Sunday, 7 February 2016
Jack Benny, 1937
That’s what Jack Benny did in 1937.
The Motion Picture Herald reported on April 17th that Jack’s three-picture deal with Paramount was for “Artists and Models,” “The Big Broadcast of 1938” and “Cuckoo College.” But he never appeared in “Big Broadcast” because he was too busy on a European vacation. W.C. Fields was named to replace him (it was the movie that Bob Hope and Shirley Ross sang “Thanks for the Memory,” making Hope a film star in the process). What “Cuckoo College” turned into, I don’t know; Jack’s next movie was “Artists and Models Abroad” (with the wonderful Fritz Feld) in 1938. The same with “Never Say Die,” which was being cast in December, with Raoul Walsh named to direct starting in Feb. 1938.
On radio in 1937, Jack’s unexpected feud with Fred Allen turned into an unexpected smash hit. It was capped by a Benny trip to New York City where he “fought” Fred Allen on his broadcast of March 14th. To be honest, some of the dialogue in the early days of the feud was childish and not worthy of either radio star. A team of highly-paid writers (Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin) whipped up some name-calling, including “You Town Hall Buddah!” and “You Waukegan Whippersnapper!” The feud was supposed to end with the “fight” but it never really did until Benny left radio in 1955. Fortunately, it got better with age. The insults were far more creative and, toward the end when Allen’s broadcasting career was virtually stalled, the two were more like bickering old friends than anything else. It’s the version of the feud fans remember today. Imagine if Benny and Allen had been alive to film The Sunshine Boys.
Also continuing on the radio show in 1937 were the Buck Benny sketches which provided the inspiration for a feature film.
The March 28th broadcast was an historic one as that’s when Eddie Anderson appeared on the show for the first time, although as a stereotyped train porter. On June 20th, he made his debut as Rochester. Over the years, the stereotype characteristics dropped away (including an accent that was a notch removed from Amos ‘n’ Andy) and he, arguably, became the most beloved person on the show next to Jack. The famous Maxwell premiered in 1937, although the comic sputtering, coughing and hiccoughing supplied by Mel Blanc was still close to 10 years away. The voice of Goofy, Pinto Colvig, briefly provided vocal effects for the Maxwell but was soon off to Miami for a well-paying gig in the Max Fleischer cartoon studio.
Let’s check out the squibs about Jack from Variety of 1937. Several stories have been snipped for length, including an obituary for Al Boasberg, Benny’s script doctor. I’ve included a few shorties about Harry Conn, who was still using Jack’s name to promote himself (and Joe Penner’s, too, even after he was let go from the Penner Cocomalt show). Omitted is the announcement on Nov. 23rd that he was going to star in his own show opposite Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. He hadn’t a chance against the competition, even if the show was good. It only lasted a dozen or so broadcasts. You’ll notice mentions of a couple of movies for Mary Livingstone, but she only made “This Way, Please.” It’s been speculated that she didn’t make more because she wasn’t comfortable in front of a camera. As well, Mary was subjected to fainting spells; one wonders how a studio could get the necessary insurance for her if she had a medical problem.
January 5, 1937
Jones, Garrett Script Zukor Broadcast—
Grover Jones and Grant Garrett are scripting sketches for Para-mount's Adolph Zukor silver jubilee broadcast (7) over National Broadcasting at 8:45. Jones will give brief cavalcade of Paramount history, presenting stars of past, present, future.
William Herbert of publicity department lit writing general script of one-hour broadcast, which will have Jack Benny as emcee.
January 12, 1937
Jack Benny and his radio scribes, Eddie Belloin and Bill Morrow, mapping vacash in Ensenada after Sunday broadcast.
January 13, 1937
Morrow, Beloin Pacted
Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin, script writers for Jack Benny, have been put under contract by the air comic.
January 18, 1937
Par $1,000,000 For Jack Benny Eight in 3 Yrs.—
Paramount has made Jack Benny an offer to appear in eight pictures over a three-year period for a total consideration of $1,000,000, or $125,000 per film. Because of the heavy income tax which he would have to pay under such a contract, Benny is said to be disinclined to accept the deal.
January 19, 1937
Fred Allen and Jack Benny are 'feuding' on the radio . . . you know how.
January 21, 1937
Buck Benny's Claque
Gallery of greats is what Young & Rubicam execs call the weekly turnout for the Jack Benny broadcasts. In the small studio any sabbath can be found a dozen biggies from all walks of life, say the agency lads.
January 22, 1937
Harry Conn Looks Set as Writer On Jolson Air Show—
Ruthrauff & Ryan agency was expected to close today with Harry Conn for the radio writer to work with Frank Gill on the Al Jolson-Martha Raye-Sid Silvers airshow. Writer recently washed up with Joe Penner, whose program is produced by the same agency.
Signing of Conn is to give Silvers a buildup, agency holding that comic has the potentialities of a Jack Benny. Conn used to write the Benny scripts.
January 23, 1937
Benny Airs 'Wallingford; Burns, Allen 'Dulcy'—
Interchange of top names on radio as a goodwill gesture will see Jack Benny and Mary Livingston on the Lux theatre.
Benny and Miss Livingston will do 'Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford' on a coming program. Burns and Allen will offer 'Dulcy' as their guest appearance.
January 26, 1937
Buck Benny Rides BBC
British Broadcasting company cabled National Broadcasting for a top comedy show to be short waved to England Feb. 8. Chain picked the Jack Benny troupe for a 15-minute swing, which also will be aired in this country.
Benny, Livingstone Lux Feb. 15; Danker Denies Film Air Fade
Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone will do ‘Brewster’s Millions’ on the Lux broadcast Feb. 15. Burns and Allen are also booked on the soap show after their current contract with Campbell Soups expires. Danny Danker, chief talent buyer for J. Walter Thompson agency, explained that the booking of top radio names is pursuant to policy, that of using headline performers, regardless of branch of show business with which they are associated. He denied reports that leading film names are fast being used up, forcing the Lux show to cast about for outside attractions.
