Sunday, 11 April 2021

Script Helper to the Star

Several members of Jack Benny’s staff would show up on his radio show and one of them actually made the jump to television.

Jeanette Eymann was the show’s script assistant starting sometime in the mid-‘40s. You could tell she wasn’t a radio actress, but she read her small parts effectively and got laughs.

A script assistant, among other things, notes the changes in the script made during writing sessions and ensures the revisions get to the cast and crew.

She was originally from Illinois and the local paper in Bloomington wrote about her and her career in show biz, and published the pictures you see below. It appeared in the edition of December 15, 1963.

Script Secretary Gives Jack Benny Full Marks--He's Great, She Says
By LOLITA DRIVER

Comedian Jack Benny is "just great" in the opinion of a former Twin Citian who has been his script secretary for 18 years.
"I wouldn't have been with him this long otherwise," says Jeanette Eymann Barnes, Pontiac-born and ISNU-educated.
Jeanette, now living in Van Nuys, Calif., with her husband Kenneth, and his two sons, 9 and 12, says the comedian is even-tempered and not the temperamentalist he might have a right to be.
SHE HAS BEEN tapped several times to appear on his shows four altogether this year. "I've been a nurse so many times I'm type-cast as one," she said in a telephone conversation from her office in Beverly Hills.
In a recent Robinson Crusoe sequence in the Benny Show, though, Jeanette was the girl in the library.
A 1941 graduate of ISNU where she majored in art, speech and English, Jeanette taught school in Highland and Galesburg before moving to California 20 years ago. She answered a blind ad as a secretary to Jack Benny's producer and got the job after working as associate producer ("glorified term for secretary to the producer") for the Amos and Andy Show.
Jeanette's five-day working week runs from 9:30 in the morning till around 3:30 or 4, "when the writers usually quit for the day." She does a lot of her typing at home. Since she appears as an actor in some of the Benny Shows, she holds membership in the Screen Actors Guild.
THE BENNY company, J and M Productions (Jack Benny and Mary Livingston), which is at 9908 Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, ground out 13 of this year's shows last summer and had five or six more to do to carry the show through April, Mrs. Barnes said last week. The ReVue Films are produced in Universal City.
In radio days, Jeanette subbed for Mary Livingston on the shows, standing in for Mary who had earlier taped her lines. Miss Livingston disliked appearing on the radio shows in person, Miss Eymann says.
Mrs. Barnes describes herself as "five feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 112 pounds, with dark hair and glasses," and Mr. Benny as "blue-eyed, about five feet 10, no toupee and 69 or 70 next February."
Jeanette lived in a rooming house near the ISNU campus while in school here, and friends here recall that she referred to herself as "the genius" in those days. She still has that sense of humor, the telephone conversation revealed.
She also worked briefly for State Farm Insurance while living here.
THE BARNESES installed a pool at their home last summer and are fond of California. Mr. Barnes is associated with Lockheed Aircraft., Her mother, Mrs. Joe Eymann of Pontiac, who usually spends her winters in California, is out there now in an apartment near Jeanette. Jeanette's brother, Dale, who is also remembered here, is in the public school system in Los Angeles, and another brother, Kenneth, is in Minneapolis.
A great-aunt, Mrs. John B. Eymann, also lives in Pontiac.


Jeanette was born December 5, 1919 and died April 14, 2012 in Castaic, California.

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