THE JACK BENNY SHOW IN THE 1940'S

 

Welcome to "The Jack Benny Show in the 1940's":  a website devoted to a history of, and episodic logs of, the JACK BENNY radio program during the decade of the forties.

From October 1934 until May 1955, each fall every Sunday evening one program captivated millions of Americans, as people across the country tuned their radio dials to listen to the comedic exploits of JACK BENNY and his "gang".

While the program might not have topped the radio ratings chart at the end of each of those twenty one years, it has lived on as perhaps the supreme example of old time radio comedy.

This website was launched in October 2008 as a guide to the life and career of entertainer Jack Benny during the tumultuous, war-torn decade of the 1940s. Many consider the forties, and in particular the "War Years", the high point in the history of the Jack Benny radio program. From the introduction of Dennis Day on the first broadcast of the 1939-1940 season, to the final episode of the 1949-1950 season, the core cast remained unchanged: Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Eddie Anderson, and Don Wilson. Tenor singer Dennis Day and bandleader Phil Harris were only absent from the program due to military service. The 1940s also saw the writing of the show pass from the team of Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow to the quartet of John Tackaberry, Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg, and George Balzer. The Benny program would perform shows on location from military bases, hospitals and depots throughout the duration of World War II, and during many of the shows' summer vacations Jack would perform for soldiers overseas on USO tours.

The Jack Benny radio program was also graced over the years with arguably the most talented support team in radio history, including (to name a few) Mel Blanc, Frank Nelson, Bea Benaderet, Artie Auerbach, Andy Devine, Sam Hearn, Sara Berner, Mary Kelly, Verna Felton and Elvia Allman.

Since our launch, the site has now expanded to cover all of Jack's radio career, and includes very detailed season logs for episodes aired in the 1930s and 1950s.

Back in 1989, when I began researching the life of Jack Benny, the idea of actually owning the over seven hundred circulating recordings of the Jack Benny radio program was fairly absurd. In addition to the time spent just tracking the recordings down, they usually had to be purchased on audio cassettes containing just two episodes per tape. Now, if you have the time, you can download or stream virtually every circulating Jack Benny radio episode. But...

Who was Mad Man Muntz? Why did Mary compose a poem in 1939 about that year's two Thanksgivings? Which episode features Don Ameche in a brief, unbilled cameo? What lead Florence Hubbard to say she was "lonely, but loaded"?


This website is a listener's guide to the Jack Benny radio program. Not only shining a light on the significant episodes, the funniest (and least funny) episode, the best jokes, the best guest appearances, the most amusing flubs...but also delving into the historical and sociological tidbits and trivia from a time sixty and seventy years ago In America.



   
THE EPISODE LOGS
 
Each individual season of the Jack Benny radio program is covered in depth, including an overview of the entire season, and a guide to each episode broadcast during that season.  To the left side in the navigation bar on all pages are links to all of the seasons; click on any season to go directly to that season's guide. These season guides are called "episode logs".
 
Each episode entry includes details such as the original broadcast date, the opening orchestra number, the introduction by Don Wilson, the guest star, the song by the show's tenor, an "informal" episode title, and a detailed description of the episode, and notes featuring any other relevant information, trivia, or historical tidbits.

Because there are no episode titles on the actual Jack Benny show scripts themselves, for many episodes I have listed the titles most commonly used for the shows that circulate in the MP3 format, or as listed in previous Jack Benny episode logs throughout the years.  If the commonly used title for an episode is somewhat misleading or wrong, I have listed it, along with a new revised title that more accurately describes the episode. The individual episode numbering comes from the numbering as present on the original Jack Benny scripts for that season.  In addition to the general overview of the season at the top of the season pages, there are also season-end overviews at the bottom of the season pages, particularly in the 1930s section.  There are also several "SPOTLIGHT" sections which take a closer look at one particular aspect of a season.



OTHER FEATURES

In addition the the episode logs for the Jack Benny radio program, this site also features detailed looks into additional aspects of Jack Benny's career, both in the 1940s and during other eras as well.  Among these include lists, articles and essays.  Click on any of the links below to be taken directly to the page:




NEW:   EPISODE LOGS FOR THE 1930s and THE 1950s

The web site also features two large sections by writer Graeme Cree:

The
first is
Jack Benny in the 1930s.  This includes extremely detailed episode logs for the Jack Benny shows broadcast during the 1930s, up to and including the 1938-1939 season.  The logs also contain character profiles, lists of the best and worst of the season, and many other great bits.