‘Alphonse’ Bernie Versus ‘Gaston’ Jack Benny—
Ben Bernie will swap jibes with Jack Benny on the maestro's American Can broadcast March 2. As a return courtesy Bernie will appear on Benny's airshow at a later date. Herman Bernie, who made the deals, also set Gracie Barrie on the Hammerstein program Feb. 2.
February 1, 1937
Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone will not renew the lease on their house in Bevhills this spring, for they plan a trip to Europe this summer, and when they return they will probably build their own house.
February 3, 1937
Block and Sully are spending the week at Palm Springs with the Jack Bennys.
February 11, 1937
NBC's Headache At Air Shows Traffic
Feverish activity at National Broadcasting incident to the visit of Maj. Lenox Riley Lohr, chain prexy, and announced plan of a new studio is believed to have been hastened by the addition of four shows soon to augment the local organizations. Studio execs have been shuddering at the thought of Rudy Vallee barging in for a summer session at the Melrose plant. Big problem is, where to put him.
Another that makes them reach for an aspirin is the Fred Allen Town Hall troupe. Come April, Burns and Allen swing over from Columbia but that's a standoff as Helen Broderick and Victor Moore take their biscuit broadcast to KNX. ...
Current studio schedule is so congested that two programs are piped in from remote spots, which isn't exactly the way NBC likes it. California's Hour emanates from Figueroa Playhouse and Tommy Harris had to move next door to Recordings studio. Now broadcasting from the NBC studio are:
Jack Benny (Jello). [and 20 other shows].
February 15, 1937
FRED ALLEN, who is carrying on an air 'feud' with Jack Benny, may get the surprise of his life one of these evenings. Benny has told close pals that if he can find the time, he may fly to New York, walk in on Allen during a broadcast and give him a chance to test his ad libbing.
February 16, 1937
ED FORTMAN, press head for J. Walter Thompson agency, has waded through a maze of figures to prove that Lux theatre of the air has made the healthiest showing of all dramatic shows since the advent of broadcasting. With its current rating of 25.3, Fortman goes on to show that no similar program among the 2,000 that have breezed through the ether has ever achieved that eminence. Surveys have Lux in third spot, with Jack Benny on top and Eddie Cantor pressing for the lead.
February 17, 1937
Jello Lags on 52 Delicious Wks. For Jack Benny—
New York. Feb. 16. — Young & Rubicam agency has not yet obtained an okay from the Jello sponsors on a new 52-week radio contract for Jack Benny although it is expected to come through within the next few days.
New agreement would become effective next fall as current pact expires in June.
Mary Livingstone goes east after Sunday's broadcast to visit her mother and take a rest ordered by her physician.
She will be off the air two weeks, with her part in the show kept alive by telegrams and letters to her husband, Jack Benny.
Tom Harrington Wings For Y&R h.o. Gab—
Tom Harrington, local manager for Young & Rubicam and producer of Jack Benny airshow, flew out last night for the east for a home-office call. He'll wing back in time to handle Sunday's Jello broadcast.
Air Vice Versa
To avoid being confused with Don Wilson, one of the highest salaried announcers in radio, J. Donald Wilson, spieler on Raymond R. Morgan airshows, hereafter will be known professionally as Wilson Donald.
Bernie's Airing Vanderbilt Before He Burns Bankroll
Those fleet-footed equines at Santa Anita will get a terrific play (24) when Ben Bernie sashays up to the mutuels. Night before on his broadcast he will interrogate Alfred C. Vanderbilt and his trainer, Bud Stotler. From them he hopes to wangle enough feed box info to take the bankroll for a merry canter.
On the following week's airing, March 2, the old maestro will have as his guest Jack Benny. Bernie threatens to fiddle The Bee' unless the Jello-againer gives the Schubert opus a gut scraping on his own.
March 2, 1937
Benny Rides Again
Jack Benny leaves on California Limited tonight for New York, arriving there Saturday. He will join Mary Livingstone (Mrs. Benny), already there, and will broadcast several programs in Manhattan before returning to Paramount three weeks hence to start in 'Artists and Models.'
March 3, 1937
KENNY BAKER CROONING WB
Hollywood, March 2.
Kenny Baker, tenor on Jack Benny program, has a lead in Warner's 'The Great Crooner.'
Mervyn Le Roy produces when ready.
BENNY PEWS AT PREEM AS COMIC HITS NY
Big demand for tickets to Jack Benny's Jello broadcast next Sunday (7) caused NBC this week to scurry around for a larger studio at Radio City than had been originally set.
Requests, which started pouring in to NBC as soon as Benny signed off last Sunday after announcing he would be in Manhattan for his next broadcast, easily justified using the main 1,400-seat studio. This may be pressed into service, for the forthcoming broadcast if necessary shifts in studios with other Sunday sponsors can be arranged. Benny generally prefers more intimate studios.
March 9, 1937
Benny in New York making him keeper of the 'Bee' while Jack is away . . . Paige will play 'The Bee' with each orchestral instrument on his broadcast this Friday. Will also present Straus playing the piano.
March 10, 1937
NO FETES FOR BENNY
Recently signing a three-year contract with Jello for air appearances, Benny returns to the Coast in three weeks. On getting back he will immediately go into 'Artists and Models' for Par.
By Happy Benway
Local music shop displays Window, sign: 'On sale, recording of 'The Bee,' not played by Jack Benny.'
March 17, 1937
THAT BENNY-ALLEN MERGE
Got 'Em Rolling in the Parlors — But 'Twas Tough
Sunday Jello program (14) with Jack Benny and Fred Allen trading cracks had five top radio gagmen behind it Bill Morrow, Ed Belloin, Al Boasberg and Allen and Benny themselves were the funny-things-to-say department.
Program got big word-of-mouth action, both lay and trade, the day following. Benny says he'll never top it, but consolation is that neither will Allen.
March 20, 1937
Buzzing Mr. B
New York, March 19.— Jack Benny and his radio troupe stop off in Waukegan, III., next Wednesday enroute to the Coast to be feted by the townsmen. It's Benny's bailiwick.
