Sunday, 29 May 2016

Jack Benny Vs Fred Allen, June 1, 1947

Jack Benny and Fred Allen managed to carry on their phoney radio feud from late 1936 past the time Allen’s show left the air in 1949. The two of them exchanged visits on each other’s shows, usually when Benny was in New York City as Allen lived there.

There’s plenty of old-time radio available on the internet for your free listening pleasure, but not all the Allen shows featuring Benny are in circulation. One of them was broadcast June 1, 1947. However, scripts for the Allen shows are in the Boston Public Library. Hurray to historian Kathy Fuller Seeley, who headed to the aforementioned educational edifice and managed to get a copy for that particular show. Actually, she’s missing several pages due to a photographic error but all the pages involving Jack’s dialogue are intact.

The first half of Allen’s show in those days involved an introduction by announcer Kenny Delmar, dialogue between Allen and Portland Hoffa, followed by the Allen’s Alley segment, a song by the DeMarco Sisters, then the middle commercial. The second half consisted of Fred and Portland setting up a sketch with the guest star, then the sketch, a final commercial and Allen’s farewell (if he wasn’t cut off by the NBC staff announcer).

What you see below is the transcribed script for the second half of the show; the page numbers are indicated. Allen’s regular cast was involved and is noted in the script as to which characters they played. They were Delmar, Minerva Pious and Peter Donald. The other regular, Parker Fennelly, didn’t generally take on any other parts except the dour New Englander, Titus Moody, in the Allen’s Alley portion of the show.

Just a few notes in case there are readers unfamiliar with the background:

● Jack Eigen had a radio all-night show where he interviewed celebrities at a club in New York. The bulk of his career was in Chicago.
● The major radio networks required programmes to be broadcast live, with a second live version several hours later to accommodate the west coast time zone (recording off the line was permitted by local stations in certain exceptional circumstances). Bing Crosby was the first person to break the rule, convincing ABC in fall 1946 to allow him to pre-record his show on transcription discs. This created a huge controversy in the industry as well as Crosby/wax jokes.
● Bernarr MacFadden (1868-1955) was a health, bodybuilding and diet expert, one of the first.
● “Small boy”? New one on me.
● There was a Cecil Theatre in Mason City. It opened June 3, 1912 with a seating of 859. It was later named the Park 70. It ended its days run down and boarded up before collapsing in 1988.
● Kenny Delmar’s Russian accent is a takeoff on actor/director Gregory Ratoff, who appeared on radio periodically.
● The name of “Mr. Weaver” was borrowed from Pat Weaver (1908-2002), who was president of NBC in the 1950s. He produced Allen’s radio show some years earlier as the representative of ad agency Young & Rubicam.
● A number of comedy/variety radio shows in the ‘40s—whether by network edict, I don’t know—reserved time before the final commercial for a public service announcement.

