the hotcha.
Boris Morros does an excellent job with the musical direction.
Photography by Theodor Sparkuhl and William C. Mellor is of highest standard.
Rushed in for a comedy spot on the Jack Benny broadcast last Sunday, Andy Devine reprises next sabbath.
December 17, 1936
Wilson Biscuit Shooting
Don Wilson, lately set to handle commercials for the Irvin Cobb program for Oldsmobile on Saturday nights and who announces the Jack Benny program on Sunday eves, has also been signed to do commercials for National Biscuit Co. program over NBC beginning Friday, Jan. 1.
December 23, 1936
Meade As Benny Aide; Stuart on Praisery—
Everard Meade swings over from publicity for Young & Rubicam agency radio shows to a writing and producing job on the Jack Benny show, as aide to Tom Harrington.
Bill Stuart comes here from the Y&R homeoffice to take over the praisery dep't.
Jack Benny doesn't know it yet, but Mary Livingstone is going to present him star sapphire cuff links for Christmas. ‘Because I like star sapphires, and I figure maybe he'll let me wear them once in a while,’ she explains.
December 28, 1936
Zukor's Jubilee on NBC's Blue Hr. Night of Jan. 7
Testimonial dinner to be given for Adolph Zukor at the Paramount studio in celebration of his 25th year in the film industry will be broadcast the night of Jan. 7 over the National Broadcasting Co.'s blue network.
The affair will ride the ether waves for a solid hour. ...
In the show will be Leopold Stokowski and a symphony orchestra, Bing Crosby, Irene Dunne, Martha Raye, Bob Burns, Gladys Swarthout, Shirley Ross, Dorothy Lamour, Eleanor Whitney and Johnny Downs. Jack Benny will be master of ceremonies.
December 30, 1936
Wedlock, Snyder Jelloed
Writing team of Wedlock and Snyder has been added to Jack Benny's Jello program staff. Pair were placed by Herman Bernie. They start their scribbling this week.