March 24, 1937
Raoul Walsh to Direct 2 At Par; 1st Benny 'Models'
Hollywood, March 23.
Raoul Walsh has signed a two-picture directorial contract at Paramount. His first will be the Jack Benny film, "Artists and Models."
Edward Sutherland was slated to guide the picture but went to Florida on a vacaish. Lewis Gensler will produce.
March 31, 1937
'THE BEE' STARTS BUZZING
Public Domain Tune Inspires Special Edition With New Lyrics
Chappell Co. appears to have cashed in nicely on the feud which Jack Benny and Fred Allen carried on for several weeks on their respective radio programs. While Benny was in New York Henry Spitzer, Chappell gen. mgr., got the two comics to let him use their pictures on the title page of a special edition of 'The Bee' by Franz Shubert, with Edward Heyman providing the lyrics.
By the end of last week Chappell had disposed of 8,500 sheet copies of the public domain melody and practically closed out its first special edition of 1,000 orchestrations on the melody. Curious angle about Spitzer's bit of enterprise is that previously reports had been received from standard pubs that the feud had not caused the least spurt in the sale of their 'Bee' editions.
Many a current pop tune, with lots of plug effort put behind it does not sell anywhere near 8,500 copies.
Two pickpockets pinched at Jack Benny Waukegan homecoming party.
April 7, 1937
Benny's Tree Gag
Jack Benny's comedy routine on Jello Sunday night used a dog gag in connection with a tree. Barking of the hound was the punch-line.
Incident stirred up quite a bit of adverse comment around the country. Some rumblings of the reaction were audible in Manhattan the next day with the general opinion that it was a major blunder in taste and editing for the No. 1 ranking program.
Benny, Livingstone In Sat. Israel Benefit—
Jack Benny and Mary Livingston yesterday joined the cast of the benefit show to be held at Hollywood Pantages Theatre on Saturday midnight.
All proceeds will go to charities sponsored by Temple Israel.
April 13, 1937
Harry W. Conn, Penman For Benny, at MC—
Harry W. Conn, for years on the Jack Benny radio scripts, has been signed to writing contract at Metro. Conn worked on last year's Broadway Melody' for Metro. William Morris agency negotiated.
[Note: Weekly Variety story added: "Scribbler was formerly highest paid air writer at $1,500 weekly, with Jack Benny's show."]
April 14, 1937
JELLOITES ABROAD AS A UNIT-BUT JUST VACASH
Hollywood, April 13.
Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone are going abroad at the conclusion of his Paramount picture, 'Artists and Models.' They're gifting their, radio writers, Eddie Beloin and Bill Morrow, with free passage to go along with them.
April 15, 1937
Jack Benny mulling an offer to appear at the Palladium in London when he and the missus (Mary Livingstone) vacation abroad.
Grove's 'Welcome Harris'—
Phil Harris opened at the Ambassador's Grove Tuesday night with Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone guesthosts....Favor Flavor: Jack Benny was cracking wise at Phil Harris opening at Cocoanut Grove. Piped Kenny Baker: 'Better save some of those for Sunday night.'
April 17, 1937
Gracie Allen gifted by Jack Benny with an old-fashioned pencil box containing 39 new pencils, one for each broadcast....Don Wilson buying those two acres of apricots in San Fernando Valley.
April 22, 1937
Jack Benny and Don Wilson do a benefit show tonight at Hollywood high school.
April 28, 1937
Mary Livingstone Up For Par's 'Please —
Paramount is negotiating for Mary Livingstone, wife of Jack Benny, to go into the cast of 'This Way, Please' which will have number of radio personalities in the cast.
Mel Shauer will produce with Robert Florey directing. Among principals in lineup are Buddy Rogers, Shirley Ross and Fibber Magee and Molly from radio who will make their screen debut in the opus. Start is scheduled for May 10.
FIRST local theatre manager to take drastic steps to combat Sunday night radio broadcasts' interference with picture house attendance is Charles Core, manager of the El Rey. Starting next Sunday night, Gore will set aside one-half hour from 8 to 8:30 to rebroadcast the complete Eddie Cantor program over the loud speaker system of the house. Following week he will switch to the Jack Benny program, starting at 7:30. Plan, if it clicks, will be to alternate these two programs weekly, idea being that staunch listeners to one or both of the programs will take advantage of hearing the broadcasts as a part of their film entertainment.
April 30, 1937
Bennys in Cotton Bowl July 3-5 for Expo—
New York, April 29. — Greater Texas Pan American Exposition today signed Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone for a three-day engagement starting July 3. Couple gets $15,500 for one show nightly in the Cotton Bowl, which seats around 60.000. Admission will be gratis. Cotton Bowl show is strictly a promotional affair for the expo.
May 4, 1937
Annual Baseball Funfest For Mt. Sinai Goes July 17
Annual baseball classic between the Leading Men and Comedians is set for Wrigley Field, afternoon of July 17. Entire proceeds, as before, go to Mt. Sinai hospital. Among those invited to play are: Jack Benny, Fred MacMurray, Clark Cable, Leo Carrillo, Benny Baker, Larry Crabbe, Charles Starrett, George Raft, Mack Grey, Eddie Cantor, Walter Abel, Jackie Coogan, James Cagney, Sam Briskin, Darryl Zanuck.
Harry Ruby, the tip is out, will be permitted to function as water or bat boy this year.
May 6, 1937
6th Grade Now
Harry Baldwin, who serves Jack Benny as secretary and provides all extra voices and off stage noises at his broadcasts, yesterday passed his fifth year with the top air comic.
May 12, 1937
Jello's commercial on Jack Benny's show last Sunday night (9) was some sort of new blurbing high. With color the keynote of the season, read the spiel, listeners should buy Jello for its beeootiful tints and shades.
Nothing will make a dinner table so gay and colorful and inviting, as a dish of lovely, sparkling Jello which should rate some thing or other for pulling a reason out of the distant ozone.
