Saturday, December 20, 2014

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 20 - Christmas Shopping with Jack Benny

Working on sending out one blog entry each day in December to showcase great Old Time Radio for the Christmas season.  Here is a link to all the entries.  Here is day 20 - Christmas Shopping with Jack Benny.  One of the most famous actors in radio history, Jack Benny had an amazing radio show from the 1932 to 1948 (on the NBC Network) and from 1949 to 1955 (on CBS Network).  On both networks, he was one of the ratings leaders.  And for a good reason...this show is fantastic!

If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#82). He has a number of great programs available throughout the month of December on his great show.  You can also get a large number of these programs at a variety or resources on the web. One place to find these shows is the 500 OTR Christmas Shows from the Internet Archive. This is a great resources for many of these wonderful radio shows!

62/365/1888 (August 12, 2013) - Old and New Wallets
Old and New Wallets, 2013

The Jack Benny Program was a national treasure and it is great that we have so many recordings.  Staring in the show was Jack Benny, a vaudeville performer who seemed to hit it big over the airways.  Mary Livingstone played second fiddle (no pun intended) to her real life husband.  She apparently had horrible stage fright, but hardly shows it as the straight person to many of Jack Benny's jokes.  Eddie Anderson played Rochester, Jack's valet and chauffeur.  He was one of the earliest African-Americans on mainstream radio and was one of the most loved characters on the show.  Don Wilson was the show announcer and did the commercials.  He was the constant butt of jokes, primarily about his weight.  Irish Tenor Dennis Day (who was on the 1948 show) also had a show of his own.  Besides being a 'dim bulb' in all the skits, he also sang a song on every episode.  Phil Harris (who also had a show of his own) was the bandleader and the joker on the show.  His real wife, Alice Faye would join him on the show as well.  The last big name was Mel Blanc (of Bugs Bunny fame).  Blanc (who ALSO had his own show) was one of the most famous character actors to play on the Jack Benny Show.  He is very commonly the floorwalkers for the Christmas episodes.

The shows are chock full of laughs, funny stories, corny jokes and great music.  And while there are many holiday episodes that are great to listen to, I pulled out two that I really liked.

Summary:  The episode took place during the Battle of the Bulge, the last winter of World War II.  It starts with Jack, Mary and Rochester trimming the tree - with some old defective lights that shocked Jack every time they were turned on.  (Well, you will hear).  There are some great electrician lessons here for the taking.  They also recount going back to the store for shopping.  The show ends with everyone coming over to their house, including actor Andy Devine.  Jack Benny ends the performance with a touching message to the troops, who were listening to the show via the Armed Forces Radio Services.  The AFRS transcription disks actually how many of these recordings were saved.

Summary: Jack and Mary head off to go shopping for the cast members.  Jack, who is notoriously cheap, was all set to buy a wallet for Don Wilson, until he realized that it was $40.  To be honest, according to the CPI calculator, a $40 wallet from 1948 would be $391 today...which might be a bit much for a wallet.  After Jack agrees to buy it - he keeps going back to the floorwalker, played by Mel Blanc.  As a bonus during this episode, you can hear Dennis Day sing Ave Maria.

There are many more Christmas episodes from the Jack Benny episodes on the web.  Enjoy them all.

Here are some links to programs relating to Jack Benny:
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:

No comments:

Post a Comment