Sunday, 4 December 2016

How Mary Met Jack, 1932 Version

Over the decades, several different versions of how Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone met made the rounds. One of the earliest versions is found below. It was published in the December 12, 1932 edition of Radio Guide. Jack hadn’t been on the radio for a year at this point and was just about to lose his original sponsor, Canada Dry, thanks partly to a behind-the-scenes battle involving him; his writer Harry Conn; writer/performer Sid Silvers, imposed on the two by the sponsor; and Mary. For a time, there seems to have some reluctance on identifying who Mary Livingstone was in public. By the end of 1932, the trades were reporting she was Sadye Marks, aka Mrs. Jack Benny.

There’s no mention of a seder meeting between the two in this story but there is a mention of Vancouver, where Mary grew up. One thing is consistent in all the stories I’ve seen. Jack deeply loved his wife.

The photo, with the annoying dots, accompanied the article.

Mary Livingstone—Jack Benny’s Boss
By Hilda Cole

THE gathering of the clan of radio comedians is evidently Essex House. Burns and Allen live there, and so do Mr. and Mrs. Jack Benny. Often when George and Jack are off to the Friar's Club, Gracie and Mary go to a midnight show. On other nights they get together seriously over a bridge table. It's New York's radio rendezvous.
The Benny's live on the thirtieth floor, and their apartment is simple but very comfortable. Mary loves to look out of the window over Central Park, which from that height is map -like, with cars wending through the labyrinth roads, small ant -like figures scurrying across the football field in formation, and others proceeding aimlessly around the frozen pond.
She, Mary Livingstone, is a darling. Her voice is quiet and low-pitched and earnest. She says she loves Jack more than the day she married him, which was approximately six years ago.
"I'm not very interesting myself," she said, "'but I do like to talk about Jack."
He hastily passed through the room en route to a conference with his script collaborator, in dressing gown with his hair mussed up. He paused and grinned upon hearing her words.
"That," said Jack, "Is as it should be." Whereupon he blew a kiss at her and vanished.
"There," said Mary, "Isn't he sweet?"
IT was in Los Angeles, seven or eight years ago, and Mary, having just emerged from school, was having herself a good time. She liked college boys best. She was interested in her job, as buyer for a shop in town. An older sister had married a theatrical man, but she was on the other side of the continent. Outside of that, Mary knew nothing of theatrical persons. She was thrilled to meet Jack Benny, playing at the Orpheum, through a friend. While he was there Mary. in a somewhat smitten state of mind, went out with him several times, and was very impressed. He seemed an extra-grand person. Jack too, had indelible impressions of Mary, but before they had time to think twice, he'd gone on to make people laugh in another town.
Within the next year Mary became engaged to a very nice boy, a college man with a sensible future. "I must," said Mary, "have been in love with him."
However, in the interim between the announcement of her engagement and the wedding, Mary visited her sisters in Chicago. Jack Benny arrived in town too, and they got together. Mary arrived on Sunday night, and Friday she married Jack. People like Jack didn't grow on trees, she thought, and evidently Jack held the same sentiments about Mary.
At first she was as bewildered as Alice in Wonderland by the back-stage life. It seemed crazy. But she wanted to adjust herself to Jack's life, and she has succeeded. He helped her along by asking her to step into the act and take the place of his girl partner, who had to leave.
"I was very bad the first time," she will tell you. However, Jack was patient. They Mary Livingstone and Jack Benny toured the Orpheum persistently together, and by the time it was concluded, she had a little experience. Finally, at Vancouver, B. C., Jack had a chance to get his old partner back. He tried to work with her, and found that he could not do it. From then on, Mary and he were inseparable as actors as well as life partners.
WHEN Jack started the new Canada Dry [show] on CBS, she had never a thought of participating. However, one night he decided he would like to have another character, and she did so beautifully and added such an invaluable touch to the program, that she's been on since.
Mary says she is always scared to death before she goes on, and knows that she could not do it with anyone but Jack. Standing next to him gives her confidence. When he changes script—as he does occasionally she always starts to correct him, and remembers only in the nick of time that she is on the air. She's boss, you know.
Jack, says Mary, is an ideal person. It is next to impossible to have an argument with him. He likes everybody, and everybody likes him. Like most comics, he is serious-minded. "Everybody else may be clowning in the room, but Jack is serious," says Mary, "He enjoys laughing at everyone else, though." Sometimes he will wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, and beg her to help him remember it. They both enjoy going the same places and doing things together. Mary says she would not enjoy being with anyone else. Their tastes are mutual—with the exception of gold.
Mary has a special passion for movies. She says she could see them all day long, good or bad. Joan Crawford and Leslie Howard are her favorites.

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