ALLEN: That was just a blueprint of My Adobe Hacienda played by Maestro Al Goodman and 25 members who were honorary pallbearers at Seabiscuit’s funeral. And now – Yes, Portland.
PORT: Do you mind if I go home early tonight?
PORT: The antique man is bringing Mama a new coffee table.
ALLEN: What happened to your Mother’s old coffee table?
PORT: Termites got in it.
ALLEN: No kidding.
PORT: The termites ate the coffee table down to a demi-tasse table.
ALLEN: We had an end-table at home. Termites got into the end-table. And now we have an end-table no end.
PORT: An end table with no end is a what-not.
ALLEN: I know. I went out yesterday to look around the antique shops and I saw the oldest antique.
PORT: Where?
ALLEN: Well, yesterday afternoon I left home and started up Third Avenue.
ALLEN: I stopped to read a sign in a window of an empty store. The sign said – Jack Eigen slept here. Suddenly, the door of a thrift shop next door opened –
A: And I heard the saleslady say –
MIN: (OLD LADY) I’m sorry mister. We won’t have those high button shoes until next week.
JACK: Save me two pairs and a button hook.
ALLEN: Jack Benny!
ALLEN: Jack what are you doing in a thrift shop?
JACK: I have the darndest time getting shoes.
ALLEN: You get your shoes in a thrift shop?
JACK: I like those high-buttoned shows – nobody else carried them. I get the vici-kid with the bulldog toes.
ALLEN: oh.
JACK: They were all out today. They only had those Congress shoes with the elastic in the side. They looked too dressy.
ALLEN: Gosh, Jack. You look wonderful.
JACK: And, Fred, you look wonderful, too.
ALLEN: Those rumors. People have been saying you’re a shriveled up, infirm, doddering old man.
JACK: And people have been saying you’re a flabby, wrinkled, baggy-eyed old sour puss. They told me you were wearing a veil.
ALLEN: People have been saying that’s what we are? Ha! Ha!
JACK: Yes. Ha! Ha! Say, Fred –
ALLEN: Yes, Jack?
JACK: We are, aren’t we?
ALLEN: Jack. I’ve never seen you looking better.
JACK: Thanks, Fred.
ALLEN: That beautiful wavy hair –
JACK: Well - -
ALLEN: Those sparkling white teeth –
JACK: Gee - -
ALLEN: And those long eye-lashes –
JACK: uh-huh. What about my nose?
ALLEN: Your nose?
JACK: Yes. At least that’s mine.
ALLEN: Jack, all I hope is that when I’m your age I look as good as you do.
JACK: Wait a minute, Fred. Did you say when you’re my age?
JACK: You had a birthday yesterday, didn’t you?
ALLEN: That’s right.
JACK: Well, I heard that if all the candles on your birthday cake were melted down, there’d be enough wax to record Bing Crosby’s program for all of next season, and enough left over to wax the floor at Roseland.
ALLEN: I heard last year when they lit the candles on your cake two guests who got near the cake were barbecued.
JACK: Now wait a minute, Allen, if you want –
ALLEN: Jack, Jack, what are we fighting for? We’re old friends.
JACK: You’re right, Fred.
ALLEN: Gosh, I wouldn’t know you from Barnarr MacFadden. How do you keep yourself in such wonderful condition?
JACK: It’s the life I’ve been leading.
JACK: I get up every morning at seven, pry my nostrils open, take a deep breath and I’m ready for breakfast.
ALLEN: What do you have for breakfast?
JACK: A glass of orange juice and a small boy long loaf of French bread.
ALLEN: A small boy? A long loaf?
JACK: Yes. I lean on the small boy French bread while I drink the orange juice.
ALLEN: Oh. After breakfast –
JACK: I’m off to the golf course.
ALLEN: You play golf?
JACK: If I happen to find a ball, yes. Otherwise I caddy.
ALLEN: After a hard day of retrieving on the links you must be ready for dinner.
JACK: Yes. For dinner I have one jumbo raisin and a heaping bowl of spinach.
ALLEN: One raisin and spinach. That must give you plenty of iron.
JACK: You said it. I don’t know what they do in Rio on a rainy night, but at my house I sit around and get rusty.
ALLEN: You’re certainly double crossing old Father Time. You haven’t a wrinkle in your face.
JACK: Confidentially, Fred, I wouldn’t want to get this around but I’ve been having a little plastic surgery done.
ALLEN: Plastic surgery?
JACK: Yes. Every week or so I have this plastic surgeon take up the slack skin on my face and tie it in a knot at the back of my neck.
ALLEN: The back of your neck? Doesn’t it bother you?
JACK: No. The only thing is, I have to wear a size 27 collar.