Same Jack Benny show also offered an example of a growing trend in studio audience programs. Benny, Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris and Don Wilson were all plenty slow on picking up lines. That was probably due to waiting for audience laughs to fade, but it merely slowed the comedy to the ether listeners. Just another instance of the difficulties of adjusting radio entertainment to the two distinct audiences.
May 13, 1937
Benny Sez Ah for Jello
jack Benny satirizes 'Ah. Wilderness!' on his Sunday broadcast.
Eugene O'Neill play was chosen by dialers over the country as the most popular of the year's Jello plays. May 19, 1937
Conn on '37 Melody'
Harry W. Conn is writing dialog for sequences in Metro's 'Broadway Melody of 1937.'
Formerly toiled Jack Benny.
May 20, 1937
Anderson's Benny Ditto
Eddie Anderson repeats his Albuquerque role on the Jack Benny broadcast Sunday. William Meiklejohn agented.
May 24, 1937
Benny, Mary Livingston Off jello Cast—
Jack Benny was forced to cancel his Jello broadcast last night, being laid up at home with influenza. Comic's wife. Mary Livingston, also was off the show. Program was virtually all musical with Don Wilson functioning as announcer. Music for show was produced by Phil Harris and band, Kenny Baker and Trudy Woods vocalizing.
May 26, 1937
JELLO'S SUMMER SUBS
Jane Froman and Don Ross Hold Spot for Benny
Hollywood, May 25.
Jane Froman and Don Ross step into the broadcasting breach on the Jello program when Jack Benny and Mary Livingston take their three-month summer vacation. New lineup becomes effective on July 4, and program will revert to New York for its origin point.
June 19, 1937
Robert Emmett Keane appears on the Jack Benny program tomorrow night. [Note: He played director Raoul Walsh]
June 23, 1937
Al Boasberg Does an 'Off to Buffalo'; Gagsters Will Miss His Ready Wit
By ARTHUR UNGAR
Hollywood, June 22.
Al Boasberg, 45, the triple-threat writer of gags and comedy in all branches of show biz—radio, screen and vaude—died here early last Friday morning (18) with his boots on. His passing was sudden.
Boasberg had been working on the script of the Jack Benny show for last Sunday (20) aided by Al Klein. Boasy had not been feeling well all day Thursday and as the midnite hour approached complained about pains in his left shoulder. He decided to rest a few minutes and suddenly Klein heard a rattle in the throat of Boasberg. 'Stop gagging, Al,' he cried. Instead Al dropped to the floor and before medical aid arrived he was dead.
Boasberg, who came from Buffalo, in his early life heard nothing but show biz from his dad and uncle who were jewelers to the profession. [snip]
The Ether Gold Strike
When, the comics came into demand, on the ether lanes, it was bonanza for Boasberg. They wanted him for material; Coin was no object. But Al, who was self-thinking, decided to cotton to the fortunes of Jack Benny. Only couple of days before his demise he had signed a contract for two years with Benny at $1,500 a week. [snip]
At his funeral services the prominent show people who Boasy had given material were on hand and as Jack Benny walked out of the funeral salon he remarked, 'America's greatest natural gagman is leaving us, doing an off-to-Buffalo.
Benny, Livingtone Sailing For Europe July 17—
Jack Benny and Mary Livingstorne sail July 17 on Normandie for vacation in London and Paris.
Will stop in Dallas July 345 for personal appearances at the Centennial.
July 25, 1937
Comics' Round Table—
No one wanted to miss a quip, so all guests sat at a circular table at the George Burns - Gracie Allen Ambassador birthday party Wednesday night for Mary Livingstone. Eddie Cantor reversed the usual procedure. Scouted for reticent autograph hounds and set them barking at Jack Benny. (Benny was invited to the surprise party Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin had for Harry Baldwin that same night). The Jack Haleys, Benny Rubin, Ruby Keeler and the Andy Devines other round-table guest.
July 7, 1937
Can't Sail on Same Ship With Jack Bennys
The Jolsons and the Bennys aren't sailing together July 14 on the Normandie as planned. Al Jolson got into New York this week and is awaiting his wife, Ruby Keeler's advent later in the month. She leaves Hollywood for N.Y. July 16, having been kept west by the doctor. This stymied the Jolsons' sailing abroad this summer altogether.
As for Miss Keeler's Paramount picture dickering, Jolson trying to dissuade her from continuing the picture-making grind.
Kids Bored by Life Story of Lily Pons, But Curious About Those Funnymen
Ireene Wicker on her 'Singing Lady' programs over NBC for Kellogg through the spring, was in the habit of telling her kid audiences about contemporary classical music recitalists, such as Heifetz, Pons, etc.
Letters from her fans convinced Miss Wicker that her juve audience wanted rather to hear about radio comics, and, this week the artistic figures give place to stories on Cantor, Baker, Allen, et al.
Jack Benny and Burns and Allen will not get treatment from Miss Wicker, because Kellogg (through the N. W. Ayer agency) considers Benny's sponsor, General Foods, a competitor, as well as B. and A's bankroll, Grape Nuts.
For the past four years NBC has had a rule prohibiting any program aired over its two nets from mentioning any program or performer appearing on CBS. Miss Wicker will apparently ignore that rule, despite recent NBC efforts to stiffen the order. Indeed, during her stretch of elaborating on classical music performers, the 'Singing Lady' frequently told, child-version yarns on artists current at the time on Columbia. She ran a whole series on the different guests on the Ford Sunday Evening Hour, even plugging the show.
DALLAS TAKING IT IN THE NECK
Dallas, July 6.
With an impressive title, the Greater Texas and Pan American exposition has proved to be a local proposition through its first 22 days. Attendance figures at closing Saturday (3) had reached aggregate of 448,052.
Most of the attendance is at night and exhibits scattered over the grounds of last year's Centennial get hardly any patronage during day. Weather-wise Texans just don't stick their heads out in the mid-day sun. When the lights go on, they have been making an appearance in the entertainment spots and giving the exhibits no play.
