Sunday 24 October 2021

Mrs. Wilson

It took Jack Benny several tries before he found an announcer that would stick with him for years—Don Wilson. And it took Wilson several tries before he found a wife to share his life with.

She was Lois Corbet, who was acting on a number of radio series. One of them was Glamour Manor, starring Kenny Baker, where Wilson was the announcer. They were married in 1950. Lois appeared occasionally on Jack’s radio and TV shows as Wilson’s wife. When they retired to Palm Springs, they were on the air together.

Radio Life magazine profiled Lois in its edition of March 9, 1947. She and Donzie would have met by this point; Wilson and his third wife Marusia filed for divorce in mid-1949. Wilson is not mentioned in the article.

Corbet, Camille and Camillias
Lois Corbet's Hobbies Keep Her as Busy as Her Radio Work Does
By Joan Buchanan

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9:00 a.m.

LOIS CORBET seems as far removed from "Jane J. Corbet" as a person can be. Though Lois portrays the pugilistic "Aunt Jane" on "Glamour Manor," in real life she's an attractive lady with a sense of humor all her own.
"I've never been an ingenue, though," she averred when we exclaimed over the difference between her and her characterizations. "On both the stage and radio I started out doing characters and gradually got younger." Lois names as her favorite parts those she does on mystery programs. " I like the neurotic parts with lots of screaming and frenzy. Yes, they're wearing," she agreed, "but it's such a good workout." She also likes her comedy work as "Aunt Jane" and as "Mrs. Potts" on the Frank Morgan show.
"When I was a very little girl I wanted most of all to play the leading role in 'Girl of the Golden West,' " Lois laughed. "After I grew up I wanted to do 'Anna Christie' and 'Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire'—and I still do."
Raised on the California countryside Lois first decided through poring over the Victor Book of the Opera that she was going to be an opera star. Her father, a short story writer, had had stage ambitions, and her grandfather had managed an opera house in the middle west. Father suppressed his own stage ambitions, according to Lois, because he thought he wasn't tall enough to be a hero. Lois, however, inherited the ambition and at a very early age was a veteran theatergoer, busy hatching secret plans of her own.
"Whenever we came to Los Angeles I was taken to the theater and at five and six I was soaking up movies," she recalled. Her vocal ambitions were restricted to singing in church, but Lois admits that she used to practice trills a la Galli-Curci alone in her room. "One day I tripped in the middle of a trill," she sighed, "and decided to be an actress."
Memorizes Easily
She joined a stock company doing character parts and dramatic leads, sometimes learning as many as one hundred sides each week. "I couldn't do it now," she admits. Lois and the ingenue lead, being the youngsters of the company, learned each new part with ease and spent their spare time going out on dates with the local boys. The older members of the company, who had to work to do the memory. task each week, still have Lois's sympathy. "They were actors in the day before it was fashionable to be an actor and they worked hard all their lives," she said, reflecting on the comparatively easy life actors live now. (Although when Lois arises at six in the morning for "Glamour Manor" and extends her working day to include the Frank Morgan and Borge –Goodman shows at night, it still doesn't sound like a terribly easy life!)
"We played all the tank towns and every city in the state. Now, whenever I take a trip, I recognize theaters where I've played in every little jerkwater town we pass."
In Los Angeles and Long Beach she appeared with the Majestic and Morosco players. Introduced as a native Iowan, she received a mighty ovation from Long Beach audiences, neglecting to mention that she had left Mason City at the age of three Gayne Whitman, J. Ronald Wilson, Victor Rodman and Hanley Stafford were some of her fellow artists in these companies. Lois and Hanley had the big reunion last year when Lois appeared on the Fanny Brice show as "Mummy."
"My hobby," replied Lois in answer to a question, "is a French poodle, Camille. It started once when I was low and discouraged. My sense of humor was at a very low ebb. I happened to read one of Alexander Woollcott's stories about French poodles and their wonderful sense of humor. I got one and—well, I haven't had a dull moment since!" she exclaimed.
Smart, Indeed
Lois has owned as many as five French poodles at one time and while she claims that none of them has lived up to the reputation the breed has for intelligence, that their sense of humor is as unpredictable as advertised. Which is why Lois's other hobby, the raising of camellias, takes place in the front yard while Camille is ensconsed in the back. It seems that Camille was so impressed one day by Lois's dainty clipping of flowers that she carefully bit off all the blossoms in the yard and deposited them neatly on the badminton court.
Camille, according to Lois, dislikes people and loves other dogs, who, however, don't like her. "Her idea of a good time is to catch me climbing up the hill. She runs about one hundred feet ahead, turns, and charges straight down for me. I scream and beg her to stop, but she butts right into me and down we both go".
Lois said we could do her a favour by helping correct the mistaken ideas people have about her favorite breed of dog. "They're not sissies or lap dogs," she exclaimed, pointing out that people still think of them as the tiny white variety that was popular at one time. The large, or standard, size poodle is used as a work dog and hunter in Russia and Germany, and though their fancy haircuts may make them look sissy, they're not, according to canine fancier Corbet.
"By the way," we asked, "how are the camellias doing this season?"
"Well," sighed Lois, "in spite of the fact they're kept away from Camille—not too good."

The two left Hollywood for Palm Springs, where they had a TV show together until one of those “we’re going in a different direction” conversations with management. Lois died in January 1983, less than nine months after her husband.

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