Sunday, 25 August 2013

But Was it a Maxwell?

Occasionally, friends of Jack Benny would get letters in character from him, complaining they listened to Fred Allen and so on. One of them may be featured in the Long Island City Star of February 25, 1947. I don’t know if the letter or the incident are real or the columnist made it up, but it’s too good not to pass on to Benny fans. Certainly Jack played the Orpheum Circuit throughout the 1920s.

Going to Town
Jack Benny Pays a Bill; But It Was a Tough Job!
FOLLOWING correspondence came about as the result of Neal Begley (prexy of the Hertz-Drive-Ur-Self organization on the Pacific Coast) discovering that Jack Benny owed the company $2.25 since 1928 for rental of a car:
“Dear Mr. Benny: Would it interest you to know that you owe us $2.25 wince 1928 for rental on a Hertz-Drive-Ur-Self car? Neal Bagley, President.”
“Dear Mr. Begley: I am interested, but not enthusiastic. Can you furnish some details? Jack Benny.”
“Dear Mr. Benny: It happened in July, 1928. You were playing the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. You took a car out and never paid the bill. You are listed as weighing 142 pounds, 5 feet 10 inches in height, with blue eyes and bÅ‚ack hair. Your age is also listed, but I don't want to put that down on paper unless you request it. Anything else? Neal Begley.”
“Dear Mr. Begley: Never mind how old I was. I wouldn’t want people to know I was breaking the law driving a car at such an early age. Jack Benny.”
“Dear Benny: Very funny, but why didn’t you pay the bill? Neal Begley.”
“Dear Mr. Begley: It so happens I suffer from a strange form of amnesia, I forget about debts. However, send me a bill. Jack Benny.”
“Dear Mr. Benny: Here it is. Neal Begley.”
“Dear Neal: Would you interested in settling this bill for a little less? After all, you know, the dollar is worth only 50 cents now. Jack.”
“Dear Jack: It just occurred to me that $2.25 at 6 per cent interest for 17 years amount to $4.55. Neal.”
“Dear Begley: Am remitting $2.25 as full payment of my bill. Both Dennis Day and myself are pretty sore about this. Jack Benny.”
“Dear Benny: I can understand about you. But why is Dennis Day sore? Neal Begley.”
“Dear Begley: I had to cut his salary again to pay your bill. Now goodbye! If you are going to write me any more letters, please send me some stamps! Jack Benny.”

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