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.
When I first conducted research way back in 1989 and 1990 into the history of the Jack Benny radio program, for most people the idea of owning virtually every Jack Benny radio program was practically impossible. Besides actually tracking the episodes down, you had to purchase the individual shows on cassette tape, which usually only contained two episodes.
Nowadays, thanks to the internet, if you have enough time and look hard enough, you can own basically the entire history of the Jack Benny radio program simply by downloading many of the episodes as MP3 files from various websites. And you can fit an entire decades worth of shows on your portable music player, or smart phone, of choice.
But with over 350+ Jack Benny radio episodes available just from the 1940s alone, if you don't want to spend a large amount of time downloading each and every episode, which episodes do you choose-? Or if you DO download them all, which ones should you listen to first?
Well, hopefully, this website will help you to choose. We aim to be a free resource to highlight the historically significant episodes, the funniest episodes (and conversely the least funniest ones), the best guest stars, etc, of what I consider the show's finest years: the 1940s. We also provide individual episode reviews ("episode logs") that feature complete synopsis of the episodes, interesting background information, bits of trivia, the songs sung by Dennis Day (or Larry Stevens), notes on the sound quality of the circulating shows, plus other historical tidbits that shed some light on aspects of an episode that may be somewhat esoteric 70 years later. And if you DO already have all the episodes, hopefully we can help you pick which ones to fit into a busy schedule, and provide some fascinating background information while you listen.
In addition, the scope of the site is widening, and we have two brand-new sections, devoted to "Jack Benny in the 1930s" and "Jack Benny in the 1950s" These two new sections feature informative, detailed and funny episode logs written by Graeme Cree. The 1930s sections contains episode logs for the Jack Benny radio programs that were broadcast from Jack's debut in 1932 up to the 1938-1939 season, and as of February 2014 the 1950s section has logs for the first three seasons.
THE EPISODE LOGS
To the left in the navigation bar on all pages are links to each season of the Jack Benny show broadcast during the 1930s and the 1940's, and to the first three seasons of the 1950s. Click on any year to go directly to that season's guide. These season guides are called "episode logs".
Each 1940s seasons' guide begins with a general overview of that season, including any significant changes to the show, notable broadcasts of the season, and the season's year-end Hooper rating, among other information. The individual episode logs feature an episode number (for that season), the original broadcast date, an "informal" episode title, and a detailed description of the episode. Each episode includes some or all of the following details:
Orchestra Opening, Show Introduction, Don's Introduction, On Location, The Show, Guest Star, Dennis Day or Larry Steven's Song,
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.
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:
Jack Benny Day-by-Day: A Chronology 1940-1949
A look at the Jack Benny Cast, 1940-1949
A look at the Jack Benny Writers, 1940-1949
A look at the Jack Benny programs' sponsorship by the American Tobacco Company
A look at the Jack Benny programs' move from NBC to the CBS network in 1948
A look at radio's role in the "Sixth War Loan Drive" War Bonds campaign of November-December 1944
NEW: EPISODE LOGS FOR THE 1930s and THE 1950s
There are two very large new additions to the site. The first is Jack Benny in the 1930s. This new section is by Graeme Cree, and includes extremely detailed episode logs for the seasons broadcast during the 1930s, up to and including the 1938-1939 season. Graeme has done a remarkable job, and I'm sure you'll enjoy this new section. The second large addition is Jack Benny in the 1950s Also by Graeme Cree, this will ultimately include detailed episode logs for all of the Jack Benny Show programs 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). The first three of the 1950s logs, for the 1950-1951, 1951-1952 and the1952-1953 seasons are up now, so please check them out.
We also have a new "spotlight" feature, consisting of short articles and essays regarding different aspects of the Jack Benny 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)
RECENT UPDATES to the SITE
MARCH 1, 2014
As opposed to a reference book, forever locked in at the time of publication (until a possible second edition much later), this website is almost constantly being updated with information, particularly for the individual radio episodes. For those of you who return here frequently, I think that it would be a good idea to sum up any additions, corrections, changes, etc that have been made recently. This way one does not have to check every single episode for every season to see if anything new has been posted. For many individual episode summaries, this additional information can come either from posting my original typewritten research notes from the late 1980s, re-listening to the episode itself as broadcast, checking against the original scripts, and/or new research conducted.
These are the additions so far for February and March, 2014:
For quite a while I've been seriously considering a complete re-launching of this site (aka making a new web site) which would focus less specifically on the Benny radio program in the 1940s and more on the entirety of Jack Benny's radio career. This way, the season logs would be in chronological order (1930s, then 1940s, then 1950s) incorporating Graeme Cree's wonderful work on the Thirties and Fifties. We would keep all the articles, spotlights, and other features. Any feedback/comments/criticism of this proposed idea would be very welcome.
You can leave a comment on our guestbook page, or visit our message board to comment on any aspect of the Jack Benny radio program or the website.
You can also send any web site criticisms, comments, contributions, corrections, and, just to have a word that doesn't start with C, suggestions, to:
Long Island, NY
Home page last updated: March 1, 2014