The exposition has started retrenchment in line with the preference for night-time stuff and took a big slice out of the day-time personnel. Frank McWeny, director general of the fair, also took occasion last week to issue a formal statement denying rumors that the celebration would end before its scheduled time Oct. 31.
Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone ere brought in over the holiday weekend to act as bait for the front gate. The pair was presented in a Saturday night in Cotton Bowl which was free and Stunt was to be repeated Sunday and Monday nights.
Free show had the entire setup which ordinarily broadcasts for Dr. Pepper on 9 Southern network Sunday nights and included Lyn Murray's male chorus, Jack Arthur, and Art Jarrett from the Casino. Attendance at the first free, show was estimated at 15,000; much less than exposition officials had anticipated. Benny also made appearances in Cavalcade and Casino shows nightly to earn the $15,000 he reputedly received for stopoff here.
July 14, 1937
'Vacation is a Vacation'-Benny Informs Royal
Jack Benny nixed John Royal's request that he put on a broadcast from the Normandie tomorrow (Thursday) while 300 miles out of New York. They're fellow passengers on the ship.
Benny explained that when he's on vacation, he's on vacation. Comic didn't even go on the air for his regular account Jell-O while visiting the NBC studios in New York Sunday (10) during the broadcast of the pinch-hit program, with Jane Froman, but let its occasion pass with some intramural comment.
Al Jolson and Jack Benny claimed to be on five winners at Empire track Saturday.
DALLAS PERKS; OUTSIDE HELP
Dallas, July 13.
Dallas exposition begins to justify its claims of an international flavor this week, as George Marshall starts his elaborate sports program. Track and field events plus a soccer tournament will be unreeled at night in the fair's stadium, Thursday through Sunday.
Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone ended up their three nights of personal appearances over July 4th week-end by attracting aggregate audience of 65,000. Opening night (3) they drew 15,000 into, stadium, then got 30,000 and 20,000 on two succeeding nights.
July 21, 1937
Jack Benny Insists He's Holidaying 100% Abroad
London, July 20.
Paramount threw a press reception for Jack Benny this afternoon (20) with two-score journalists on hand to ply the comic with questions.
Benny already has offers from British broadcasting and commercial continental broadcasting, supplemented by Insistent demands that he play a date at the Palladium, to all of which he has turned a deaf ear, insisting on a holiday.
Advertising Agencies Radio Plans Young & Rubicam
Jell-O: Jack Benny and Mary Livingston with Don Wilson, Kenny Baker and Phil Harris and his orchestra. 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. (rebroadcast time 11:30 to 12:00 p.m. EST), Sunday night. Show originates from Hollywood and is broadcast over 70 stations. Starting Oct. 3 and runs through to the end of June, 1938.
July 29, 1937
Face Lifter Stops Benny Fields' Bankrupt Out-
New York, July 28. — Bankruptcy discharge for Benny Fields, currently a nitery headliner was set aside today by Federal Judge Knox at the request of Francesco X. Sauchelli, theatrical face lifter who claims a $300 debt for treatments. Court referred the matter back to the referee in bankruptcy for review.
Fields filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy in 1935 enumerating his debts at $16,000 and showing no assets. Among the creditors, mostly for loans, were: Jack Benny, George Burns, Ruth Etting and Abe Lyman. Blossom Seeley, Fields' wife, also petitioned at the same time.
August 4, 1937
W. C. Fields is replacing Jack Benny in Paramount's 'Big Broadcast' because Benny probably won't be back from his vacation by the time the picture goes into production Sept. 1, and also because of desire on part of Par. to cash in on Fields' popularity on air now. Paramount officials are said to think that Fields' large radio following should help in selling 'Broadcast.'
Jack Benny still holds a Paramount contract and will appear in a number of films but his vacation plans take precedence just now. When he left the Coast he is credited with refusing to come back and do anything on production until after he began his broadcasting. Benny also has been declining picture offers abroad, feeling that a vacation should be just that.
Paramount release of Lewis E. Gensler production. Stars Jack Benny. Features Ida Lupino, Richard Arlen, Gail Patrick, Ben Blue, Judy Canova, Yacht Club Boys, Louis Armstrong, Martha Raye. Directed by Raoul Walsh. Screenplay, Walter DeLeon and Francis Martin, based on adaptation by Eve Greene and Harlan Ware of story by Sig Herzig and Gene Thackrey. Songs, Ted Koehler, Victor Young, Harold Arlen, burton Lane, Frederick Hollander, Leo Robin. Scored by Phil Boutelze, assistant director, John Burch; film editor, Ellsworth Hoagland; camera, Victor Milnor; dances, Le Roy Prinz; also Vlncente Minelli. Reviewed In Projection Room, N. Y;, Aug 2, '37, opens Aug; 4, '37, at Paramount, N. Y. Running time, 95 mins.
Mac ....Jack Benny
Alan.... Richard Arlen
Cynthia .... Gail Patrick
Jupiter Pluvius....Ben Blue
Toots .....Judy Canova
Lois Townsend....Kathryn Kay
Stella ..........Cecil Cunningham
Mrs. Townsend .... Hedda Hopper
Specialties by the Yacht Club Boys, Andre Kostelanetz and his Orchestra; Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra, Peter Arno, McCleland Barclay, Arthur Willliam Brown, Rube Goldberg, Russell Patterson, John LaGatta, Martha Raye, Connie Boswell.
Water Waltzers....Mary Shepherd and Gloria Wheeden
Model ...Sandra Storme
Marorie ....Madelon Grey
Craig Sheldon. ... Alan Birmingham
Dr. Zimmer.......Donald Meek
'Artists and Models' should be a boxoffice bonanza for exhibitors. It holds enough variety, comedy, color, spec, flash, dash and novelty for a couple of pictures. It's so replete with a cavalcade of radio, nitery, vaudeville and revuesque ingredients that it's much to the credit of all concerned that this madcap musical shapes up as well as it does. While it's a hodgepodge of plenty, it's a fetching melange and quite skillfully held together.
There have been past instances of much sadder note when the same was attempted, and the trade by now dismisses that sort of cinematic conglomeration as a 'big short' Not so 'Artists and Models? Its composite talents are not in vain.
