Tag Archives: The Jack Benny Program

Culture shock: Old-time radio listening, 3 April

The Jack Benny Program: Journey to the Surface of the Earth (CBS, 1955)

The look on Joseph Kearns's face in this publicity photo could have been the look of Ed the vault guard coming up to the surface world after several decades . . . (Photo: NBC)

The look on Joseph Kearns’s face in this publicity photo could have been the sum of Ed the vault guard’s brief experience coming up to the surface world after several decades . . . (Photo: NBC)

If you were to launch a discussion as to what might be the single-most heard episode in Jack Benny’s long and distinguished radio career, you might think about tossing this one into the evidence box. In the decades prior to the digital revolution, which passed several hundred Benny (and other) shows onto digital files as the original transcriptions passed to the public domain, this—in its entirety, or in generous excerpts—will be one of the most often-cited and often heard.

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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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Wistful vittles: Old-time radio listening, 23 October


Dining with disaster? (Photo: S.C. Johnson & Son/NBC)

There are those who believe the only thing better than one dinner date with the First Couple of 79 Wistful Vista is two such dinner dates—provided that you keep Fibber McGee as far from the kitchen as you keep a Dodger fan from a Giant fan, that is . . .

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Joanie, we barely knew ye: Old-time radio listening, 22 October

Joanie’s Tea Room: Will Andy Russell Make a Movie? (CBS, 1945)

Joan Davis, at the height of her old-time radio career. (Photo: CBS)

In most ways, Joan Davis will be done a disservice, from her coming out as a bona-fide radio comedy lead to her premature death fourteen years later.

Bad enough that Joanie’s Tea Room introduces her, invariably, as “America’s queen of comedy,” a title that sounds just a little too smugly pretentious attached to a woman who hasn’t exactly won it, by acclaim or otherwise. Worse is that the introduction and the show itself are accompanied by a somewhat smarmy publicity campaign not of the ill-fated star’s own making.

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Brushing bigotry away: Old-time radio listening, 27 September

The Halls of Ivy: The Leslie Hoff Painting (NBC, 27 September 1950)

James Edwards, as becalmed a radio voice against bigotry as he is on film . . .

Even quiet bigotry requires shattering, and few do so better than this remarkable, literate series, which does so tonight quietly but firmly and without lapsing into preachiness.

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