The second is Jack Benny in the 1950s , and will ultimately include detailed episode logs for all of the episodes broadcast during the 1950s.  They're just as comprehensive and entertaining as his 1930s logs (and upon completion, means that episode information for virtually all existing Jack Benny radio programs will be available here).  Four of the 1950s logs, for the 1950-1951, 1951-1952, 1952-1953 seasons, and now the 1953-1954 season, are now online, so please check them out.  I'm still finalizing the "formatting" of the log, as you can obviously tell when you view it, but it will be completed soon. Graeme has also sent in the episode log for the final season of the radio program, 1954-1955, which hopefully will be posted soon.
Graeme has done a remarkable job, and I'm sure that you'll enjoy these new sections.




SPOTLIGHTS

We have a "spotlight" feature, consisting of short articles and essays regarding different aspects of the Jack Benny radio program. These can be found within the episode guide pages. There are more of them on the way, but as of now the current "SPOTLIGHTS" are:

THE TRIP TO YOSEMITE   (in the 1939-1940 Season)
MARY "BUBBLES' KELLY   (in the 1939-1940 Season)
JACK'S MAXWELL CAR   (in the 1942-1943 Season)
THE 'I CAN'T STAND JACK BENNY' CONTEST   (in the 1945-1946 Season)
MR. KITZEL, ARTIE AUERBACH   (in the 1945-1946 Season)

THE VAULT

Another new-ish feature is "THE VAULT"; these are unedited magazine articles about different aspects of the Jack Benny radio program published contemporaneously with the broadcasts . The VAULT articles are located in the season episode log sections, close to the date of their original publication. Among the items posted so far:

"ROCHESTER VAN JONES RIDES HIGH" by Kirsten Baskette, from the January, 1940 issue of Radio Mirror  {located in the 1939-1940 season log}

"THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ALLEN-BENNY, BENNY-ALLEN FEUD" by Kay Proctor, from the January 4, 1941 issue of Movie-Radio Guide {in the 1940-1941 season log}

"JACK BENNY TELLS ON WIFE MARY" by Jack Benny, and "MISS LIVINGSTONE REPLIES" by Mary Livingstone, from the December 20, 1941 issue of Movie-Radio Guide  {in the 1941-1942 season log}

"HOME IS WHERE MY HEART IS" by Mary Livingstone Benny, from the March 1945 issue of Radio Mirror  {in the 1944-1945 season log}

"I WALKED INTO $22, 500"  by Florence Hubbard, winner of the Truth or Dare programs' Walking Man contest, from the June 1948 issue of Radio Mirror   {in the 1947-1948 season log}

There are also smaller news articles from Variety, Movie-Radio Guide, and other radio-associated publications, appearing throughout the episode logs.



RECENT UPDATES to the SITE 

JULY 20, 2015

This website is constantly being updated with information, particularly for the individual radio episodes. These are the largest additions, corrections, changes, etc that have been made recently;
        
  •   Added Don Wilson's introductions to the first twelve episodes of the 1943-1944 season.
  •   The episode log for the 1953-1954 season is now online~!  The log is by Graeme Cree.
  •   A new GUEST STAR INDEX listing all the guest stars appearing on the program from 1939-1949
  •   Much of the 1940-1941 season episode log has been expanded and updated.
  •   All but three of Don Wilson's program introductions for the 1942-1943 season are posted.
  •   Added more detailed summaries for the first few episodes of the 1946-1947 season.
  •   Added detailed summaries for some episodes of the 1948-1949 season.
  •   Added details to many episodes of the 1949-1950 season.
  •   Revised and corrected entries in the "Songs Sung on the Jack Benny Show 1940-1949" section.
  •   Begun a section devoted to vinyl record albums featuring Jack Benny


I've been considering a re-launching of this site,which would focus more on the entirety of Jack Benny's radio career.  Similar to the way the site is now, however the season logs would be in chronological order (first the 1930s, then 1940s, then 1950s, etc) incorporating all Graeme Cree's wonderful work on the Thirties and Fifties broadcasts in the "correct" order. We would keep all of the articles, spotlights, and other features already present. Any feedback/comments/criticism of this proposed idea is very welcome.

The possibility of an e-book version of "Jack Benny in the 1940s" has also been raised.  The idea is kind of intriguing, and we would still be able to feature updated information, unlike a physical book.  Would one big e-book that covers several seasons be preferable? Or several smaller e-books that cover only a season or two at a time? If I can keep the prices low enough, would having the information in a mobile book be occasionally more convenient than checking this free site?  Again, comments and suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thank you to all that have taken the time to visit, and to write.  For the latest update as of May 18, 2015, please see the "UPDATES" page.




 CONTACT:

You can leave a comment on our guestbook page. You can also e-mail any web site criticisms, comments, contributions, corrections, and just to have a word that doesn't start with the letter C, suggestions, directly to:

 

William Cairns,
Long Island, NY

Home page last updated:  July 20, 2015


 


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