ALLEN: I noticed that your Adam’s Apple was pulled around your left ear. But with it all, Jack, you still look the same as the first day we met.
JACK: Gosh, that was a long time ago.
ALLEN: It sure was. The first time we met – remember . . . . .
(“MEMORIES” . . . . (SNEAKS IN) . . . (VIOLINS)
ALLEN: I was in vaudeville – a star. I was headlining at the Cecil Theatre in Mason City, Iowa. After the first show I was sitting in my dressing room. I heard an argument in the hall. I opened the door.
PETE: I’m Krakauer, the manager of this theatre. Your act is putrid. You’re canned.
JACK: But everything went wrong. When I came on the orchestra forgot to play Pony Boy. At the finish when I play Glow Worm my violin is supposed to light up. The electrician forgot to plug it in.
PETE: Even if you lit up you couldn’t save your act. Start packing!
JACK: But, Mr. Krakauer.
PETE: You’re through! Get out!
JACK: I wish I was dead.
ALLEN: What’s the matter, Son?
JACK: Say aren’t you Fred Allen, the big star – The head-liner?
ALLEN: Yes. Stop trembling, lad. Aren’t you the opening act?
JACK: Yes. I’m Gypsy Jack and his vagabond violin.
ALLEN: Gypsy Jack.
JACK: This is my first date in vaudeville. The manager just canned me. I haven’t any money. How will I get home?
ALLEN: Where do you live?
JACK: In Waukegan.
ALLEN: What is the fare to Waukegan?
JACK: Thirty dollars.
ALLEN: Here is thirty dollars, Gypsy Jack. Go back to Waukegan.
ALLEN: Gosh, Jack, when I saw you leaving the theatre that day in your gypsy suit with the long silk stockings and your satin pants little did I think I would ever see you again. What happened?
JACK: When I finally got home to Waukegan, I went back to pressing pants in my Uncle Tyler’s tailor shop.
ALLEN: Mason City had left no scars?
JACK: No. But show business was still in my blood. At heart I was still Gypsy Jack, and his vagabond violin.
ALLEN: I see.
JACK: One day, I was pressing a traveling salesman’s pants, when my iron ran into a lump in one of the pockets. The lump turned out to be a ticket to Hollywood.
ALLEN: Hollywood! That was the second time we met. Remember.
ALLEN: Hollywood. . It was on the 20th Century Fox lot. I was starring in my first picture “Thanks A Million”. I remember that morning I walked on the set.
PETER: (YELLS) Quiet on the Set! Quiet on the set! Mr. Allen is ready.
ALLEN: Where’s the director?
KENNY: (RUSSIAN) Right here, Mr. Allen.
ALLEN: What is my first scene, Gregory?
KENNY: It is the Bowery. You do that big comedy bit with a bum.
ALLEN: Oh, yes. Let’s run it through. Who’s playing the bum?
KENNY: Central Casting sent us a real bum. Here he is. You with the filthy wind-breaker and the baggy beret. Come here.
JACK: Yes, sir.
ALLEN: Just a minute, Unsanitary One. I seem to know your face. Didn’t we meet in vaudeville? Aren’t you Gypsy Jack?
JACK: Formerly Gypsy Jack, Mr. Allen. Here in Hollywood I’m using the name, Dexter Strongheart.
ALLEN: I hardly knew you with that beard.
JACK: I’m Gabby Hayes stand-in. But this is my big break, Mr. Allen. Gosh, doing a scene with a star like you. It’s like a dream.
KENNY: All right. Let’s gat going with the scene. Here’s the pie, Mr. Allen.
ALLEN: Thank you.
JACK: Oh, there’s a pie in the scene.
JACK: Do we eat the pie?
ALLEN: Not exactly. I hit you in the face with it.
JACK: Let me understand this. You throw the pie at me?
JACK: What do I do?
ALLEN: You do nothing. I throw the pie at you. You get it in the face. Are you ready.
JACK: Just a minute.
ALLEN: What is it?
JACK: You throw the pie, don’t I duck or anything?
ALLEN: No. You just hold your face still and “Whap” you get it.
JACK: “Whap” I get it.
ALLEN: Yes, are you ready.
JACK: Could I ask one more question?
ALLEN: What is it now?
JACK: What kind of pie is it?
ALLEN: I don’t really know.
JACK: Do you mind if I taste it?
ALLEN: No. Go right ahead.
ALLEN: What flavor is it?
JACK: Lemon Meringue. Oh shoot.
ALLEN: What’s wrong?
JACK: Couldn’t you make it banana cream? I like banana cream better.
ALLEN: It’s too late now. We’re holding up the picture. Get set. I’ll throw the pie.
JACK: Hold it!
ALLEN: Now what?
JACK: What part of my face are you going to hit?
ALLEN: What difference does it make?
JACK: I’d like to get it right. I’m anxious to make good.
ALLEN: I plan to hit you between the eyes. It will be quite funny when the goo runs down your cheeks.
JACK: That will be funny. Ha! Ha!
ALLEN: Good. Well, here we go.
JACK: Wait! Wouldn’t it be funnier if you hit me with a loaf of bread?