Producer Lew Gensler and director Baoul Walsh manage all the loose ends nicely. There are a couple of misguided sequences, one of which may react negatively to the future of Martha Raye whom the studio has developed into sizeable b.o. It's that 'Public Melody Number One' sequence, done in a frankly Harlem setting, with Louis Armstrong tooting his trumpet against a pseudo-musical gangster idea. While Miss Raye is under cork, this intermingling of the races isn't wise, especially as she lets herself go into the extremest manifestations of Harlemania torso-twisting and gyrations. It may hurt her personally.
There's also an over-persistence in motivating Ben Blue and Judy Canova as an eccentric comedy team. They're hit 'n' miss.
But while, the film in toto is a madcap cavalcade of variety it jells better in the main; Jack Benny, Ida Lupino, Richard Arlen and Gail Patrrick are chiefly responsible for holding it together. This is Benny's first solo starrer and it's also a departure for him in that he's assigned the major romantic interest instead of doing the John Alden routine which so many radio recruits have been lately scripted into. Benny does a surprisingly good job as the major Romeo although, if he's going to maintain that idea — and it's good studio showmanship to foster it— he should give his avoirdupois a little consideration.
Benny is cast as the advertising agency head. Arlen is his biggest (and practically only) account. Ida Lupino is a professional model who, because she's a p.m., is at first snubbed by Arlen for a ritzy ad campaign. Miss Lupino hies to Miami posing as a socialite, in order to impress that being a pro model isn't a liability. Gail Patrick is another looker, with a mccoy blue-book background, who likewise eases into the ad agency racket.
Against this the Yacht Club Boys dash in and out madly, 'creating' shows for Benny. Just what's the ultimate objective is never disclosed, nor does it matter. The prime idea seems to be laffs. They achieve that prime idea throughout. 'Sasha Pasha' is a corking opener with Charlie Adler o£ the Adler, Kern, Kelly and Mann combo (Yacht Clubbers) doing the egocentric genius who creates brilliant show ideas just like that.
Quite plausibly—at least so far as recent Hollywood filmusical standards of plausibility go of late—are introduced the other specialists. Thus Andre Kostelanetz and his excellent symphonic syncopators are segued into the cafe set doing 'Whispers in the Dark,' the film's hit tune. Connie Boswell is deftly presented for the vocal interlude and there's also a good staging bit with a couple of femme swimmers doing rhythmic waltz routines under water — a sort of midget Aquacade routine. All this of course in the Miami nite club setting,
Peter Arno, McClelland Barclay, Arthur William Brown, Rube Goldberg, Russell Patterson and, John LaGatta are the name illustrators introed at the A&M ball which caps the film. In this sequence Patterson's Personettes do a novel puppet show routine that's a peach. It could be transplanted intact into a cafe as a floor show novelty. Patterson incidentally screens well as do all the other artists, and Goldberg, in addition, almost makes a straight man out of Benny in a bit of effective crossfire.
The presence of the illustrators in the bit is excellent showmanship to cinch the 'Artists and Models' tag and authentically tie-in with the lookers (models) for b.o. ballyhoo. They're all beauts, with Sandra Storme, highly heralded English mannequin, getting special billing. She rates it.
Judy Canova has a 'bubble' song for her first opportunity, just so-so. That goes for 'Stop! You're Breaking My Heart,' doubled with Blue, bolstered chiefly by their own panto efforts. As for the Judy, Ann and Zeke hillbilly specialty later on, it could be cut out completely to the film's advantage. Blue jells better in the Personettes number wherein Mr. Esquire gets the spotlight, and which shapes up as about the swellest free ad for any magazine as could be had. It's practically a commercial tieup.
Benny has a socko laff scene with Donald Meek as the meek medico that's a bear; another with the male underwear stylists where Benny is mistaken for the model, and in midst of which the Yachtsmen burst in with a whoop-de-doo of all the corny vaudeville extant, as another of their 'inspirations.'
All the other contributions read like a show biz catalog but it shapes up well in combination with the rest of the footage. LeRoy Prinz's dance-staging; the musical scoring; the camera work, and so on down the line. Withal, good film fun for any fan. Abel.
RE-REVIEW OF BENNY FIELDS' BANKRUPTCY
At the request of Francis X. Sauchelli, theatrical face-lifter, Federal Judge John C. Knox has set aside the bankruptcy of Benny Fields and his wife, Blossom Seeley. Sanchelli claims Benny owes him $300 for treatments and had failed to list the debt among his liabilities. The masseur claims Benny is not entitled to a discharge because the actor had not lived six months in N. Y. state prior to filing his petition. On consent of Maurice Maxwell, Fields' attorney, the matter was referred back to Referee Oscar W. Ehrhorn for review.
The Fields declared themselves broke in 1935. The actor listed liabilities at $13,648.11 and no assets, Miss Seeley for the same amount. Among the creditors named were Ruth Etting, for a loan of $500; Jack Benny, loan on notes, $1,500; George Burns, loan, $500; Abe Lyman, $100; Goodman Ace, $600.
Jack Benny's bee-o-lin, miniature violin, was among exhibits at convention of Musical Instrument Manufacturers in N. Y. last week.
August 4, 1937
Desirable Radio Studios Scarce in L.A.; Warners See Rental Room on Theirs
Hollywood, Aug. 10.
Indications are that the studio-theatre of KFWB, Hollywood, will be in much demand this fall for the origination of network programs.
Layout was recently constructed by Warner Bros, at an estimated cost of $100,000, with radio technicians rating it as the last word in broadcast equipment. Fact that it seats 500 makes the spot particularly desirable for audience shows.
With NBC's new Hollywood studios still in the talk stage and CBS hard pressed for remote facilities to take care of its influx of fall shows, Harry Maizlish, KFWB mgr., has been receiving bids from various sources. Four different agencies approached about booking possibilities last week.
Benton & Bowles' Maxwell House Showboat is the only outside program using the WB playhouse. Likely that Rogers Silver or Jell-O (Jack Benny) will originate from the Warner lot.
