Sunday, 19 July 2020

Pssst...Wanna Real Bargain?

Once the “cheap” aspect of Jack Benny’s radio character got established, there was no end of stingy jokes. It’s a little odd, then, to go back and read a story about Jack frivolously spending money (in later years, those stories juxtaposed his character with the way he was in real life).

This appeared in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph of March 2, 1936. Jack’s show hadn’t moved permanently to Los Angeles at this point; he only went there from New York when he was making a movie. The paper’s entertainment section used a gimmick for about two years that the office cat would write columns in the form of letters to entertainment reporter Jane Hamilton. Unfortunately, I can’t produce the funny drawing of the cat (there were different ones) that accompanied the article.

Jack Benny Buys Two Tickets To See Himself Broadcast From Radio City
By EBBERBELLE (the office cat.)
Dear Jane:
Well . . . spring is within a gunshot of being here! And here am I full of the wanderlust and indulging in my week's work.
As I look back over the week . . . grasping for things to report that you never heard before . . . my brow furrows . . . The most interesting news . . . was that story that Tom Harrington told about the Jack Benny tickets.
Harrington was the production man on the the Benny program last night . . . He's the production man on all the Benny shows, for that matter, and he was telling about the ticket situation in New York.
Somebody said they had two tickets for the Benny program they'd sell for $40 apiece . . . Now that's a laugh . . . you know, because you can't be allowed to sell broadcast tickets . . . they're free . . . if you cart get them which you usually can't.
Well, Harrington was telling about a time once in New York when he and Jack Benny had gone out to get a bite to eat between broadcasts . . . and were going back into Radio City . . . A furtive looking young man approached them and said . . .
"I've got a couple of tickets for the Benny show . . . want to buy 'em?"
Jack Benny said, "Sure . . . How much?"
"Oh," said the dumb egg, "they're for the late show . . . they'll only be $2.00 . . . I let a couple for the early show go for Five."
Jack Benny gave the guy $2.00 . . . and walked into Radio City for his broadcast.
Yeah . . . I thought that was funny, too.

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