Tag Archives: Fred Allen

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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29 January: Canned feud

(l to r) Portland Hoffa, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Mary Livingstone have a little wrestle and relaxation. (Photo: NBC.)

(l to r) Portland Hoffa (Mrs. Fred Allen), Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Mary Livingstone have a little wrestle and relaxation. (Photo: NBC.)

Classic network radio has no better aural running gag than Fibber McGee’s closet, though you could argue that Jack Benny’s subterranean vault alarm might prove a close enough second. For a better verbal running gag, it’s hard to deny the Benny-Fred Allen mock feud. It’s even harder to believe that Fred Allen may actually feared it couldn’t be done in the first place.

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30 December: The rivals and their “comebacks”

Benny and Allen enjoy a splendid mutual comeback beginning in 1945. (Photo: NBC.)

Friendly rivals Benny and Allen enjoy a splendid mutual comeback beginning in 1945. (Photo: NBC.)

It might be difficult for a 21st Century fan to believe, if clinging strictly to the general image of the man, but Jack Benny thinks he’s in radio trouble by the 1945-46 season: his Hooper rating has dipped a cumulative 35 percent since 1941, culminating in a tenth-place finish for 1944-45, his lowest rating in a decade.

The good news is that, for all that steady slippage, Benny still has never finished a season shy of a 20 rating. Regardless, the comedian entered the season bent on keeping that bottom line at minimum and getting back near the top of the beanhill at maximum.

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10 December: A bump for Fred Allen

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Pearl Harbour will affect Fred Allen as it will all radio entertainers, but in Allen’s case it will provide an inadvertent ratings bump.

The satirist and his Texaco Star Theater hour have struggled against NBC’s Eddie Cantor and Mr. District Attorney on Wednesday nights. But then the Ford Motor Company drops the curtain permanently on its Sunday night CBS mainstay, The Sunday Evening Hour, which featured performances by the Detroit Symphony. “It was wartime,” Jim Harburg would review, in his splendid volume compiling the history of network radio ratings, “and the car maker had nothing to sell.”

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30 May: Celebrating a perfect 110

Mr. Allen, still at the height of his career. (Photo: NBC.)

Mr. Allen, still at the height of his career. (Photo: NBC.)

We’ll let the man’s own recollection, shortly before his death, speak for itself here:

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