Sunday 11 September 2022

Tex and Jinx and Jack

Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenburg were a married couple with a pleasant little chat show on New York radio after the war. She had been a model and an actress, Tex was a newspaper reporter. Soon, they were put on the NBC radio network and then given a TV show in April 1947. For some months, about all that was on during the daytime hours was Tex and Jinx.

The pair also had a newspaper column in the Herald Tribune where they talked with celebrities and people in the news. Jack Benny made a trip to New York in early 1950 to do a pair of radio shows, and one of his stops was at a restaurant where, for a gag, Jinx picked up the cheque.

Spending was pretty much the topic that the two explored with Jack in a column published February 5, 1950. The column was written as if Tex handled one part and Jinx did the other. The two seem obsessed with exclamation marks.

Hedda Hopper reported in May 1949 that Jack was testing for Father of the Bride with Jane Powell. Liz Taylor and Walter Pidgeon were originally supposed to have the roles, though Pidgeon claimed to Hedda he had never heard of the picture. By June Jack was pretty much out of the picture for reasons she never explained.

To me, the biggest revelation is trivial but interesting. Jack talks about his real butler. I gather his early risings to walk around Beverly Hills are one reason why he ate with his staff.

IN THE year 1932, two world-famous Americans discovered network radio—Franklin D. Roosevelt, candidate for the Presidency, and a young vaudeville headliner named Benny Kubelsky of Broadway and Waukegan, Ill. Both became quick masters of the fireside chat. Among statesmen, Roosevelt scored the highest Hooper rating; among comedians, the highest Hoopers still belong to Kubelsky—better known as Jack Benny.
Today, Jack Benny’s trademarks are as familiar as Uncle Sam’s chin whiskers or dollar sign—his stinginess, his violin, Rochester and Mary—are all part of American folklore.
“Pinching pennies on the radio costs me a lot of money every year—just in tips alone. If I heave a normal tip, people say ‘Lookit him! What a spender!’ So I have to leave as big a tip as I would if I’d made my money in Texas oil wells.
“And what’s worse, it’s the same for everybody who works for me—they all have to be twice as generous as normal people, just to prove Jack Benny isn’t really selfish. That gag costs my whole gang plenty!
“Only once did it ever work out right for me. We went to Earl Carroll’s night club one evening, and of course I checked my hat and coat. At the end of the evening, I went to pick it up and gave the hat check girl a crisp new dollar bill for a tip. She was very upset . . . handed it back to me. She asked me please to leave her at least one illusion!
“Of course, I have no real grudge against the gag—it’s the greatest gimmick for laughs in the business. There’s no other situation in comedy that can get more laughs than stinginess!”
Jack speaks of comedy the way technicians would talk about the hydrogen bomb—he is a master of punch lines and timing. Sure-footed as a mountain goat now, much of his career was sheer accident.
His father gave him two presents at the same time—a plumber’s monkey wrench and a violin. If he had followed the wrench to its logical destiny, he might have would up as a big industrialist and a sponsor; if he had stuck to the violin seriously, he might have wound up in Toscanini’s symphony orchestra, still on N. B. C.!
“The trouble was, I always wanted to play instead of practice,” Jack recalls. “And one more thing—I found out that when I extended my little pinky on the bow, people would laugh!”
That’s how comedians are born. But it was not the violin, but stinginess that sparked Jack’s longest and loudest laugh: Bandits were holding him up. One of them snarled: “Your money or your life!” No word from Jack. The bandit jammed his gun deeper into Jack’s ribs and barked once more: “Your money or your life—and hurry up!” Said Jack Benny, “Wait a minute, I’m thinking it over!”
Digging back into his memories, Jack unearthed another important crossroads in his career:
“I might have wound up as a fifth to the four Marx Brothers—I was playing the fiddle in the orchestra in Waukegan and the Marx Brothers came through our town. Their mother asked me if I would like to travel with them as their director—my mother wouldn’t let me leave. Oh, sure I’ve reminded them of it since, but they don’t remember it. I play golf with Groucho all the time, and he says the whole thing must have been his mother’s idea!”
Proximity has been a potent force in Benny’s career—his wife Mary used to work in the May Company store across the street from the Orpheum in Los Angeles, and Mary’s sister was the match-maker. Now she’s a pillar of his show.
Even the reserved Ronald Colmans have not been immune to Benny’s magic chain reaction—repeated guest performances by the Colmans on the Benny show revealed their unsuspected vein of pure humor—and now even though Benny has moved to C. B. S., Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Colman are on N. B. C., with a brand new comedy show of their own, called “Halls of Ivy.” Mr. Colman plays the part of a college president, but he would be the first to admit that like his fellow alumni, Phil Harris and Dennis Day, his most valuable degree should read “BB”—by Benny. TEX.
Thousands of Americans and all Englishmen think that Rochester is really Jack Benny’s butler. Just for the record, Jack explains:
“Our real butler’s name is Donald, a white-haired, sweet, very dignified Englishman. I generally have breakfast with Donald, and the other help, very early, in the kitchen. Why? Because it’s warmer in the kitchen.
“And it’s fun—they think I can do no wrong. My wife, Mary, and her sister in Chicago are my worst critics.”
Movie critics have been rough on Jack’s screen ventures; we asked him if he had ever thought of risking his radio reputation by tackling a play on Broadway, where critics can make or break you. “I’d love to try a play—but I’d hate to move everything from California for what might be a one-week run!”
There had been rumors that Jack would be the star of the movie version of “Father of the Bride”—patting his balding head, he spikes that rumor: “I was considered for the part, but they gave it to somebody else . . . said I was too young for the role.”
For still photographs, every star has a “favorite side” for profile shots; I asked Jack which was his for our Close-up picture: “Doesn’t matter any more, Jinx—I’m bald on both sides now.” JINX


  1. Okay, who else saw this headline and for at least one second thought it was about the Pixie and Dixie cartoon "Cousin Tex" and wondered who Jack was? And then remembered it's Jinks, not Jinx.

    1. Have to admit I briefly considered Bob Clampett's "Tex &Judy" pilot.

    2. If it's Sunday, it must be Benny. ;D