Benny and Allen, the friendly feud that wouldn’t quit until Allen’s retirement as a full-time radio host. (Photo: CBS.)
How would the two protagonists (who were actually good friends off the air) remember the origin of the Jack Benny-Fred Allen feud, by anyone’s measure the greatest dialogic running gag in network radio, enduring right up to the moment Fred Allen leaves network radio as a full-time host in 1949? (The greatest sound-effect running gag has to be Fibber McGee’s closet, of course.)
Goodman and Jane Ace in 1948. (Photo: CBS.)
It is often said that there are those who like to bite the hand that feeds them, and that there are the likes of Henry Morgan who like to bite off the entire arm. Goodman Ace is a man who prefers nibbling at the hand that feeds him. But that doesn’t mean the victim or one of its representatives will take it any more gently.
The Jordans launch a classic sonic running gag . . . (Photo: NBC)
What do you get when you combine four badly-worn Brunswick bowling pins; three pairs of shoes at minimum; two baseball bats; one wood tennis racket; one large pinewood box; one washboard; and, one wicker basket full of miscellaneous bric-a-brac, including but not limited to a fireplace poker, a metal platter, a steel box, and a few odd kitchen implements; not to mention a reputed snowshoe, two muffin tins, one metal baking tray, two coffee cans (with or without is anyone’s guess), one slender golf bag with three or four clubs, and a large footlocker at the top of the mount?
Eve Arden (center) rehearses with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon (right). (Photo: CBS.)
It’s not that anyone is going to complain, mind you. But maybe, just maybe, network radio’s most beloved high school English teacher might be even more of a hit—even allowing that television is now cutting radio ratings severely—with a slightly more advantageous scheduling.
Since luring Amos ‘n’ Andy and Jack Benny from NBC, CBS has built a formidable Sunday night lineup. Putting Eve Arden’s cheerfully sardonic but hopelessly romantic English teacher on Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. after Our Miss Brooks spent 1948 rounding into shape didn’t exactly get her suspended from school—she finished 1949-50 with an 11.0 Hooper, enough to secure her seventh place on Sunday night—but CBS could have provided her a powerful choice of lead-ins.
Posted in classic radio, comedy, Music/Variety, mystery/thriller
Tagged Amos 'n' Andy, CBS, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Jack Benny, Jeff Chandler, Our Miss Brooks, Red Skelton, Shirley Booth
Fred Allen (left) with the Alley demimonde (l to r): Minerva Pious, Alan Reed, Kenny Delmar. (Photo: NBC.)
Fred Allen has returned to full-time network radio in 1945-46, following a one-year sabbatical under his doctor’s orders; the satirist’s hypertension had hit height enough for alarm during his four-season run under the Texaco Star Theater banner for CBS.
That run has provided a series of refinements, not always to Allen’s liking at first, including the paring back to a half-hour show. But it also provided the beginnings of what would prove his best-remembered element: the transformation of his long-time, formerly groundbreaking newsreel satires into “Allen’s Alley,” which has now rounded into its most enduring shape:
Posted in classic radio, comedy, crime drama, mystery/thriller, old-time radio
Tagged Alan Reed, Allen's Alley, Fred Allen, Kenny Delmar, Minerva Pious, Parker Fennelly, Peter Donald, The Fred Allen Show