Film producer is now considering the erection of one or two duplicates of the studio-theatre, with every-thing depending on the demand continuing and the right kind of rental deals.
August 7, 1937
Par Lifts Livingstone
Mary Livingstone, wife of Jack Benny, yesterday had her contract at Paramount renewed for another year. No definite assignment has as yet been made.
August 11, 1937
Before he left for Paris Jack Benny did a two-minute broadcast July 24 for B.B.C. without a fee. He goes to Berlin, Vienna and points east.
August 13, 1937
Par Parting Benny For Three Pix At $100,000 Per
The new Jack Benny-Paramount deal is at the signing stage. Impending contract calls for three Benny pictures within the next two years, at an understood figure of $100,000 per picture.
Writers will shortly be assigned to develop an original Benny comedy. Negotiations have been going between Adolph Zukor and the star via cable and telephone to London where Benny is on vacation.
Stipend for the trio of pictures specified in the negotiations which lack only the final formalities is considerably higher than coin received for Benny's first threepicture deal, The Big Broadcast of 1938.' College Holiday' and 'Artists and Models,' recently completed.
Option taken up on Mary Livingstone for another picture several days ago by Paramount was independent of the Benny negotiations.
August 16, 1937
Jack Benny Set By Par for Eight In Four Years Consummation
of the Jack Baany-Paramount deal by came yesterday binds the star to the studio for a straight four year contract, with a minimum of eight pictures to be made during that period.
First of the new Benny vehicles is being written by Preston Sturges to be produced by Arthur Horn blow, Jr., under the title, 'Music Over America.' Benny will not return from his present European vacation for seven weeks.
Mrs. Benny (Mary Livingstone), whose option was recently take up, will appear in 'This Way Please' with Charles Buddy Rogers, Betty Grable, Ned Sparks, Fibber McGee and Mollie.
August 18, 1937
$1,200,000 FOR BENNY'S 8 AT PAR
Organizational Detail Completed; 'What's Next?' Is Talent Union Questions; To Be Self-Governed
With its charter from the Associated Actors and Artistes of America
now obtained and its national board of directors named, the American Federation of Radio Artists is about ready to approach the networks and advertising agencies for recognition as representative of the radio performers.[snip] Directors to serve two years include Jack Benny.
August 26, 1937
Benny, Morrow Rejoined In Chi Next Week—
Jack Benny will be reunited with Bill Morrow, his head gagster, in Chicago upon the comedian's return from abroad next week. Illness prevented Morrow from going to Europe with Benny.
The two will make their way back to the coast by motor. Mary Livingston, Benny's wife, will make trip by train.
August 31, 1937
Mary Livingstone is lined up for role in 'Thrill of a Lifetime,' at Par. Others in cast are Yacht Club Boys, Bob Hope and Rufe Davis.
Miss Livingstone arrived in New York yesterday on the Normandie with Jack Benny.
September 8, 1937
An Equine P. A., Anyway
Jack Benny has joined the crazy-over-horses brigade. Through friends, while he was abroad, he purchased a yearling at the recent Saratoga sales. The nag is at Belmont, L. I., where one of the A.G.Vanderbilt trainers is prepping him.
Hoss' name is Bucking Benny.
September 10, 1937
Livingstone, Wong And Hope Arrive—
Mary Livingstone, Bob Hope and Anna May Wong trained in, all reporting at Paramount for picture assignments.
Miss Livingstone (Mrs. Jack Benny) goes into 'Strawhat in Summertime,' which Mel Shauer produces. Hope will play in 'The Big Broadcast of 1938' and Miss Wong takes part in 'East of Shanghai.'
September 22, 1937
Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone will rent instead of building their own palazzo.
Jack Benny, accompanied by his brother [likely his brother-in-law, Leonard Fenschel], is taking a leisurely motor trip from Chicago to Hollywood via the Pacific northwest.
September 29, 1937
How They Figure
Hollywood, Sept. 28.
Columbia [CBS] boys hold visions of Jeanette MacDonald giving Jack Benny a terrific run for dialer attention when the two oppose each other. Reason for their optimism is that a recent survey brought to their attention shows that Miss MacDonald outdraws "Buck" Benny in the picture houses. Songbird is doing a series for Vicks.
October 4, 1937
Phyllis Marie Arthur column.
The Jack Benny show yesterday afternoon was a harmony of autumn browns and gold. Phil Harris, Kenny Baker, Jack Benny, Don Wilson and the orchestra all wore brown suits. Mary Livingstone wore a gold light woolen dress with a brown suede beanie with a tassel, and brown suede shoes. Andy Devine and Abe Lyman were the only 'dissenters' in blue. Benny wasn't kidding about his getting fat. [Note: Lyman was on vacation in Los Angeles and was signed as a guest].
October 6, 1937
With Mary Livingstone, Kenny Baker, Phil Harris, Andy Devine, Don Wilson, Abe Lyman Comedy, Songs, Band
Sun., 7 p. m.
WEAF, New York
(Young & Rubicam)
Jack Benny returned Sunday (3) with both the old gang and the old gas and probably the old following. The script took no chances for the occasion. It even revived an old feud, and by doing so accounted for the only unquestionable sock interlude of the program. Abe Lyman proved a big gun, in oral volume and dramatic effectiveness, during this laugh whirlwind. He didn't stumble even over a syllable.
Before Lyman's entry the kidding ran pretty much to the thinner side, with most of the slow jockeying obviously due to the formalities of cast reintroduction. Kenny Baker gave evidences of a decidedly improved voice and style, while the larynx of Andy Devine showed that it was more capable than ever of producing static.
Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin the program's co-authors. Odec.
Irv Brecker's Conditions
Irving Mills left for the Coast Sunday (3) to handle the details of a radio connection for Irv Brecker, who did the scripts for Milton Berle on the Gillette show. Brecker is under contract to Mervyn LeRoy as a picture writer, but will accept a bid made by Jack Benny if his work will be confined to putting the final touches on each script.