ALLEN: A loaf of bread?
JACK: Sliced.
KENNY: Stop! Stop! I am the director! This bum is trying to direct the picture.
JACK: But, sir.
KENNY: I couldn’t shoot this scene today. The company is dismissed. Put away the pie. Get that bum out of here. He’s fired.
JACK: Gosh, Mr. Allen. I’m fired again.
ALLEN: Look, Dexter. It told you ten years ago in Mason City - -
JACK: You’re right, Mr. Allen. I guess I’m just not meant for show business. How will I get home?
ALLEN: Do you still live in Waukegan?
JACK: Yes, Mr. Allen. It’s thirty dollars by bus.
ALLEN: Okay. Here is thirty dollars, Dexter Strongheart, go back to Waukegan.
ALLEN: I’ll never forget, Jack, before they threw you out of the studio I gave you the lemon meringue pie.
JACK: It lasted me all the way to Green Bay.
ALLEN: What happened when you got back to Waukegan this time?
JACK: I went back to work in my Uncle Tyler’s tailor shop. But show business was still in my blood.
ALLEN: You were unhappy at your ironing board, eh?
JACK: I was desperate to getaway. Whenever I got a pair of pants to press, the first thing I did was feel for lumps. And then one day - -
ALLEN: Another lump?
JACK: A big one.
ALLEN: A railroad ticket?
JACK: This time it was money. I could go where I wanted. I went to New York.
ALLEN: New York. That was the third time we met. Remember?
ALLEN: New York. That’s where you got your start in radio.
JACK: Thanks to you, Fred.
ALLEN: Oh, it was nothing. I remember, that day I got the call from a man named Weaver. A big-shot with the American Tobacco Company. I entered Mr. Weaver’s office.
PETE: Gad! Fred Allen! We’ve been waiting all afternoon.
ALLEN: What’s on your mind, Mr. Weaver.
PETE: We’ve got a big radio program for Lucky Strike Cigarettes – We want you to be the star.
ALLEN: I’m sorry, Mr. Weaver. I’ve just signed with Tender Leaf Tea and Shefford Cheese.
PETE: Well, that does it. Without you Allen we might as well pull Lucky Strikes off the market. We’ll close the plantations, and send old F.E. back to Lexington, Kentucky.
ALLEN: I’m sorry, Mr. Weaver.
PETE: Gad what a program this would have been. We had this singing quintette.
ALLEN: A quintette?
PETE: Yeah. Show him, boys.
CAST: Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
ALLEN: Wait! That hairless soprano on the end – aren’t you Dexter Strongheart?
JACK: Yes, Mr. Allen. (WHISPERS) But for radio my name is Jack Benny.
ALLEN: Jack, you in a quintette?
JACK: Before Mary Livingston would sign up for the show she made them find a job for me.
ALLEN: Oh, a tie-in deal!
JACK: Please, Mr. Allen, take over the program, it’s my last chance.
ALLEN: Jack, that gives me an idea. Mr. Weaver, the star of the Lucky Strike show – does he have to be funny?
PETE: No. We’ve got Rochester, Dennis Day, Phil Harris – plenty of comedians.
ALLEN: I see?
PETE: All we need is a slob the others can bounce jokes off of.
ALLEN: Then here’s your man – Jack Benny!
PETE: Okay, Benny – If Mr. Allen says so, you’re hired!
JACK: Gee, thank you, Fred.
ALLEN: So Jack that’s how you got into radio.
JACK: Yes, Fred, if it wasn’t for you who know what I’d be today.
FRED: Oh, it’s nothing, Jack.
JACK: Well, Fred, it’s been swell talking over old times.
ALLEN: It sure has, Jack. I haven’t seen you since that day in Weaver’s office. Tell me, what are you doing now?
JACK: My program finished last Sunday. Right now I’m doing nothing.
FRED: You’re out of work again, eh?
JACK: Yes, Fred.
ALLEN: What are you going to do?
JACK: I guess I’ll go back to Waukegan. But, Fred.
ALLEN: You don’t have to ask me, Jack. Here’s the thirty dollars.
JACK: But, Fred - -
ALLEN: And this time stay in Waukegan!
ALLEN: Ladies and Gentlemen, during the last half hour more than 120 people in the United States were injured in automobile accidents. Accidents are increasing at an alarming rate. This last year 33,500 American drivers and pedestrians died as a result of carelessness and violation of the laws. Whether driving a car of crossing the street, be alert - - be careful. And remember that the life you save may be your own.
Before we remind you to remember Tender Leaf Tea and Shefford Cheese on your shopping days, I want to thank the Neanderthal Man, Jack Benny, for sneaking out of the Roxy to join us tonight. Next week, our guest will be Rochester. Thank you. And good night!

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