Tag Archives: The Jack Benny Program

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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26 December: Jumpin’ Jack’s flash

 

Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone reherse, March 1948. The year would prove to be a turning point in Benny's long radio career. (Photo: NBC.)

Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone reherse, March 1948. The year would prove to be a turning point in Benny’s long radio career. (Photo: NBC.)

Saying farewell to the network that’s been his radio home since 1932 isn’t exactly easy for Jack Benny, no matter how gracious he is about it publicly. But considering how frequently shows changed networks previously, and often as not at their sponsors’ behest, Benny’s pending jump is a very big deal, indeed.

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18 September: A crisis and a blitz

In 1938, the Sudeten crisis comes to a boil; in 1940, the London Blitz continues apace, with a particularly understated but gripping report from CBS legend Eric Sevareid.

WORLD WAR II: A CRISIS AND A BLITZ

Special Report: Refuting Propaganda (Czech Radio, 1938)

Czechoslovakia’s English-speaking radio station denies Czech pressure against German-born citizens being restricted or under arrest, as Nazi and Hungarian propaganda broadcasts have charged. The broadcast also discusses Il Duce, Benito Mussolini of Italy, calling for a plebiscite to resolve the Sudetenland crisis—a plebiscite the embattled Czech government fears will not resolve the Sudeten crisis or questions about nationality relations within the country itself.

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20 September: The unlikely plainsman

The Six Shooter: Jenny (Series Premiere; NBC, 1953)

James Stewart, who made a singular Britt Ponset. (Photo: NBC.)

James Stewart, who made a singular Britt Ponset. (Photo: NBC.)

James Stewart, who’s done enough guest shots to know, should have been a natural for network radio. His laconic vocal style and ability to immerse himself in even the lightest characterisation should have added radio star to his resume. The problem was, when he finally finds a regular vehicle for his gifts, it comes a decade too late.

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13 September: Character counts

Dragnet: The Big Waiter (NBC, 1951)

Jack Webb (lowest right) preparing for a Dragnet transcription. Co-announcer Hal Gibney, upper right. (Photo: NBC.)

Jack Webb (lowest right) preparing for a Dragnet transcription. Co-announcer Hal Gibney, upper right. (Photo: NBC.)

No less than The Commonweal, the lay Catholic intellectual journal of opinion, is impressed that Dragnet leaves a number of heretofore intractable radio crime drama stereotypes behind:

[N]o stereotypical hoodlums with congenital inability to voice the tongue-point dental fricative; no dem’s and dose’s. If intelligence can be measured as the number of shades visible between black and white, Dragnet is an intelligent program. Character is not subordinated to the arbitrary requirements of an action-packed script.

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