THE JACK BENNY SHOW IN THE 1940'S
THE JACK BENNY SHOW IN THE 1940'S
(original page introduction)
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 (and now book) 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
These detailed episode logs are the main feature of my upcoming book about Jack Benny in the 1940s.
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.
The web site also features two newer large sections by writer Graeme Cree.
The first, JACK BENNY IN THE 1930s, includes extremely detailed episode logs for all of the circulating 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 a ton of really great and fascinating information.
The second, JACK BENNY IN THE 1950s, features extremely detailed episode logs for all of the Benny radio programs broadcast during the 1950s, the shows' final decade. They're just as comprehensive and entertaining as his 1930s logs. I'm still finalizing the "formatting" of the log for the final season, 1954-1955, as you can obviously tell when you view it, because it's too long for Google...but it will be completed. Graeme has done a remarkable job, and I'm sure that you'll enjoy these new sections.
These spotlights and more will be featured in my upcoming book on Jack Benny in the 1940s. They include:
THE TRIP TO YOSEMITE
MARY "BUBBLES' KELLY
JACK'S MAXWELL CAR
THE 'I CAN'T STAND JACK BENNY' CONTEST
MR. KITZEL, ARTIE AUERBACH