Tag Archives: Groucho Marx

2 January: Jumpin’ Jack’s splash

CBS couldn't wait to put Jack Benny at the head of its Sunday night class. (Photo: CBS.)

CBS couldn’t wait to put Jack Benny at the head of its Sunday night class. (Photo: CBS.)

Now comes the time for Jack Benny and CBS to put Bill Paley’s money where the comedian’s mouth is. The question before the houses of Paley and NBC emperor David Sarnoff is whether the jump proves bonanza or bust.

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16 September: Nibbling the hand that can’t feed you

The Milton Berle Show: Salute to Radio (NBC, 1947)

Milton Berle, who never got vaudeville out of his blood. (Photo: NBC.)

Milton Berle, who never got vaudeville out of his blood or his brain. (Photo: NBC.)

It seems perversely appropriate that the nation’s Uncle Miltie-to-be delivers a good-natured satire of radio a year before he becomes Mr. Television. For all his radio years, Milton Berle will probably be the luckiest man alive to land his Texaco Star Theater television job and legend—because he’s actually known as old-time radio’s biggest prolonged failure.

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Justice flummoxed: Old-time radio listening, 22 May

Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel: The Ocean Cruise (NBC, 1933)

Groucho and Chico make a major radio journal cover in the middle of Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel's brief life. (Photo: Radio Guide.)

Groucho and Chico make a major radio journal cover in the middle of Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel‘s brief life. (Photo: Radio Guide.)

About fifteen years before he’ll become a smash hosting the absurdist quiz show You Bet Your Life, Groucho Marx, with brother Chico, is actually wrapping up season one and done of a charming little comedy that isn’t going to be renewed despite finishing fifth in the Monday night ratings. Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel may not be the blockbuster Amos ‘n’ Andy still is, but it’s a bona-fide hit, anyway, all things considered. Why cancel?

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The end of an era for Jack Benny: Old-time radio listening, 26 December

The Jack Benny Program: The Last Show for NBC (NBC, 1949)

An NBC fixture since 1932, Jack Benny says goodbye to his longtime radio home following the network’s hubris—and personal humiliation—negotiating a new deal with its most popular comedian . . . (Photo: NBC)

Jack Benny says farewell to the network that’s been his radio home since 1932, preparing to move in a week to CBS. What’s the big deal, considering how frequently shows changed networks—usually, when they changed sponsors—prior to tonight? Easy: NBC has been Benny’s radio home since 1932, and his loyalty inside the industry is the proverbial stuff of legend.

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Further Pearl aftermath: Old-time radio listening, 10 December

Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen: Death Valley Takes a Holiday (CBS, 1941)

Mr. Allen wasn’t averse to appearing in wartime hint ads from his Texaco Star Theater sponsor.

As proves so with just about all radio entertainers, Fred Allen yields to the impact of Pearl Harbour on his first show following the atrocity. The classic Texaco Star Theater introduction—the clanging bells and siren, punctuated by the cartoonish car horn, telegraphing a brief fanfare and announcer Jimmy Wallington’s hail (“It’s Texaco time with Fred Allen!”)—is muted for once.

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