Sunday, 3 October 2021

Political Puns and Dollars

A couple of short newspaper pieces about Jack Benny from 1961.

Jack was known for getting stars on his show who didn’t do television—Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck—and he apparently got stars to say things they normally wouldn’t. This is from April 17th.

NEW YORK (AP) — Jack Benny is such an institution of broadcasting that his show doesn't often cause much comment. Chuckling appreciatively at Jack's age; miserliness and vanity has become a sort of weekly American habit.
But Sunday night, news was made on the Jack Benny Show: Peter Lawford, who has made such a big thing of banning all television references to his relatives in the White House, broke the silence himself.
It wasn't much of a break, to be sure, and it was dragged in by the heels, but the dam has now burst.
Jack, Peter and Diana Dors were involved in an English drawing room triangle (Jack, in a curly wig, was the lover; Peter, the husband).
"Derek," said Jack to Peter, "you are very democratic."
"Yes, Cecil," replied Peter, "it runs in the family."
The laughter was loud and appreciative as Peter mugged a bit

At the time, Lawford was the president’s brother-in-law.

This one has to do with an offer from Benny. It was easy to mine publicity out of this one. The story appeared October 7th.

Is Jack Benny Slipping?—He Gives Away Money
WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP)—Comedian Jack Benny loosened the grip on his billfold and the stork was quick to take advantage.
In a rash moment Benny announced he would open a $39 bank account for every child born Thursday in Waukegan, his home town, and 13 mothers delivered 13 takers. Births in Waukegan have been averaging four a day, but the redoubtable miser of radio-TV fame apparently picked the wrong day to step out of character.
"I'm getting worried. This is costing me money," said Benny when informed of the mounting births late Thursday night. He retired before the final count was announced.
In keeping with his favorite age—39—the $39 is to be left in trust for 39 years. Illinois banks compound interest semi-annually and at 3 per cent each of the 39-year-olds will collect $124.57 in 2000 A. D.
Benny was in Waukegan to tape a television show in a new junior high school named in his honor.
Just before taping the television show which will be presented over the Columbia Broadcasting System network on Oct. 22, Benny said he had received a telegram from fellow comedian George Burns.
"Glad to hear this," wired Bums on learning of the school named for Benny. "I suggest you attend school for at least three years—it will do you a lot of good."

Fall of 1961 for Benny was busy. His own show returned to the air (taped in New York with guest star Phil Silvers), he appeared on “Carnegie Hall Salutes Jack Benny,” he co-chaired a Friars event honouring Mervyn LeRoy, appeared in clip form on NBC’s “DuPont Show of the Week” looking an comedy (even though he was now on CBS) and another programme honouring the USO, dedicated the junior high school named for him in Waukegan, performed a benefit for the Bloomington-Normal Symphony, headed across the Atlantic with George Burns to do a show before the Queen Mum at London’s Palladium, and, well, you get the idea.

Jack Benny wasn’t slipping. But he might have been tired.

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