Brecker has also been approached by Benton & Bowles, agency on the Jack Haley-Log Cabin Syrup show, but the writer likewise in this case wants to make it an editing assignment.
Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin have joined Jack Benny at Palm Springs to rig up the next installment for the comedian's airer. [Note: Variety later reported Abe Lyman went on the jaunt as well].
October 9, 1937
Paramount Ties Up New Story for Jack Benny—
'The Captain Needs a Mate,' original by Eric Hatch, has been purchased by Paramount for Jack Benny. Lew Gensler will produce.
October 29, 1937
Tycoons of Worldly Affairs Laud Cantor
Eddie Cantor's ears burned a becoming pink last night under the deluge of tribute and complimentary kidding from his peers of the show world and celebrities from all walks of life at the testimonial dinner at the Ambassador in recognition of his 25 years as an entertainer. [snip]
Jack Benny, introduced as the Moses of Waukeegan, got bellows of laughter with his quips, especially the crack that Cantor was so fanatic in his charities that his wife, Ida, had to call up and say she was speaking for the Red Cross every time she needed a new dress. Each of the boys adroitly got in a plug for his own program and sponsor on Eddie's time at the mike.
October 30, 1937
DONATIONS have been pouring into KHJ to such an extent in past week that the new Tune Twister program starring Benny Rubin has had to be revamped. When the program aired last Tuesday it was intended to seek neediest family in each city receiving a broadcast over Don Lee chain. Now it appears each station will be able to care for several people. Among those sending checks were Sid Silvers, Al Jolson, Jack Benny, many others.
November 6, 1937
Benny Gang Back
Jack Benny, accompanied by his script writers, Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin, returns from Palm Springs this morning. [Note: Variety earlier reported that Jack was staying at Bert Wheeler's place in Palm Springs.
November 10, 1937
NO 'GLORY,' GRISMAN SUES BENNY ET AL
Jack Benny, Bert Wheeler, George Jessel and the Glory for All Corp., of Los Angeles, are named defendants in a $10,000 breach of contract suit in the N. Y. supreme court by Sam H. Grisman, the producer.
Grisman alleges that he entered into a contract last January with the defendants under which the Glory Corp., through its officers, agreed to furnish a play titled 'Glory for All,' including a cast, provided Grisman furnish the theatre and what goes with it. Grisman said the contract provided the play was to be ready by Feb. 15, He obtained the 48th St. theatre in preparation for the. production of the play. He was then informed by Robert Milford. secretary Of the Glory Corp., that the agreement was all off.
[Note: Two weeks later, Variety reported Burns was the only one to answer the suit and a judge tossed it out, saying Burns could not be held personally liable].
November 16, 1937
Benny Marches On
Jack Benny air show was filmed by March of Time last night. Scenes showing the comedian at work with his writers, Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin, will be worked into the footage.
November 20, 1937
Warner With Benny
H. B. Warner will appear on the Jack Benny program tomorrow in a takeoff on 'Lost Horizon.' [Note: Warner is not listed among the players in the archived script of the Benny show for that date].
November 24, 1937
Benny's Chi Charity
Chicago, Nov. 23.
Jack Benny will be guest headliner at Chicago's Own Christmas Party at the Stadium Dec. 15. Benny comes to Chicago, for this benefit, which is entirely municipal and non-political, as the guest of the city. Paramount has arranged shooting schedules to permit Benny to make the journey.
Publicity on the Xmas show, which is receiving 100% cooperation from from Mayor Edward Kelly and Barnet Hodes, corporation counsel, is being handled by Madeline Woods, with Irving Levy acting as Mayor Kelly's personal aide in supervising all the actual operations in the production of the gigantic show.
Last year Eddie Cantor making a special trip to town to appear at this show. Possibility that the entire Benny Jello program and cast will shift to Chicago, but that move may not be necessary, since the Christmas show here takes place on a Wednesday.
November 29, 1937
USED PARTS: CALL BENNY—
Since Jack Benny has been airing his grievances about that old Maxwell, he has been gifted with enough parts to very nearly make a Maxwell, including a fender for which he had to pay $1.35 collect charges. Evidently everyone who drove a Maxwell kept it on the road until there was nothing left of it but the key. Benny thinks he has all the keys!
November 30, 1937
Benny Ties Kenny Baker
Kenny Baker yesterday signed a 26 week contract with Jack Benny's Jello broadcast. He's featured vocalist.
December 4, 1937
Jack Benny Returning
Call of Fred Allen-Jack Benny (31.3) will pay back a personal call he owes Fred Allen (22.5) and will toss around a few gags on the Jello program (22). Allen appeared on Benny's airshow last season. [Note: the show aired on Dec. 22].
December 6, 1937
Francisca Gaal Garners Spot Opposite Benny—
Francisca Gaal gets her third starring role at Paramount opposite Jack Benny in his next picture. 'Never Say Die,' which will follow the Bing Crosby musical romance, 'Paris Honeymoon,' in which Miss Gaal has the femme spot. Latter goes into production in January as a Harlan Thompson assignment.
'Never Say Die' is screenplay by Preston Sturges which Raoul Walsh will direct as an Arthur Homblow, Jr. production.
December 15, 1937
Radio Comics in Action, Part of March of Time Screen Essay on 'Humor'
'March of Time' monthly newsreel is shooting big commercial-program comics for a forthcoming clip to be titled 'American Humor.' Item will likely be released in Time's February release and will with humor figured to be native to the U. S.
Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, Burns and Allen and other funnymen on the ozone will be shot in action on their programs in instances where the ad agencies sponsors will permit and the performers o.k. the lensings.
Benny, Cantor, Baker Invite NY Exiles—
Group of former New Yorkers here are getting lonesome for each other. Feel that they do not get together frequently enough to know what one another is doing. To make their relationship more cordial Phil Baker, Jack Benny and Eddie Cantor decided on a conclave. This will take place Monday night at the Hillcrest Country Club and it is expected that all former New Yorkers who have risen to fame in Hollywood will find time enough to answer 'present and accounted for.'