Category Archives: comedy

27 June: Two finales, two transitions, for Jack Benny

Benny knew how to handle unexpected transitions. (Photo: NBC.)

Benny knew how to handle unexpected transitions. (Photo: NBC.)

A pair of season enders eleven years apart tonight, shows Jack Benny in two different kinds of transition.

The 1936-37 season has been a transitional one for Benny as it was. The good news is that he was joined by Phil Harris at the season’s beginning and Eddie Anderson as the irrepressible Rochester near season’s end. The bad news is that he lost his main writer, Harry Conn, before the season began. Conn—who later sues Benny but settles out of court—came to believe he was the number one reason for Benny’s radio success and made contract demands accordingly. The net result was Conn’s head on a plate.

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8 May: V-E Day in Wistful Vista

Harlow Wilcox (left), Marian Jordan (center), and Jim Jordan (right). (Photo: NBC.)

Harlow Wilcox (left), Marian Jordan (center), and Jim Jordan (right). (Photo: NBC.)

It was only too appropriate that the timing should hold Fibber McGee & Molly due for their regular Tuesday night radio comedy on the same day the end of World War II in Europe—“the first act of the greatest drama the world has ever seen,” as announcer Harlow Wilcox will describe it—is announced officially.

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15 March: The hard timing of Stoopnagle & Budd

A Stoopnagle & Budd advertisement.

An advertisement for Stoopnagle & Budd’s final series as a team, The Minute Men. (Photo: NBC.)

Radio ratings began to be kept in earnest during the 1932-33 season. Among the top fourteen shows on Thursday nights that season was Stoopnagle & Budd, its 9.8 Crossley rating nowhere close to Jack Pearl and his Baron von Munchausen exercise’s evening-leading 39.4 but only two full points behind Death Valley Days and seven fractional points ahead of semi-serial dialogic comedy Easy Aces.

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12 March: Crime didn’t pay for Carson

Carson's comedy couldn't get past the crime fighters. (Photo: CBS.)

Carson’s comedy couldn’t get past the crime fighters. (Photo: CBS.)

It’s hard to know if and how he complained, of course. But up to and including the day he died, Jack Carson—otherwise a distinguished character actor in film—was a perversely inverted testament to the adage that crime doesn’t pay.

When he graduated from hosting the West Coast-only series Signal Carnival to his national CBS series in 1943, Carson at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday nights ran smack up against Mr. District Attorney . . . and got clobbered. On a night when the average Hooper rating was 13.4, Mr. District Attorney delivered a whopping 21.4. Carson’s 8.9 wasn’t even within two county lines of it.

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11 March: Rochester’s enduring stand

Eddie Anderson, the irrepressible Rochester. (Photo: NBC.)

Eddie Anderson, the irrepressible Rochester. (Photo: NBC.)

Eddie Anderson was the son of a minstrel performer and one of the extremely few black high-wire artists. His father objected to his traveling up and down the west coast as a teenage entertainer. But he eventually became the first black performer hired for a permanent radio cast spot and almost as much of a radio institution as the man who hired him in the first place.

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